The Roanoke Girls
by Amy Engel


"With more twists than a bag of pretzels, this compelling family saga may make you question what you think you know about your own relatives."
- Cosmopolitan

"Roanoke girls never last long around here. 

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More About The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

"With more twists than a bag of pretzels, this compelling family saga may make you question what you think you know about your own relatives."
- Cosmopolitan

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

After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

  • ISBN-13: 9781101906668
  • ISBN-10: 1101906669
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
  • Publish Date: March 2017
  • Page Count: 288
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Thrillers - Suspense
Books > Fiction > Psychological
Books > Fiction > Contemporary Women

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2017-01-09
  • Reviewer: Staff

YA author Engel (The Book of Ivy) makes her adult debut with a gripping if creepy thriller set on the Kansas prairie. Lane Roanoke fervently hoped she had seen the last of Roanoke, the family homestead, when she fled Kansas for Los Angeles as a desperate 16-year-old, but now a decade later the disappearance of her cousin Allegra, the only kin to whom she feels a connection, compels her to return against her better judgment. Indeed, with local law enforcement stymied, it seems that the only hope of solving the mystery lies with Lane and whatever clues she can dredge up from memories of the traumatic summer the two cousins shared as teens. Skipping lightly between past and present, including Lanes efforts to finally come to terms with the two most influential men in her lifedangerously seductive family patriarch Yates and roguish Cooper Sullivan, her never-forgotten first lovethis gothic page-turner speeds inexorably toward the kinds of devastating revelations readers wont soon forget. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Mar.)

BookPage Reviews

American gothic

The Roanoke Girls lulled me into a false sense of security. The first chapters ably introduce Roanoke, a sprawling farmhouse in the middle of rural Kansas, and family black sheep Lane Roanoke, who returns to her family’s ancestral home years after a traumatic summer sent her running as fast as she could in the opposite direction. The disappearance of her cousin Allegra brings Lane back to her privileged grandparents and the summer fling she never quite got over, forcing her to deal with the dark things in her past while searching for her lost cousin. 

Based on those first few, perfectly capable pages, a reader may believe they know how The Roanoke Girls will end. But Engel drops a wicked twist in the first 35 pages—in the middle of a paragraph on the middle of the page—and lets it sit like a coiled snake. 

It’s a twist that most authors would save for the last chapter, and from that point on, The Roanoke Girls becomes a thrilling mystery and a satisfyingly gothic portrait of Middle America. But Engel is also interested in the things that break people and how they try to put themselves back together again. She deepens the typical tropes of the small-town mystery genre, using every sheltered country boy and fading matriarch to illustrate how people can silently, slowly shatter. 

Lane’s high school sweetheart is as damaged as she is, and the pair cleaves to each other with a jagged-edged desperation before tearing themselves instinctively away. It’s a painfully human, rough-hewn romance, and Engel balances it beautifully against Lane’s investigation into the fate of her cousin. Both threads braid together as the novel circles the mystery at its heart and The Roanoke Girls transforms into a dark fable of trauma and acceptance about damaged people accepting their crooked parts and using them to move forward.


This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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