The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Rating: 5 stars

Category: Psychological thriller

Synopsis: When Lane’s mother commits suicide, she is invited to live with her estranged grandparents and cousin Allegra at Roanoke – their mysterious residence in a suffocating small town. On the surface, the family seems perfect. They are wealthy, rich, beautiful and charismatic.

Behind this, Lane discovers a harrowing family history of violent deaths, disappearances and dark secrets. After one summer, she becomes the only Roanoke girl to escape. However, eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing, Roanoke’s haunting secrets are clawing her back once more…


First Impressions

The Roanoke Girls is the most intensely addictive novel I have read for a long time. I was absolutely riveted by Lane’s story; the world of Roanoke swallowed me up from the first page.

Writing Style

This novel is a bold, headstrong confrontation of difficult themes from abuse to sexual politics. The Roanoke Girls is unremittingly dark and shocking, with gothic undertones that can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

I also found the novel has a strangely intimate feel as if we too become a part of Roanoke’s secrets. It is a disturbing comment on human nature that I embraced this intimacy, wanting to go deeper into a story that at times made me physically uncomfortable.


The setting of an isolated small town is highly atmospheric, making readers feel even more tense and claustrophobic.


Engel’s characters are tangible in their complexity, portrayed sensitively but without too much sentimentality. In almost all cases they are deeply damaged, so entering their minds can be a disquieting experience. However, being drawn into the world of these characters – experiencing the heady, violent, almost primal whirlwind of their lives – is part of the novel’s twisted allure.

Favourite quote:

‘…she was walking a tightrope between light and dark, joy and sorrow, and all I could do was stand beneath with arms outstretched and hope to make a catch.’

Read if: you want to be drawn into a dark and intensely addictive thriller.

Cover image courtesy of Goodreads.

If you enjoyed The Roanoke Girls, I would highly recommend The Dry by Jane Harper.

Would you like to share your opinion on The Roanoke Girls? Please feel free to comment below – I would love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel”

    1. Ooh, I did see that the author had a new book out but I haven’t got to it yet! How about you? Thank you for reminding me, I’ll add it to my Goodreads! X x x

      Liked by 1 person

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