The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Ok… So I have literally – about 10 seconds ago – finished this book and honestly? I have no idea what I think about. I’ve got no clue as to how many stars I should give it and I have absolutely no idea if I recommend it or not. But there was something… Something about this book that made me want to read til the very end so that has to be worth something, right?After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and 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 Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…

Eleven years later, Lane is in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

I’m going to review this book as best as I can, but I’m already finding it very hard to put my feelings about this book into words. So let me start with the basics…

The Roanoke Girls flits between ‘then’ – when Lane is sixteen years old – and ‘now’ – when Lane returns to help with the search of her missing cousin. At first, I didn’t really like the use of the different time periods because it became really irritating and I thought that the story would work better if Engel has just stuck to writing in the ‘then’ time frame. As the book progressed, I could see why Engel used this form of writing: it helped a lot with shrouding the whole plot in mystery, but the previous thought was still stuck in the back of my head – I kept wondering what the book would be like if it was just written all the way through from the perspective of sixteen year old Lane.



“You can’t outrun what’s inside of you. You can only acknowledge it, work around it, try and turn it into something better. I may not know exactly where I’m headed, but this time I’m choosing my own destiny.” 
― Amy Engel, The Roanoke Girls



I also didn’t really like any of the characters apart from Cooper – but even then, his ‘bad boy’ antics just annoyed the hell out of me, so I got bored of him very quickly. Lane just irritated me; she was so self centered, she was a bully, arrogant and stupid. Allegra was just… way too wild for my liking and Tommy was two-dimensional. However, I do understand that with Allegra living in the home life that she did, she would want to be as wild, adventurous and care-free as much as she could. She needed to get all of her feelings out of her system. Even when we skipped forward to the ‘now’ part, I just wanted to shout at Lane and tell her how stupid she was.

Ok… so far, we have a weird form of writing (but it makes sense) and stupid characters.

The one thing that made me carry on reading this book until the very end was the plot. We know from quite early on what the secret is that the Roanoke family bears, but Engel writes the story in a way that still cloaks the known secret in a dark veil. Even though we know the secret, we don’t know why, who, and what is going to happen. (Which is where the ‘now’ and ‘then’ way of writing comes in handy). This book was an absolute page-turner and even though it’s just over 200 pages, it took quite a long time to read it. Engel was exploring such a dark topic, that I had to make sure I was concentrating on every single word just in case I missed any sight detail.

If you are looking for a comfortable, quick read, then this is not the book you’re looking for. I finished this book and I felt very very weird. I started this review not knowing how I felt about it because it’s a topic that isn’t spoken about in reality or fiction. I still don’t know what star rating to give it so for the time being, I’m going to set it at 3 stars. Then, I’m going to give the book some more thought and see whether I should change the rating or not.

The Roanoke Girls is a dark, gripping story with flat, stupid characters. But its plot and the mystery and how Engel creates a discussion about the subject of the book is what makes this novel good. I guess I do recommend it… Just know that you’re in for a dark, depressing read.

Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Released 9th March

3 thoughts on “The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

  1. I just heard about this book early in the week. It’s hard when you finish a book and are unsure about your feelings. I’m not sure if this is something I’ll read but thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. I think it’s one of those books where other people’s opinions aren’t really that helpful; it’s one of those books where you have to read it for yourself because you may not feel disturbed by it or you might…
      I don’t know… Let me know if you decide to read it though! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it


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