What I thought:
Firstly, that cover! It’s so pretty (although I was amused once I’d received it to realise that it is the material that my parents living room curtains were in the 90’s). Secondly, I saw a quote from author Sarah Hilary that likened it to Flowers in the Attic for a new generation. I was obsessed with that whole series back in the 80’s. Sold!
The story of the Roanoake girls begins with sixteen-year-old Lane’s arrival at her Grandparents large, rambling Kansas estate in the height of summer after the death of her mother who ran away from this very house many years before. Cousin Allegra, also 16, has grown up in the house after her own mother died when she was a baby. Both are stunningly beautiful, like their mothers and aunts before them, and both are damaged. The intense summer heat is the perfect setting for this claustrophobic and stifling tale and the remote, strange atmosphere of the house all add to the unfolding macabre and twisted narrative.
Lane narrates most of the book, both 10 years ago and in the present day when she returns to the house after a long absence after learning of Allegra’s disappearance. This, and the voices of other Roanoake girls from the past (all of whom either died or ran away) that are interspersed throughout is a great vehicle for allowing the read to piece bits together slowly. I wouldn’t call this crime fiction, or even a thriller, but it certainly has the forward momentum of one. With believable and flawed characters: those who crave love, those who take advantage, and those who are damaged by lack of it. With deeply disturbing issues at its heart, The Roanoake Girls is not always a comfortable read, but it is a compelling one.
This is a dark and disturbing read, but once it gets you in it clutches you are as powerless as the Roanoake girls to resist its lure. Strangely addictive and deliciously twisted, I really enjoyed this book despite the content. It will certainly stay with me for a long time.