The Roanoke Girls - Dark tale of abuse in Kansas
The Roanoke Girls Amy Engel
Hodder & Stoughton
'The first time I saw Roanoke was in a dream" is the opening line of Amy Engel's first novel for adults and it doesn't take long for the tone to set in. "The second time I saw Roanoke was a month after my mother committed suicide."
Fifteen-year-old Lane finds herself in deep, rural Kansas in the care of grandparents she has never known. They are also guardians of another teenage grandchild; the feisty and fierce Allegra. Lane's childhood was difficult, so these new surroundings are both reassuring and intensely confusing in their intensity.
The teenage girls are swallowed up by the dangerously intensive relationship with their grandfather and the dark secrets contained within the mismatched walls of the Roanoke house. Lane leaves abruptly at the end of a long, hot summer and vows never to return.
Years later, Allegra disappears and Lane finds herself back at Roanoke. Revisiting the past is not something she wishes to do, but she has her suspicions surrounding her cousin's disappearance. It is not long before she finds herself sliding back into old routines.
Using individual voices of the Roanoke family tree, the story unfolds to reveal a history of deep and disturbing abuse but with an unusual, cult-like twist.
The abuser is idolised. The girls are sucked into his macabre world and are unable to disentangle themselves from his control.
This is a book that will divide its readers. Although a dark and uncomfortable read it is, nonetheless, wonderfully told. The writing is both delicate and sinister.
There are four generations of Roanoke girls and each member has a secret to reveal, each as depraved as the next. Whether you love or hate it, it is undoubtedly clever and memorable.