Posts 2017 · Reviews

Review – ‘The Roanoke Girls’ by Amy Engel

9781473648371 (1)


Beautiful. Rich. Mysterious. 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?



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

A pretty covered book that has a dark tale to tell within its pages. It entices you in, whispering its secrets to you. You want to look away but you just can’t help yourself, you have to hear about the Roanoke girls.
Lane is a Roanoke, she returns home after years away because her cousin Allegra has vanished. Roanoke is not a place Lane has happy memories of, she never saw herself returning and it’s only out of fear for Allegra that she does.

The story occurs during a sticky, heat fuelled Kansas summer. The heat is oppressive, suffocating which perfectly illustrates the Roanoke secret – an oppressive, suffocating secret that the girls cannot escape. The secret is revealed fairly early on in the book, but I will let you discover it for yourselves. This is a family tree with some severely rotten roots.

“Love that spread through her like poison, coiled like inky tentacles that slowly squeezed out all the light.”

This read is dark and compelling. And quite uncomfortable at time. It’s a read that many people won’t enjoy because of the subject matter. The writing is superb – Amy Engel manages to draw you and make you feel the suffocating, claustrophobic darkness that envelopes the Roanoke house.

The story is told by Lane, it did take me most of the book to warm up to her but I got there! She is a troubled young woman, bent on self destruction but Allegra’s disappearance saves her. The dual timeline really works in this novel, it illustrates what happens the summer Lane first arrived at Roanoke at fifteen years old and also follows her during the present day. Intermingled with her story is the story of the other Roanoke girls, these are pretty short interludes at only a page or so but they really add a chilling element to the book.

I really enjoyed this book but it feels wrong that I enjoyed it! Other readers will understand what I mean! This is not a happy tale, it will haunt you and it’s darkness will seep into your mind, staying with you for some time.




Amy Engel is the author of YA novels ‘The Book of Ivy’ and ‘The Revolution of Ivy’. She lives in Missouri with her family. This is her first novel for adults.

If you like The Roanoke Girls then try:

‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue
‘The Enchanted’ by Rene Denfeld
‘Mother, Mother’ by Koren Zailckas
‘Our Endless Numbered Days’ by Claire Fuller

‘The Roanoke Girls’ is out now in hardback. With thanks to Hodder for my copy.


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