Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


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

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.


Initial thoughts: Definitely recommend for those interested in disturbing, twisted content. The characters were so damaged and fascinating that I had to know how it would end. Only 4★ because while it was good, it didn’t blow my mind and I was ready to move on to my next read.

I saw some buzz for this book on other blogs and after recently reading Forbidden I was on a disturbing book streak. And wow, this book was twisted! Lane Roanoke comes back to live at her grandparents house after her mother commits suicide. Her cousin Allegra has been living at the Roanoke house since she was born and her mother abandoned her. Everyone at Roanoke seems a bit…off. Many of the Roanoke girls have either died or run away and the ones left are quite..damaged to say the least. Allegra is eccentric and a bit manic and definitely clued me into something that was going on. 

You actually figure out the Roanoke secret pretty early on, so the book went in a bit of a different direction that I was expecting. It wasn’t so much what the secret is, but how it is developed throughout the book and how it affects our main character, Lane. This part was very well done- the secrets, the tension, how Lane is personally affected by her extremely dysfunctional family. Due to the reveal of the secret early on in the story, this book reads more like a slow-burning mystery rather than a thriller. There isn’t one big “reveal” but rather a build-up of twisted, horrible things that happen as all of the pieces come together to make a full picture of this family.

I also really enjoyed how the story was told through alternating points of view between the past and present. In the present, Lane alludes to events that occurred in the past that caused her to leave Roanoke and in the past we see those events start to come together to create the damaged Lane we see today. We also have the overarching story of Allegra’s disappearance that ties together all of the horrible secrets in the Roanoke family. 

My one complaint is that for how dark and twisted this book was, the ending was a little too tidy. I wanted to be left a little more distraught at the conclusion. Normally I wouldn’t be saying this, but once you read this book you will understand! It was not quite realistic that the ending was as hopeful as it was. I didn’t think it was very realistic that the ending left me feeling hopeful.

Anyway, this was a good book. Read some of the reviews to make sure you would be okay with the content- it is very dark. I couldn’t put it down until I finished, it is definitely a page-turner!





4 thoughts on “Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel”

  1. I gave this one four stars, too. While I couldn’t stop turning the pages, there were definitely parts of it that didn’t quite satisfy me. Some repetitive aspects in the narration that I could have done without. I also wanted somebody to be punished! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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