Cover Image: The Familiar Dark

The Familiar Dark

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Member Reviews

I feel like if I had read this a year ago I would've really liked it, but now I found myself longing for just a little more. It's still a stunning thiller, just not my favorite anymore.
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THE FAMILIAR DARK was a gripping narrative as many have said. However, for me, it was a little difficult to get into in the beginning. As I progressed, things picked up a little more, but it was the ending that truly got me.
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I struggled to enjoy this one. I found it to be a bit boring and not worth the read for me. I wish there was a bigger reveal or more interesting characters.
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I sure do love a crime novel set in the Ozarks! I also loved Amy Engel’s 2017 novel, The Roanoke Girls, so I was very excited to pick up her latest, The Familiar Dark. For me, The Roanoke Girls had a signature line: “Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.” So does The Familiar Dark: “Little girls were never safe. I should know; I used to be one of them.” This one does get dark indeed, but Amy Engel’s unique style of unspooling information and placing big reveals where you least expect them had me hooked! I would recommend this one to fans (and super-fans like me 🤓) of rural noir novels like those by David Joy and Laura McHugh.
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I was really excited to read this title, but unfortunately I found it to be just OK.  I had a hard time relating to the characters and the setting, and I hated the "big reveal".  Too bad, as it was much-hyped!
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Oh my goodness! This book had me hooked from the VERY first page! This dramatic and heat pounding search for a daughter’s killer was so intriguing I couldn’t put it down until it was finished. This is a must read for any fan of dark mysteries. I loved this book and highly recommend anyone to read it! Thank you so much for allowing me to read this copy of this amazing book! Thank you to Dutton Books for providing me with a digital copy of this book!
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This book was a great dark twisted thriller that completely sucks you into the story. It took me a while to really get into it but I did I couldn't put this book down and had to finish it. So many great twist and turns and so any great secrets to uncover.
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There are books meant for a specific reader. I guess this one was not made for me. I hard a hard time connecting with the story and characters. Maybe it’s a case of wrong time/right book. So I’ll try again to re read later with a fresh head. Thank you for the copy!
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By far one of the best but most gut wrenching books I've read ever! I felt every emotion Eve Taggert felt. Look forward to reading Amy's next book!
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Filled with grit and toughness this was an amazing read. 

Eve's resilience and extraordinary drive to find out who killed her daughter, while having to face hard men in the face without backing down in order to get what she wanted didn't seem like an easy thing to do. She put herself in harms way, turned love away, stared her demons toe-to-toe was inspiring. 

As women we often shrink down to what men think we should be and reading how Eve not only grew up in a tough home with a mother who wasn't exactly the best gave me hope. If Amy can create such a character there's no reason why we can do the same as Eve. 
Most often mothers will bare their teeth and show their claws when their children are threatened, only Eve didn't have that choice. Her daughter taken from this earth way too soon gave her the gumption to do whatever it took to take and eye for an eye. Normally, I wouldn't agree with this methodology but in this case, with this book, it totally worked. 
You will not believe who the killer is when it's finally revealed and I loved that most about Amy's writing. She kept hidden the most important part until it slams you in the face and you're left wondering what you missed. 
Bravo!!
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This was a fast paced thriller, that was hard to put down, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I did read one of Engel’s other novels “The Roanoke Girls” and I did not enjoy it whatsoever, but I thought this book sounded interesting and I figured I would give her another shot. I’m really glad I did because this book was well worth the read and a very far cry from “The Roanoke Girls”. (You can read my review of that book here.)

The story centers around Eve, a mother who is trying to find her 12 year old child’s murderer. I thought the interesting aspect of this book was the fact that it takes place in the Missouri Ozarks and Eve travels through the town’s seedy underbelly and must confront some dark memories from her past in order to find the answers she seeks. It’s a story that I think we can all get behind, a grieving mother trying to get justice for her daughter, and even revenge. Because of this it’s easy to cheer Eve along, despite her character’s demons. It’s interesting to see a thriller that takes place in a small Midwestern town and deals with characters that live in poverty and are forced to adapt to difficult situations. It’s harsh but it’s real and I appreciated how raw and gritty the story was. That being said I have trigger warnings listed at the end of the review and there are a ton, pretty much every one you can think of. This definitely isn’t a story for the light of heart.

The writing is fantastic, like I said it kept me turning pages and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on. There are plenty of twists and a lot of them I was pleased I didn’t see coming, it’s a very complex story line but it was still easy enough to follow. It’s 256 pages so it is fairly short, and it’s a wild, fast ride from beginning to end. I am not quite sure how I feel about the ending, it felt a little anti-climatic but at the same time I was satisfied enough with it.

I would say this is more character driven and thus the characters are also very complex, they’re also very morally ambiguous and dark. Eve is a badass but she’s far from perfect and that’s part of why I felt this book and her character were so real. The book isn’t afraid to show you the dark side of life and the human psyche. There are a string of intriguing characters along that way such as Eve’s abusive mother she does her best to avoid and Cal, her police officer brother. Each character added a bit more depth to the story and as complex as the emotions are and their relationships with Eve are, I did feel like I didn’t get to know them quite that well. There isn’t a lot of background or history with the characters and I would have loved to know a bit more about them.

What I Loved:

    Fast paced and well written.
    Plenty of twists, engaging plot.
    The setting: small Midwestern town.
    Dark, realistic situations and characters.
    Complex protagonist (who is also a badass).

What I Didn’t Love:

    Ending felt a little anti-climatic.
    Would have enjoyed a bit more background on certain secondary characters. 


Overall I definitely recommend checking “The Familiar Dark” out if you’re looking for a dark thriller or a really fast read. It’s an engaging story that you can’t help but feel emotionally attached to at the same time, it’s worth the read.

Trigger Warnings: Child Death, Murder, Child Abuse, Pedophilia, Physical/Domestic Abuse, Drug & Alcohol Abuse

*** Huge thank you to Dutton Books for providing me with a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ****
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Gritty, emotional family thriller that everyone has been talking about this year. It was unexpected to me because I was going in thinking it was going to be a thriller and it became more than that with the layers of family disfunction. Enjoyed this fast paced and engaging thriller.
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I really enjoyed this small-town, gritty thriller.  When a town full of poor people in the Ozarks has two 12-year old girls found dead in the park, two mothers, seemingly from opposite sides of town find solace and solidarity in their grief.  Old loyalties, relationships and history are dredged up and they find they have more in common than they realized.  This was a surprisingly quick read, and I'm only sorry I didn't get to this book sooner!
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Another dark, twisty thriller from Amy Engel. Two 12-year-old girls are brutally murdered, sending the mother of one girl down a dark path into her past to find the killer. How far would you go to find the person who killed your child?
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While I loved Engel's last novel, The Roanoke Girls, The Familiar Dark just didn't work for me. Maybe it was the chaos of this year, but I just could not lose myself i9n this story. For this reason, I did not do a public review.
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This book certainly kept me hooked until the end. I could hardly put it down. I did have a little trouble with the ending though and that is why I couldn’t give it 4 stars. 

I enjoyed the bleak background and the grittiness of the characters. I also liked that the main character was not perfect. 

All in all I enjoyed reading it. So 3.5 stars! 

<I>Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for an advance copy of this book. </I>
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Thank you Netgalley and Dutton Books for a copy of this book to read and review.

This was my first time ever reading a book by Amy, I can't wait to read more. This book was so dark, but yet so very good. It was haunting as the book opens up with the murders of Izzie and June.
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This book was SO GOOD! It was not too long and not too short. It was so well written and I had no idea how it was going to end up. I loved this book and can't wait to see what more comes from Amy Engel! Highly recommend to anyone that loves a good thrill and a book that isn't too long!
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Dark is certainly the word. I devoured this in a little over a day. It reminded me of True Detective or Sharp Objects. Gritty, dark and consuming.
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What a mess Eve's life is. Her 12 year old daughter, Junie, has just been killed along with her best friend.
Eve grew up with a mother who did drugs and beat her and her brother Cal. When Eve gets pregnant before finishing high school, she vows to be a better mother than her own was. 
She frantically searches for her daughter's killer.
She gets caught up in the mess of her small town. A place where everyone is helpful and nice but underneath it all.... Is dirty and rotten.
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