Hey chickens, today I have the pleasure to take part in THE ROANOKE GIRLS blog tour and share a special review and Q & Q with the author, Amy Engel. If you’re a fan of darker reads and mysteries, just head to amazon right away and download/order a copy. The book is out today, yay! So, happy publication day to Amy and massive thanks for taking the time to do a little Q & A for my blog. Also big thanks to lovely Emily and Jenni and rest of the amazing people at Hodder for the review copy and the chance to be part of the fun.
Cheerio and see you tomorrow for another awesome blog tour!
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
Published on 9.3.2017
Genres: psychological thriller
Buy on amazon.co.uk or Buy on amazon.com
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?
OMG this is one twisted book! I remember receiving the proof, one of the most gorgeous proofs I’ve ever seen. As I stroked the gorgeous cover and dusty pink roses on it, I thought this is going to be one fantastic girlie read. Oh boy, was I wrong! This book is anything but girlie and I should be very careful when using the word enjoyable. Because as much of a page turner this is it’s so dark and twisted I couldn’t say I enjoyed it. I mean I did…but I didn’t at the same time. A paradox I know, but that’s what this book will do to you. It will screw up your logic as you read about the sad and tragic destinies of the beautiful Roanoke girls.
The book opens with Lane leaving for Kansas to live with her grandparents and cousin she’s never met before on the mysterious Roanoke ranch. Her mum committed a suicide and one would say she’s experienced some tragedy, something that made her depressing and sad, avoiding people and even her daughter. The thing is, Lane’s mum has been like that always…at least that’s how Lane remembers her. She could snap in a minute, once even hurting her bad. Lane doesn’t know much about her mum’s family and she romanticizes this Roanoke place she dreams of visiting. But Roanoke is far from the dreamy setting she imagined as a child. And she’s going to find out why very soon after settling with her grandparents.
The Roanoke girls, their long black hair and beautiful, mesmerizing looks will always be remembered and their pictures have their special places on the wall. However, no one ever says anything about why they’ve all disappeared, ran away from the only place they ever knew and committed suicides. It’s like the curse of Roanoke, to be beautiful and rich but die at a very young age.
Her grandparents are rich, yet there’s something off with them and pretty soon you’re going to find out the reason for the girl’s disappearances. I found this approach of revealing the most shocking truth so early on in a book somewhat strange. It was like, where’s the mystery now? What will keep me reading the next +200 pages if I already know why they are all dead? I really didn’t need to worry as the author does an amazing work keeping you intrigued, throwing in short chapters about each of the Roanoke girls. And as you peel a layer after layer, learning more about their tragic endings you get on such a roller coaster of emotions, from sadness to anger towards the beast who caused their suffering. Except it wasn’t really that they suffered…not in the way we’re used to defining it. And that was for me the most disturbing part, knowing you’re acting strangely, being treated in such a wrong way…and yet not doing anything about it.
Lena’s cousin Allegra was the hardest to understand. She’d go from being so high on life to cutting, hating, being angry. One very moody girl which I didn’t like at all, but in a strange way she got under my skin. I really wanted to hate her but I would catch myself admiring her zest for life. The book is told mostly from Lane’s point of view and the author did an amazing job when it comes to intertwining the past with the present. We follow Lane as she sets her foot to Roanoke place first time and after 11 years when her grandfather calls her to come back ‘home’ after Allegra is gone missing. They might have had a strange relationship, but then again Allegra is one peculiar girl. Still, Lane owes her this much. As painful as it is to go back to that cursed place, she’s back to Kansas and starts investigating Allegra’s disappearance.
This is one very complex book to review, honestly. Because it’s like paradox after a paradox. As I mentioned, the big mystery is revealed pretty early on and one’s expected to quickly lose interest in the book after that. Maybe some will, who knows? If you want my advice, just persevere and you will definitely be rewarded. Because you’ll still want to know the reasons why is someone behaving the way he is and what/who made them such a beast.
I try hard not to reveal anything so I won’t spoil the book but it gets really hard, especially now when I want to talk about the characters. None of them I found likable, not even Lane, yet in a very strange way they’ve all got under my skin. There’s one particular character you will love to hate. I hated him passionately, I hated how our eyes deceive us sometimes. How people put on these masks and pretend they are normal when they’re everything but normal. Sick and twisted are the words I’m gonna use and let you see for yourselves what I’m talking about when you read the book.
Overall, this was certainly one very strange book to read. At least that’s how it felt to me. I am shocked to say I liked it because a part of me got so disturbed I wanted to yell and give the girls a good shake. But that’s the thing with The Roanoke girls, you can’t be indifferent about it, it will leave a strong impression on you, of that I am sure. The reason why I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5 when it’s obvious I found it so gripping is that sometimes I was so confused with Lane as a character, she was so unlikable at times. I certainly didn’t approve of everyone keeping quiet about the monster…and that kind of bothered me. Yet I kept on reading, page after page, eager to come to the end when everything would make sense.
If you’re looking for a clever ‘mystery’ (use the term mystery very loosely here) this is definitely the book for you. This is also Ms Engel’s first adult book and I think she nailed it!
Q & A with Amy Engel
- If you could sum up your novel, ‘The Roanoke Girls’ in just five words, what would they be?
I am always the worst at this sort of thing! If I had to use just five words, I’d say: dark, disturbing, controversial, and a page turner.
- What’s the inspiration behind the story?
There are actually a lot of inspirations behind this particular book. I’d always wanted to write a book set in small town rural Kansas, which is a part of the world I know very well. And I wanted to explore some modern gothic literature tropes. The book was also strongly influenced by my time as a criminal defense attorney. In my work I never dealt with people who were monsters, most were very human and very flawed and I wanted to bring that uncomfortable reality to the page. The plight of female victims was also a big influence on the book. The awful truth is that if female victims don’t act the way we think they should, then we often blame them for their own suffering. I find that a fascinating and damning commentary on society and wanted to explore it in the novel.
- The Roanoke Girls is an amazing yet rather dark read due to the delicate subject. How hard or challenging was it for you to authentically portray all the characters?
It wasn’t all that difficult, to be honest. I don’t know if it was my years as a criminal defense attorney that helped or just an ability to tap into these particular characters, but I found it surprisingly easy to slip inside all their skins as I was writing. Sometime the writing broke my heart, but all of the characters felt like real people to me, which made the writing of them relatively effortless.
- Every reader feels fiction differently and will have its own opinion on the message/s behind your book, but what’s the message of ‘The Roanoke Girls’ you wished to deliver to your readers?
Well, I think there are several different messages, including those I touched on up above about the ways in which society views female victims and the uncomfortable reality that even people who do horrific things often have very human, and sometimes very likable, parts of their personalities. But I think if I had to pick one message for the book it would be the idea that it is possible for people to move on after their lives have been shattered in the worst of ways. Hope is always possible. Healing is always possible. Life can go on.
- How important do you think it is for an author to also be a voracious reader? Which book/s could you recommend to us & our blog’s readers?
I think it’s vital. I don’t think it’s possible to be an author if you’re not also a voracious reader. I usually read one or two books a week and it’s the activity I’m most likely to be engaged in when I’m not writing. Recent books I’ve read and loved are: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead; The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; and Final Girls by Riley Sager. And if you haven’t read any Tana French, do yourself a favor and pick up something of hers. She’s absolutely brilliant!