This book is dark, disturbing, yet fantastic. I love stories with strong characters and this one didn't disappoint. It has great depth and a scrutiny of family values. I recommend this book!
I did not finish this one, it was not for me, I couldn't relate to the characters, and just did not care for the story.
This was a quick read but riveting. I kept turning pages to finally find out what was happening and I was not overly surprised but still a little shocked. This book kept my interest and I don't say that about many books I have reviewed. I would definitely read more by this author.
Amy Engel follows the brilliant The Roanoke Girls with this superb gritty, tragic, character driven, emotionally nerve wracking, atmospheric mystery set in the Missouri Ozarks in the small town of Barren Springs, a place barren of hope and opportunities in a desperate poverty stricken community, plagued by the social ills of drink and drugs. Single mom, Eve Taggert, works in a diner, a product of a tough and hard upbringing with a volatile and cruel meth addicted mother, and an older brother, Cal, who is now a police officer. She has tried to do her best for her beloved 12 year old daughter, Junie, ensuring that she did not grow up in the same circumstances as she did. The novel opens with the harrowing brutal murder of Junie and her best friend, Izzy, their throats cut, at the run down playground.
Eve's world collapses, torn apart by a unimaginable grief, she is plunged into the darkest of nightmares. She doesn't trust the sherriff to get to the bottom of what happened to Junie and Izzy and hunt the killer in their community. In response to the horrors of her situation, she turns her energies, fuelled by a vengeful fury, to get to the truth of what happened to Junie. Nothing is going to stop her, not the obstacles strewn in her path, Eve sheds any veneer of civilisation, willing to step into the fires of hell for justice. She traverses the town's underbelly, where no-one can be trusted as we learn of the details of her family and her traumatic history.
Engel writes a powerful story of loss, grief, lies and secrets, violence, misogyny, survival, the strength of female relationships, what it is to be a mother, and community. This vibrant novel is beautifully written and crafted, claustrophobic, melancholic, but if you are looking for a crime driven mystery, then this is possibly not a read for you. The author is far more interested in the characters, the flawed humanity, the place and the community. A tense, disturbing and suspenseful read that I recommend highly. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
I was provided an ARC of this book via Netgalley, thank you to Dutton for providing me a copy of this book. I've had this ARC on my backlog for longer than I'd like to admit, but am slowly making my way through the titles in my backlog. I'm so sad that it has taken me so long to read this. I ended up listening to the audiobook as this has been out since March of 2020. As always all opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I loved this! I found it hard to put down. This is a gritty mystery, and while I'm not typically a fan of books involving kids I was spellbound by this. It isn't particular gory or graphic, but it has alot of content warnings. This follows Eve in the wake of the murder of her 12 year old daughter. Eve has lived a hard life, but she loved her daughter and tried to be the best mother she could be. When her daughter and best friend are murdered, Eve promises to avenge the girls with the brand of cruelty she was raised with. She launches her own investigation, and she isn't ready for what she finds.
While this is filled with twists and turns, it has been a long time since I wasn't able to figure out what was going on and predict the ending. This had several surprises that I didn't see coming. This book isn't very long, the audiobook was just under 7 hours, but the author did a great job keeping the plot straight forward and doesn't over complicate things. I really liked the underlying story about Eve's family dynamics and the interaction she had with her mother. While her mother isn't exactly a likeable character, she shaped Eve into the woman she needed to be to seek justice for Junie and Izzy's deaths. This is a powerful story about grief, motherhood, poverty, and so much more. Engel did an amazing job writing a great mystery that really pulls on your emotions.
Unfortunately, I got a new kindle device and no longer have the download to this novel. I will not be reviewing this title.
The mystery within these pages is pulse-pounding and stomach-churning. The writing was brilliant and kept me hanging on every word. I adored this authors previous novel, The Roanoke Girls, and am excited to say this was just as exceptional.
one of my new faves of the year! i absolutely loved this book! i just had GOOD book vibes where i knew it would meet my expectations right off of the first 2 chapters.
anything relating to small towns really draws me in because that's what i grew up in as well, so just relating to the factor of everyone knowing everyone really put me in a different mindset reading this.
there was super strong female characters + small town drama, mixed with a murder mystery and a plot twist that i definitely didn’t see coming. go grab this book!
This was not at all what I was expecting. It was quite dark and sad and horribly depressing at times, so I definitely had to be in the right mood to handle it all. But wow, I'm really glad I read this one. It packs a punch for sure. And though I wasn't completely blindsided by the ending, it still left my stomach in knots and my mouth hanging open. If you're looking for an emotional mystery, this one is for you.
The Familiar Dark ~ Amy Engel
This dark and twisted tale starts with the murder of two teenage girls, Izzy and Junie. Junie's mother Eve will stop at nothing to find out the truth behind the murder. Sometimes... the answers are worse than the questions. 🔪🔪🔪🔪
I really enjoy Amy Engel’s ability to tell a dark and disturbing tale while pulling you into the story. Definitely a page turner.
This book will go in my top thriller books. This was my first book from Amy Engel and it definitely won’t be my last. I love that main character (Eve) had a strong female lead and the author kept me guessing almost to the end. I would definitely recommend this to others.
This was one of the shortest thrillers that I have read, but it packed a lot into less than 200 pages. I devoured it in one sitting, and thought it provided an in-depth look into the unique dynamics of the community in the Ozarks struck by tragedy.
I would include a content warning for anyone who has sensitivities to depictions of violence against children, and found some passages challenging to read. The grief of parents loomed heavy over this book and it was a very somber reading experience.
I thought that the first twist was great and a true surprise, but struggled with the ending of the book. I did not understand some of the character's logic, which was a departure from being able to relate to them through the remainder of the book.
I thought this thriller was an interesting character and community study, and would recommend as a very quick read.
I received an ARC of this book from Penguin Dutton Group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I started reading the book, but was not drawn in & decided not to continue reading. Thank you for the opportunity to review this book, but it unfortunately just didn't work for me to continue with it.
This book was extremely dark and gritty. If you can get past that, I think it is a great book! The writing was amazing.
I just can't get myself into reading this one. I think part of it is the whole murdered kiddo situation - as a parent that's hard to read. I thought I could, but I can't.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!