Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Adult Contemporary/Mystery
Pages: 288
Pacing: Normal
Publisher: Hodder Paperback
Published: August 10th 2017


STRONG Trigger Warning: Incest, suicide and neglect. This whole book focuses on these topics and I would strongly suggest to proceed with caution if any of these topics are triggers for you. 


A gripping, provocative thriller about the twisted secrets families keep, perfect for fans of The Girls.

Beautiful. Rich. Mysterious. Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl. But you won’t when you know the truth.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family’s rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But what she doesn’t know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die. For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice.. -Synopsis from Goodreads.

hearts 4

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

It’s hard to even know where to start on a book like The Roanoke Girls.It’s the kind of book that makes you feel uncomfortable and queasy while you are reading and will likely haunt you long after you have finished. This book is not for the faint of heart.

It feels weird to say that I enjoyed the book, I didn’t. I loved in the book but I can’t say I enjoyed it, which might make little sense. What I mean is that, I appreciated that the author was willing to make unlikable and challenging characters for her readers. Some of the story seems far-fetched but what makes it uncomfortable to read is at the heart of this story it’s intensely realistic.

I completely understand people having to put this book down because it’s “too much.” The thing I saw a lot of though, when I read reviews, was that they didn’t like the protagonist (Lane) of the book – she was too unlikeable. I had to sit on that one for a couple of days and while she is fairly unlikable, she is also strong, intelligent and capable. As a survivor of abuse myself, I understood where Lane’s motives were coming from – I could feel her pain. I related to the way she pushed people away to protect herself. I did not relate to what she was doing but I related to WHY she was doing it and that is a very important distinction. This was a young woman who had suffered horrible events in her life since she was a child. I read some answers from the author on this character and I thought she put it best, she said that Lane was not a bad person. She just didn’t have the tools to deal with this life. I think that is why I loved this character so much. Nope, she’s not likeable. Yep, she’s horribly flawed. However, she is real and she is constantly trying to connect to people and her loyalty to her cousin is fierce and doesn’t falter. I think Lane will always hold a special place in my heart.

I’ve also seen this compared to Flowers in the Attic a lot. I can see the comparison but it might be a little misleading. There is incest, lots of incest and lots of confusion for the characters around the subject. That is basically where the comparison stops though. If you are looking for a similar book to the V.C. Andrews classic, this is not the one likely.

Before I wrap this up, I have to mention all the side characters. They were all well-developed and 100% flawed as well. I don’t want to say too much about the storyline but even when you think someone has it together, they don’t lol Not at all. It’s kind of refreshing to see and I rooted for these people but I knew it couldn’t turn out all roses at the end. I loved Alegra (great name!)and when you got glimpses of some of what she must’ve been going through it’s some of the best parts of the book. I would read a novel on this character in a heart. I also loved Cooper, someone I wouldn’t want to be involved with in a million years but another great, fucked-up person to scream at one minute and root for the next.

I feel weird about recommending something like this, I would say if you read my review and are prepared for a very disturbed book then go for it!


10 thoughts on “Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

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