ARC Review: The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

Release Date: 7th March 2017
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages:  288
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.

This is one dark and twisty thriller.


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…


I first heard about this book on Twitter, and it was getting a lot of buzz around it quite early on. It sounded so mysterious and the synopsis gives so little away that I was completely desperate to read it. The tag line of ‘most taboo thriller of 2017’ also definitely piqued my interest. However will all the hype I was a bit concerned it wouldn’t live up to expectation. I can safely say after about two chapters I was completely hooked and all productivity went out the window as I always dying to know what was coming next.

The story is told mostly from the point of view of Lane, and alternates between the summer she spent in Roanoke, and the current day. I sometimes found this a little jarring, not quite being sure whether we were in present day, that fatal summer or sometimes a flash back to Lane’s life before she moved to Roanoke. There are also chapters from the other Roanoke girls, telling the story of what happened to them. These were really fascinating, even if I had to flip back to the family tree in order to work out which girl was which. Despite the plot really kept me hooked, giving you little hints and ideas about what is going, and really drops some bombshells early on, grabbing you hook line and sinker.

Lane returns to Roanoke because of her cousin Allegra – all the Roanoke girls disappear, and Lane comes home to find out why her cousin has disappeared. I developed loads of ideas about what had happened to her. I did guess correctly, but it took me a while to figure that out, and my knowing that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the ending at all. It’s fantastically written, and the dark, foreboding atmosphere continues to build and build,  making for a really tense story.

One of the most stand out things about The Roanoke Girls are the complex characters. From Lane and Allegra to Tommy and Cooper, everyone has their own dark motivations, and each character is very well thought out and introduced. They’re complex three dimensional characters and really bring the story to life.

The Roanoke Girl is dark, with some seriously messed up characters. I know the taboo aspect will put some people off, but this is a powerfully written and haunting story that makes for one hell of a read.

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