THE ROANOKE GIRLS, by Amy Engel, Crown Publishing


A gripping, provocative thriller about the twisted secrets families keep, perfect for fans of The Girls.

Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl.

But you won’t when you know the truth.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family’s rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls.

But what she doesn’t know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die. For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice…


I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

This book is not the greatest of literary fiction.  It’s filled with a main character that is cold, calculating, damaged and is unlikable from the beginning to the end. Is there character growth?  Sure… from rotten, narcissistic to worse.

She comes from a dysfunctional, nasty family that makes you feel tired, uncomfortable and angry reading about. The theme is vile, the women portrayed without morals, values, and a strange inability to know when they are being used, how wrong it is, and oh so beautiful, that men fall at their feet with desire, lust and uncontrollable urges.  Seriously, the issue of abuse is daunted by the girls’ reaction to the acts.  They either disappear or run away… dismissed.  No real follow up or explanation, just moving on to the next dysfunctional case for the sake of a mystery.

A mother commits suicide… okay… next…??? She wasn’t that great of a mother so, oh well… People are more complex than that.  To assume so much as to why a person commits suicide leaving behind a daughter, she hated… why, why, why? Sure, some of the reasons are pursued throughout the book, when lust isn’t getting in the way.  To assume that a chesty woman lusted after will give herself to the first man to show an interest is… hollow, filler, and blah.  Cause and reaction, there must be this formula in all books.  So, did I feel this formula was present in “The Roanoke Girls?”

It was really hard to tell from the blur of humping and bumping going on.  To be very honest with you, this book is based around a very important issue, but falls flat by how the author seems to sugar coat it with characters who are only concerned (or so it seems) with wanton sex.  The male characters are stereotypical… From the way the author writes about them, they may as well have a sign hanging from around their necks: “Have penis, need to park it.”

Throughout the whole book, I had the strangest feeling that the author had issues with the subject matter of her own writing. It’s hard to explain… The other thing that bothered me was how the author used the “shock factor” to drive the story forward and keep the reader hooked.  That shock factor, was the sexual abuse, the blatant sexual overkill, with raving big-boobed beauties that seemed to bring out the animalistic nature of all men who happen to see them, or be smiled at by them. Give me a break… Sexual abuse, DOES NOT categorically make all women slutty, and all men deprived deviants.

If we are looking for the bottom feeders found in the sewers of the human species, then go no further, they are all contained in “The Roanoke Girls.”  That many gutter rotting worms in one location can only leave your guts twisted up in repulsed knots, your head spinning from the over abundant misuse of sexual acts, and your senses on overload from the excessive use of hormonal pheromones, for the purpose of…  just cuz.

There are many books that should never be written.  Then, there are books that should be written to bring attention to issues of great importance that otherwise are often pushed under the rug… This book belongs in both.  Not because it’s poorly written; I haven’t even begun to break it down as to structure, and if I were to, the author actually wrote this book with great proficiency.  However, in my opinion, using the topic of “sexual abuse” as a thriller motivator/tool… not good.

In truth, this book is a vile, hot mess.  It’s premise, misleading and ineffective.  The theme, deserving of more than what it got.  The characters were created as pawns in a dysfunctional thrill ride, and, the Protagonist unworthy of the role given her.

Overall, I’m greatly disappointed in this book.

I gave this book:


half star for the cover.




3 thoughts on “THE ROANOKE GIRLS, by Amy Engel, Crown Publishing

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