The Roanoke Girls* tells the tale of then and now, with family history woven in. Cousins Lane and Allegra, through death and dysfunction, come to live with their grandparents on a sprawling estate in rural Kansas. The novel early chapters contain this brilliant gem.
“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die”.
It’s so simple, yet it hints at the dark and twisted family saga to come. Lane, now an adult, receives a mysterious call from her grandfather, begging her to come home. Allegra has disappeared. Reluctantly, despite the fact she swore she never would, Lane returns home to a nearly unchanged town. After her abrupt departure ten years earlier, Lane finds that she falls right back into the same relationships that were always so toxic (and wonderful). As the days pass and there is still no sign of Allegra, Lane loses hope and begins retracing Allegra’s final days. What happened to her? And why?
The Roanoke Girls is, quite simply, a page turner. I flew through it in a day. It’s absorbing, disturbing, and filled with dread. I was trying to describe this novel to a friend, and I fell woefully short, but the plot truly does defy easy description. Or if you’re capable of describing it, people might wonder what there is to like. The secrets we keep are often what bind us together, and more often, tears us apart, especially within a family. Sordid family secrets and a twisted family tree keep Engel’s novel riveting, for better or worse.
For those of you who secretly enjoyed Flowers in the Attic, The Roanoke Girls is your modern update.
*I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.