The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


The Roanoke Girls


Amy Engel


The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

My Review:

‘Come a little closer…’ this book seems to whisper, drawing you in with the lure of mystery and suspense, vowing to immerse and astound you. The blurb, the cover, everything … wow ! The blurb is one of the most interesting I have read for a long time. The intrigue it piques maintains a vice-like grip on you until you are forced into reading by sheer curiosity. And not to mention the beautiful cover. But as you will see with this book, beyond the beauty lies the darkness. Inside this mesmerizing package, lurks something very disturbing. And it will both bewitch and horrify you.

Then: When fifteen-year-old Lane Roanoke’s mother commits suicide, she moves to Kansas to live with her unbeknownst grandparents, Yates and Lillian Roanoke and her cousin Allegra. As she settles into her new life, Lane discovers something about her family that beforehand had remained a secret. A secret that, over one long summer, eventually forces her to flee her new home and, more specifically, her family.

“In the end, we either run or we die.”

Now: With Allegra missing, Yates begging her to come back to Roanoke, Lane returns home after ten years absence and soon realises that there is more to Allegra’s disappearance than she originally thought. Soon Lane may have to flee the secret again, but will she? Can she?

Told between chapters that flick alternatively from the past to the present, The Roanoke Girls addresses issues such as abuse, drugs and a bottomless darkness that surrounds an incredibly dysfunctional family.

“The first time I saw Roanoke was in a dream.”

When I first started reading, I was struck by how similar the first sentence of The Roanoke Girls was to Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. And recently I read a piece by author Amy Engel on the WHSmith Blog about the books that inspired The Roanoke Girls and that the first sentence was an homage to Rebecca and it’s infamous first sentence “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” I couldn’t believe it when I read it!

Amy Engel’s flowing prose and empathetic narrative guide us through the disturbing content of Roanoke Girls with enough care and delicacy that is essential to keep us reading. It takes quite a lot from a book to disturb me but this did! Love it or hate it, The Roanoke Girls might be a bit of an acquired taste but wow, does it have you awash with emotion. Very powerful book. Brilliant! Really enjoyed it!!

If you have a penchant for dark, disturbing books, I’d thoroughly recommend this! It’s a must read.

Dark. Haunting. Disturbing.

If you would like to read about what books inspired The Roanoke Girls here is the link to the WHSmith Blog.

If you would like to buy The Roanoke Girls, here is the link.

Huge thank you to Emily Kitchin for my review copy!


14 thoughts on “The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

  1. Great review. Thanks for keeping it spoiler free. I just got this book from Netgalley and will be looking forward to reading it & comparing notes 🤓


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