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?
Don't be deceived by the pretty floral cover for The Roanoke Girls as what lays between the pages of this book is certainly not all sweetness and light. The story revolves around a dysfunctional family, with grandad Yates as the patriach and the different generations of women that form the family tree, but this is not your typical everyday family as each of the beautiful Roanoke Girls have either run away or died. But what is their story?
The Roanoke Girls is told through a dual timeframe, Then, when teenager Lane arrives in Kansas following the death of her mother Camilla, and Now, when Lane returns home following news of Allegra's disappearance. Interweaved between this complicated story are one-off chapters featuring each of the Roanoke girls who are no longer around which gives us a brief insight into who they were and the part they play in this disturbing story.
Lane had never had any contact with her maternal family before her arrival at Roanoke as her mother ran away before she was born and never talked about them, and she'd had no contact with the family since she left herself until now. Whereas her cousin Allegra has lived at Roanoke her whole life and knew no different life to the one that she was a part of. Both Lane and her cousin Allegra were extremely flawed characters who didn't appear to think they were worthy of love or even love themselves but once you read what they have experienced in their lives, it's no wonder that they acted the way that they did.
It's hard to say anything more without giving away any spoilers but it's fair to say that this is one that will pull at your emotions and leave its mark on you long after you finish reading. Personally I wouldn't say that The Roanoke Girls was a thriller, well certainly not one with a twisty conclusion, as the dark family secret is uncovered quite early on but instead we're left with the mystery surrounding what happened to Allegra which is not unveiled until the latter stages of the book.
Despite the dark, disturbing theme of the storyline which made for uncomfortable reading at times, it is strangely addictive and compelling that I found myself wanting to read just one more chapter to discover whether or not Lane finally manages to escape the curse of the Roanoke girls. To say I loved this book feels wrong considering its nature but it's certainly one that will stay with me for quite some time.
Amy Engel is a new author to me, she's previously published a couple of YA novels, but she's certainly proved that she's skilled at writing a hard-hitting, thought-provoking read. I'll definitely watch out with interest for more books from her in the future.
I'd like to thank Jenni at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of The Roanoke Girls to review and if you'd like to read for yourself then you're in luck as she's also offered me a copy to give away to a follower of the blog (sorry this one's UK only).
a Rafflecopter giveaway