The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

Spoiler-free review!

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

I don’t have a lot to say about The Roanoke Girls, because I think this is one of those stories where it’s best if you go in knowing as little in advance as possible. When I picked this title up, all I knew was that it was an adult mystery fic, and that it involved a woman going back home to investigate her missing cousin. That said, I will take a moment to offer some content warnings for sexual abuse, suicide, and parental neglect, so proceed with caution if those topics bother you.

This was such an incredibly disturbing, yet captivating story. It reminded me of my first time picking up a V.C. Andrews book as a kid, and being so enraptured, yet totally disgusted from start to finish. You learn very quickly that there is some incest and child grooming going on in the family, and things just snowball onward from there. The chapters alternate timelines between Lane’s teen and adult years, which is done flawlessly and makes the story pass incredibly quickly.

I enjoyed Lane tremendously as a narrator; despite making poor decisions, her behavior is constantly being addressed as the result of her childhood traumas. She acknowledges the need to change and better herself, which made her feel very three-dimensional to me. There is so much insight given to the politics of an incestuous family and the bizarre ways that loved ones can harm one another, and while it was a tough read at times, I couldn’t put it down. My only regret is letting it sit on my shelf so long before I dove into it.

Thank you to Blogging For Books for sending me a review copy! All opinions here are entirely my own.


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Just a children's librarian/horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

7 thoughts on “The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

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