Friday, 14 April 2017

Book Review: Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke girls are rich and beautiful but hide a generations-long secret. This dark, dirty secret leads them to either run from the family home, or die.

Fifteen year old Lane Roanoke has stayed away from the family house but after her mother commits suicide, Lane is welcomed into the small-town Kansas mansion where her Grandparents and cousin Allegra live. During the long, hot summer, Lane and Allegra become good friends, meet boys and generally own the town but when the summer ends Lane runs and doesn't look back. Until eleven years later when Allegra goes missing and Lane is drawn back to find out what happened to her. But will Lane be able to resist the pull of the Roanoke secret once again?

I am so morally torn after reading this book. It touches on a very intense subject that made me feel pretty gross. I can't give it away without spoiling the plot, although the secret is known pretty early on. This is unusual for a small-town mystery novel, usually it would be saved until the end. But it silently festers and reaches all corners of the town. In saying that, the book has that draw, that pull that makes  you turn page after page to find out what happens in the end. There is a mystery element to the book which always gets me, Allegra leaves a trail of clues which need to be found by Lane. There is sex, crude language and characters that are beyond screwed up.

When Lane returns she reunites with her old flame who has about as many skeletons in his closet as she does. The two have a push/pull relationship where each seems to think that their issues will destroy the other but they manage to accept their brokenness and I think that is one of the better parts of the novel.

The narrative is told in then/now flashbacks and interspersed with brief voices from the dead or departed previous Roanoke girls. I liked this style as it kept the story moving and revealed the vulnerability and innocence of the girls who came before.

Overall this is not a comfortable read but if you can get past that then you will be rewarded with an intriguing tale with plenty of twists.

Available from March 14, 2017 in hardback and paperback.

Thanks to Hachette for my review copy of this book.

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