Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday #Review - The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Crown/Random House
Source: Library
Genre: Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense

Vowing to discover the fate of her missing cousin, a woman returns to her family’s Kansas estate where she spent one haunting summer as a teen, and where she discovered the dark heart of the Roanoke clan that left her no choice but to run.
Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she goes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. Allegra, abandoned by her own mother at birth and raised by her grandparents, introduces Lane to small-town life and the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But there is darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.
Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. “Come home,” he beckons. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago. Her return might mean a second chance with Cooper, the boyfriend whom she loved and destroyed that fateful summer. But it also means facing the terrible secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
As it weaves between the summer of Lane’s first arrival and the summer of 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.    Story Locale: Osage Flats, KS

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

Amy Engel's The Roanoke Girls is a creepy, dark, disturbing psychological suspense story told through the eyes of a traumatized, troubled young woman named Lane Roanoke. If you enjoy twisted subject manner, this book is definitely for you. When Lane was 15 years old, her mother Camilla committed suicide. Lane's journey takes her from NYC to Osage Flats, Kansas. It’s the first time she’s been on her own and the first time she's met her grandparents, Yates & Lillian, who her mother never spoke about.

This is the summer that changes everything for Lane. She meets her cousin Allegra Roanoke who's own mother ran and left her behind to be raised by Yates and Lillian. It is the first summer of unbridled freedom for Lane who is the stereotypical Roanoke in that they all share the same distinguishing features: long dark hair, piercing blue eyes, and bodies that both men and women stare at and fantasize about. But, there is something much, much sinister that binds the Roanoke girls. Most have taken their secrets to the grave with them. Some, like Camilla and Eleanor ran away and never looked back. 

Eleven years after Lane escaped Roanoke after discovering its deepest, darkest secrets, she finds herself being lured back thanks to Allegra going missing. Allegra and Lane were thick as thieves when they were younger. Allegra going missing gives her courage to return to the place she thought she'd never see again. Lane is the first Roanoke to ever leave, and return again. Lane is drawn right back into the darkness. Right back into those she ran away from and left behind like Tommy Kenning and her former lover Cooper. There is something in Roanoke that they can't get out of their blood. 

“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.”

What was interesting to me, was the way that Amy Engel hit on every single Roanoke from Lillian, right up to Lane. She also weaves a then and now storyline to ensure that readers understand why Lane ran away in the first place. You can guess the mystery of this novel if you truly pay attention to the hints that the author leaves behind. The way that Engel handles the inner workings of this family was not only twisted, but fascinating as well. I am not going to spoil the big reveal. I will say that the subject matter wasn't something I would necessarily run out and choose to read. 

It is subject matter that hides behind doors, & walls, and is kept secret from the outside world for fear that discovery could bring disaster. This story will make you question your own soul and your own beliefs in what makes a person a good person or a bad person. You will be forced to look at people around you in a whole new light. You will ask yourself what does a real monster look like? Is it my neighbor? Is it the mailman? How about the cashier at your local grocery store? How many monsters are hiding right under the skin of some of the people you think could never be caught dead doing what some of these people have done.

I'm not a fan of trigger warnings. I believe that if you are interested in reading this book, and you know someone who has read the book, then it is up to you to choose to ask about dark issues that this story brings up. I will say that I will not recommend this to readers under the age of 18 for fear that it will leave an everlasting impression on their minds.


The first time I saw Roanoke was in a dream. I knew little of it beyond its name and the fact it was in Kansas, a place I had never been. My mother only ever mentioned it when she’d had too much wine, her breath turned sweet and her words slow and syrupy like molasses. So my subconscious filled in the rest. In my dream it stood tall and stately, tucked among a forest of spring-green trees. Its red-brick facade was broken up by black shutters, white trim, delicate wrought-iron balconies. A little girl’s fantasy of a princess castle.

When I woke, I started to tell my mother about it. Talking through a mouthful of stale Cheerios drowned in just-this-side-of-sour milk. I got only as far as the name, Roanoke, before she stopped me. “It was nothing like that,” she said, voice flat. She was sitting on the wide windowsill, knees drawn up into her cotton nightgown, smoke from her cigarette gathered around her like a shroud. Her ragged toenails dug into the wooden window frame.

“You didn’t even let me tell you,” I whined.

“Did you wake up screaming?”

A dribble of milk ran down my chin. “Huh?”

She turned and glanced at me then, her skin pale, eyes red-rimmed.The bones of her face looked sharp enough to cut. “Was it a nightmare?”

I shook my head, confused and a little scared. “No.”She looked back out the window. “Then it was nothing like that.”

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