After her mother’s suicide, Lane is sent to live with her grandparents and cousin out in Kansas. A dark secret pushes her from that home, leading her to seek out a life in LA. Years later, her grandfather calls her, telling her that her cousin Allegra has gone missing. Lane heads back to the small Kansas town, bent on discovering what has happened to her beloved cousin.
Why this book?: I was looking for a thriller, and this book was up on NetGalley for such a long time, I finally had to check it out.
I would like to thank the people at Crown Publishing for allowing me to have an ARC of this book via NetGalley.
An obvious and disgusting ‘secret’
This book would have been hugely more compelling if Engel had waited to reveal what the ‘dark secret’ was, instead plopping it out so casually during dinner within the first 25% of the book that I couldn’t help but be disgusted throughout the rest of this book.
The ‘secret’ was also made fairly obvious, so I wasn’t much surprised when Lane just decided to drop out the answer like it was nothing. Leaving the reveal until the end, however, wouldn’t have fared much better. Knowing the answer, but the characters acting oblivious to it for an entire book would have been even worse.
I’ll say it here, because the ‘secret’ is actually a huge trigger, but people acting that pedophilia and incest were okay just disgusted me. I couldn’t focus on the poor excuse of a plot, mainly because nothing came together at all. It just felt like Engel was relying on the shock value that the secret would give instead of making her book or characters interesting at all.
Nothing else worked
None of the characters had any character, which was pretty disappointing. Lane was supposedly a vicious character, always snapping at one person or another and leaving a trail of broken hearts, but really came off as just a messy jumble of attributes that didn’t make sense together. Cooper, Tommy, Allegra, and the grandparents weren’t much more alluring either, all feeding off stereotypical archetypes.
The plot was also as disappointing as the characters and the secret. Instead of focusing on the mystery and intrigue, it was basically one, huge, fucked up love story rolled into a giant mess of love, hate, abuse, and drinking. I felt like I was reading Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train all over again with how often characters got drunk and blacked out.
I found that I was reading sex scenes more often than Lane searching for clues as to what happened to Allegra. What made it even worse was how Engel decided to wrap up this entire thing, making this entire 300 page book something that could have been solved within 30 pages. It was all so melodramatic by the time I got to the end, that I nearly threw up my hands in defeat 10 pages away from finishing.
Final Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
The Roanoke Girls was a hugely disappointing book. Instead of finding a fast-paced thriller, I found a drama stuffed with incest, pedophilia, affairs, and, basically to sum it all up, sex. I wasn’t bothered by the sex itself, but the fact that I was promised one thing, and had another shoved in my face.
Would I Recommend?
I’ve mentioned the triggers a few times already, so if you’re bothered by those things, don’t read this novel. I found nothing that would merit recommending this book, mainly because it doesn’t keep it’s promise as to what to expect.
Published: March 7th, 2017
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Page Count: 288
Synopsis: via Goodreads
Vowing to discover the fate of her missing cousin, a woman returns to her family’s Kansas estate where she spent one haunting summer as a teen, and where she discovered the dark heart of the Roanoke clan that left her no choice but to run.
Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. Allegra, abandoned by her own mother at birth and raised by her grandparents, introduces Lane to small-town life and the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But there is darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.
Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. “Come home,” he beckons. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago. Her return might mean a second chance with Cooper, the boyfriend whom she loved and destroyed that fateful summer. But it also means facing the terrible secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
As it weaves between the summer of Lane’s first arrival and the summer of 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.