A review: The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls is the second ever book I was granted as an eARC from NetGalley. I must say I didn’t expect to get a copy of this book, as very much a newcomer to the website. However, I was very much surprised to receive it, especially as I was genuinely intrigued by the plot of this book and I am definitely going to pick up a physical copy upon release – which I would’ve done without the fortune of an ARC.

So luck aside, I can easily say how much this book took me by surprise! A dark psychological thriller isn’t usually my cup of tea, but this had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through.

“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”

trgAfter her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

This review is spoiler free!

The Roanoke Girls predominately follows Lane – the main character, that didn’t grate on me for the majority of the book. This in itself is a welcome relief. She’s honest and damaged and she has her walls like many of us do. But she’s cool and funny and very real.
I actually found Lane quite the relatable character in some aspects; her struggles and the basis of her relationships with certain characters are easy to understand and empathise with, or so I found it.

The book is told from a non-linear narrative, each turn of time told with a title of NOW and THEN, so you know, very clearly, which narrative you are reading. This form of non-linear narrative works very well in the context of the plot. By interweaving the two stories, the author builds suspense and encourages us, the reader, to put the pieces of the puzzle together ourselves. Obviously, a lot of books us this technique, but it still felt new and non-repetitive here.

A surprise to me, and I’m sure many of those who have read this book, is that what can be considered the major plot twist of the book, happens incredibly early, definitely earlier than you’d expect. However, the early reveal works in the books’ favour, as it builds the story we’re following, it ups the ante so to speak. It obviously means we’re not in the dark when it comes to a lot of the dialogue and it works in the context of the structure of the narrative. It makes certain lines that you could believe to be almost throwaway, just that bit more chilling, giving them that extra bit of depth because you’re in the loop.

Honestly, this book was just one big surprise, and as I said, gripped me from the very beginning. The superb writing keeping my interest and slowly and poetically building the foundations for such an explosive and emotional story.
Have you read The Roanoke Girls, or is it on your radar for its upcoming release on the 9th March? Let me know your thoughts!



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