Published by Crown ISBN 9781101906668
Hardcover, $25, 274 pages
It's interesting that I read two books set in Kansas back-to-back. One, To The Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman, (review to follow) is about a wonderful group of small-town Kansans who band together to help each other and their community in the aftermath of a tornado in a neighboring town.
The second book, Amy Engel's The Roanoke Girls, is also set in a small town in Kansas, but with a much darker tone. Teenage Lane Roanoke moves from New York City to her grandparents' farm in Kansas following the suicide of her mother.
Lane's mother was a very sad, disturbed woman and Lane is unsure about moving from the bustle of New York to a desolate town where she knows no one. Her concerns are eased immediately when her loving, charismatic, handsome grandfather Yates Roanoke warmly welcomes Lane, telling her how happy he is that she is coming to live with them.
Lane meets her cousin Allegra, who alternates between being thrilled to have another young person living in the home with her to anger and distrust of Lane. The farm is rounded out by their grandmother Lillian, who disappears after dinner to drink, Sharon, the housekeeper/cook who is fiercely loyal to Lillian, and Charlie, the farmhand who is always lurking about at the edges.
One of the first things Lane sees is a photograph of all the Roanoke women- Yates' sisters, and his daughters, all beautiful women who all either died young or ran away. Allegra's photo is there, with a space next to her for Lane's photo.
Lane and Allegra are teenage girls and they become involved with two boys from town, something that their grandparents actively discourage. Something is off about the Roanoke farm, but Lane can't quite put her finger on it.
Years pass, and Lane returns home because Allegra has disappeared. Lane is determined to find out what happened to her and to finally confront the secrets of why all of Roanoke women either left or died.
The Roanoke Girls has a very creepy Southern Gothic feel to it, even though it is set in Kansas. People who grew up on V.C. Andrews novels and TV's Law & Order:SVU will most likely be drawn to The Roanoke Girls. The story reminded me of Laura McHugh's powerful novel The Weight of Blood, and I was not surprised to see that she blurbed the back of the book.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Amy Engels' tour. The rest of her stops are here:
Amy Engel’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, March 6th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, March 7th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, March 8th: Bookchickdi
Thursday, March 9th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Thursday, March 9th: Buried Under Books
Friday, March 10th: Not in Jersey
Monday, March 13th: Laura’s Reviews
Tuesday, March 14th: Sweet Southern Home
Wednesday, March 15th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, March 16th: Books and Bindings
Friday, March 17th: Rebel Mommy Book Blog
Monday, March 20th: Fuelled by Fiction
Tuesday, March 21st: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, March 21st: SJ2B House of Books
Wednesday, March 22nd: Write Read Life
Thursday, March 23rd: Luxury Reading
Monday, March 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, March 28th: A Fantastical Librarian
Wednesday, March 29th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Wednesday, March 29th: Patricia’s Wisdom