This book was read purely on #FOMO (fear of missing out), the Roanoke girls have a dark secret and I was desperate to know what it was!
The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.
Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.
She is a Roanoke girl.
Is she strong enough to escape a second time?
Well, that’s a secret I’d like to unknow – it’s dark, twisted and disturbing to say the least and I’m not surprised Lane ran! I’ve seen a few reviews state that the subject matter in this book may be a trigger/hard to read for some people (I can’t disclose the subject without revealing the secret) and while that may be true for some, at no point is the writing too graphic, too detailed or too hard to read.
I was surprised by how early on in the book the secret was revealed, on the one hand, I had hoped the whole plot would build up to this grand reveal that would leave me shocked. On the other hand, I like that the author surprised me; the secret was revealed within the first quarter of the book as it’s not the main plot twist. As for the way it was revealed, I was left slightly underwhelmed. However, what this early reveal did do, was add a dark tension to the remainder of the read – everyone in the village knew or had an idea of what was happening but no one was saying anything and that left me anticipating an ‘explosion’, when the tension finally combusted and the secret was out in the open. However, that explosion never came… The rage I felt, was never echoed in the book; everything in this book is subtle, in the sense that the pace is slower than expected and instead of the shocking twist, you’re just left feeling unsettled.
What this book delivers is a glimpse at the darker side of humanity, the despicable actions human beings are capable of. Lane narrates from a “then” and “now” perspective, interspersed are the perspectives of the Roanoke girls that came before. I didn’t like any of the characters, due to their experiences, it’s understandable why they acted the way they did, and while I didn’t like any of them, it was evident they were products of their toxic environment.
This book is wrought with themes of abuse, neglect and secrets all hidden behind a façade of wealth. There’s no denying the darkness within these pages, Engel’s ability to tell a story, that wasn’t at all what I expected, but one that I had to keep turning the pages of. This was a thought-provoking read, we are told a story and almost left to make of it what we will.
I’m so conflicted, part of me applauds this book, with its simple style, this disturbing story never quite leaves you, I have always believed it’s a sign of a good book when weeks after reading it, you find you’re still thinking about it. But a part of me feels the book was holding back, perhaps intentionally, the characters were not as well-developed as I’d hoped and that’s perhaps why, despite their upbringing, I found them all to be unlikeable.
I think this book is going to divide the masses, like marmite, you’ll either love it or it won’t be for you at all. However, there will be a few, like me, lost in limbo, liking and disliking it at the same time.
*My thanks to the author (Amy Engel) and publisher (Hodder & Stoughton) for granting me access to a digital copy of this book via Netgalley*