The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel



“As a little girl I’d tried to please, tried to live by the simple refrain my mother repeated like a desperate prayer in my ear: be good be good. But I’d known even then it wouldn’t work, went against something dark inside me. A mean streak that came to the surface more often as I grew.”


I am not at liberty to quote this darkly disturbing novel as much as I’d like. It will not be published until February 17, 2017 by Crown Publishing. I thought I’d be reading a sweet story about a family of girls who step into some sort of mess or another. This is a black mass running through all of their veins, but who is to blame? Who indeed?

After her mother’s suicide Lane Roanoke returns to her family’s estate in Kentucky. There she will fall under the spell of her vivacious cousin Allegra and wonder at the quietly cold beautiful demeanor of her grandmother. Her grandfather welcomes her with warmth and with his handsome looks and magnetic allure she soon begins to want to ‘be good be good’, for what girl doesn’t want to be loved and adored. Fast- forward  a decade later and Allegra is missing, Lane is long gone but her grandfather lures her back using the love and guilt she has for the cousin she spent so brief a time with.

Against her better judgement, she knows she must return and find out if Allegra abandoned the family as she herself chose to or if something far more sinister is at play. All the secrets she’s left in the past are waiting to sink their teeth into her. Will the love of a boy she left behind be able to help her through the mysteries, or did she keep too much of her true self from him? This novel explores love, in it’s many twisted forms.

If the Roanoke girls are roses, they are thorny wilting ones. These rich, seemingly spoiled girls of privilege shouldn’t carry such tragedy with them. Each girl has her own  dark forest of nightmares to walk through with one common thread tangling them up in each-other, and while the thread may be made of gold- it can hang them. I was disturbed, who wouldn’t be? But still I wanted to know, what is going to happen? Then, how could this happen? Mark my words, it’s going to leave a foul aftertaste. So as a novel, it sticks and it’s a hell of a disturbing story. Not all monsters are otherworldly, and what makes some people run straight for them?

Publication Date March 7, 2017  Crown Publishing




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