Incest is not a hushed topic in this novel but rather a tantalizing, twisted celebration of haunting love. After her mom’s suicide, sixteen-year-old Lane returns to Roanoke, a rural but oil-rich farm in Kansas, to finally meet and live with her grandparents and her cousin, Allegra, in the privileged style that seven other Roanoke girls have enjoyed. All of the girls except Allegra and Lane have either run away or suffered tragic accidental deaths; when Lane suspects the sordid truth behind their stories, she runs away as fast as she can. Years and many hard times later, her grandfather calls to say that Allegra has disappeared and begs Lane to return to Roanoke. Because of her ongoing deep affection for her cousin, she returns to help search and ease her guilt at abandoning Allegra that summer so long ago. Engel weaves between the past and present to reveal the heart of the dark family truth. Engel’s first adult novel is just that – for adults only. – Guest Reviewer Bunny Hand
“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 ran…fast 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.
About the Author
AMY ENGEL is the author of the young adult series The Book of Ivy. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. This is her first novel for adults.
“A gripping tale about the power and corrosiveness within families weighed down by the past…storytelling at its finest.” –The Associated Press
“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
"A page-turning thriller that will allow you to escape into another world…filled with family secrets and a legacy of death and disappearance for the infamous “Roanoke Girls” — a privileged Kansas matriarchy with more than its fair share of tragic drama.” –Bustle
"A crime must-read to devour…The Roanoke Girls has nothing to do with Virginia but everything to do with missing girls, as the females in the Roanoke family, who live in a tiny town in rural Kansas not worth naming, are rich, beautiful, and generally short-lived…The farmhouse, which is 'equal parts horrifying and mesmerizing,' is a perfect setting for a gothic mystery full of small-town secrets, lies, and guilt.” –Literary Hub
“[This] engrossing novel by Engel, a former criminal defense attorney, offers everything a reader could hope for — multidimensional characters, a page-turning plot and surprises that continue to unfurl throughout the story…Highly recommended!” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The Roanoke Girls, the new suspense novel by Amy Engel, is one of those captivating stories which make you ask for more from this talented author…an exciting read from a talented new voice in adult suspense.” –Mystery Tribune
"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...from that point on, The Roanoke Girls becomes a thrilling mystery and a satisfyingly gothic portrait of Middle America...a dark fable of trauma and acceptance about damaged people accepting their crooked parts and using them to move forward." –Bookpage
“Engel hits a homerun with this “gothic suspense novel” that tells the story of the Roanoke family, a prominent and very private Kansas family…a rollercoaster ride through a dark family history and the one devastating family secret.” – Pulse Magazine
“In her first foray into adult fiction, [Engel] creates a memorable cast of characters and a twisting, tangled plot that attracts readers from the first page…[an] atmospheric and unsettling tale of the secrets and bonds of family, set against the backdrop of small-town Kansas.” — Library Journal
“A provocative thriller.” — Telegraph UK
"A debt to Daphne du Maurier is evident throughout this remarkably assured adult debut...you are also reminded of the theatrical domestic sagas of Tennessee Williams." –Sunday Times
"An emotionally captivating story." – Booklist
"I was immediately drawn into The Roanoke Girls, a haunting and riveting look at one family's tangled legacy. You won't stop reading until you've unraveled the darkest of Roanoke's shocking secrets." – Laura McHugh, award-winning author of The Weight of Blood
“This is a poised and haunting novel, whose enchanting prose belies its dark and intense subject matter. An evocative modern take on Southern Gothic, with a compelling twist which will remain with you long after the book’s last sentence.” – L.S. Hilton, New York Times bestselling author of Maestra
“An emotionally compelling page turner, The Roanoke Girls takes you inside the dark world of a twisted family and one woman's fight to break free from the chains of her own history. This is family intrigue at its very best!” – Wendy Walker, author of All Is Not Forgotten