The Roanoke Girls

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Unlike most books that I pick up, I got it after seeing the cover.  Usually, I ignore the cover and decide whether or not to get the book after reading the summary, but I had a feeling about Amy Engel’s The Roanoke Girls.  It probably helped that, at the time I checked out the Roanoke Girls, I had just finished Rooms, and this book echoed a similar creepiness.  Whatever the case may be, I didn’t regret my impulsiveness.

Following her mother’s suicide, fifteen-year-old Lane Roanoke moves in with her grandparents and cousin on their massive estate in Kansas.  knowing little of her mother’s family, Lane embraces her new life…  until she discovers the family’s darkest secret.  Eleven years later, Lane gets a call in her current home in Los Angeles from her grandfather: her cousin, Allegra, is missing.  Feeling guilty for leaving her behind, Lane returns and helps look for Allegra.

Weaving effortlessly between Lane’s first summer and her return to Roanoke, Amy Engel spins a tale of destructive relationships, gentle manipulation, and how twisted love can be.  Set in a town frozen in time, secrets are guarded viciously and family life is a game of whether or not your wits are intact.  Dark, terrible, and fierce, The Roanoke Girls will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.  I give this gorgeous wisp of a nightmare four out of five stars.

Rooms, Rooms. Too Little Room.

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In accordance to my usual ritual when reading books I know I’ll like, it took me awhile to actually sit down and read.  Since 2015, when the local library first got the book, to be exact.  After checking it out at least five times and reading the first twenty pages over and over again, I decided enough was enough.  Summoning my inner Sandra (a lead character in the book), I kicked up my feet and began devouring Lauren Oliver’s Rooms.

“Everything comes up in the end.”  That’s what Sandra, one of the two ghosts haunting Coral River, said.  Indeed, when the owner of the house, Richard Walker, died and left his alienated family to pack up his belongings, it seemed that secrets would be uncovered.  Sandra and Alice (the other ghost) pass the time bickering, watching the Walkers, and reminiscing their pasts.  While his sister, mother, and niece were busy packing and preparing for his father’s funeral, Trenton began to communicate with an new ghost, and the spirit and human worlds collide.

Filled with smart dialogue, vivid descriptions, and frighteningly relatable characters, Rooms buzzes to life, and is as painful and reassuring as it is mysterious and haunting.  From its eerie beginning and climatic middle and bittersweet ending, Ms. Oliver’s ghost story and family drama will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.  It’s like a fine, aged wine.  It starts out tasty and gets better with every drop.

I easily rate this a five out of five stars.