For every three or four books I read, I usually write a Recent Reads post (check out my latest, here) but sometimes a book just captivates me so much that it deserves a whole post to itself.
‘Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.’
The girls of the Roanoke family – beautiful, rich, mysterious – seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them that’s never spoken.
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?
The Roanoke Girls sat on my bookshelf for ages. I’m embarrassed to say that I kept prioritising others books because I was pretty sure I’d enjoy The Roanoke Girls so I knew it was a good back up when I didn’t have anything else to read. As it turns out, as soon as I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down. I started it one morning before university and I’d finished it by that evening. It was just that good.
The story itself is so captivating but, without a doubt the best part of the book is Amy Engel’s writing. It’s raw, powerful and intelligent and definitely a contender for one of the best books I’ve read this year, if not for the last few years. The best way I can describe the book is that it’s dark. It covers a lot of difficult topics that I’m not going to go into much here because *spoilers* but the novel opens with a death and the macabre nature just keeps coming. In a similar way to The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde which I reviewed a few months ago, the novel sizzled with a dusky Summer feel which I loved and helped me picture the Roanoke estate so much better. The small town vibe mixed with the creepy undertones which ran through the book really created an unsettling atmosphere that worked so well with the plot progression.
The Roanoke Girls is so heart-wrenchingly sombre and yet it dazzles with a youthful feel, especially in the present day chapters where Lane meets with her old friends. The book questions the meaning of family, of hometown ties and sisterhood and will leave you with so many questions that you’ll want to go right back to the start and read again for any clues.
If you only read one book this year, The Roanoke Girls should be it.