ARC Review // The Furies by Katie Lowe

ARC Review // The Furies by Katie Lowe

After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.

While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


Jane was the first to run. Sophia and Penelope died. Sisters Eleanor and Camilla ran, and the third sister, Emmeline, died. Lane ran from Roanoke after one summer. Allegra disappeared, and now Lane is the only Roanoke girl left who can return to the Roanoke house and help her.
After fifteen-year-old Lane Roanoke’s mother commits suicide, she is sent from New York to live with her grandparents and cousin, Allegra, at their farmhouse in rural Kansas. Lane has dreamt of the Roanoke house for years, despite her mother fleeing from the home whilst pregnant with Lane and warning her that it was a place of nightmares – for Roanoke girls either run, or they die. When Lane uncovers the truth, she becomes one of the girls to run.
Ten years after Lane’s long summer at Roanoke, her estranged family track her down with news: Allegra, the one member of the family who Lane truly cared about, has gone missing. Lane feels obligated to return to the Roanoke house to search for her cousin – but will the darkness of Roanoke allow her to leave a second time?

 (Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for sending me an eARC of The Roanoke Girls.)


Thrillers definitely aren’t my go-to genre. To be honest, I just scare too easily, so I tend to avoid most things that I know are almost guaranteed to have me curled up in a ball on the sofa every time I’m alone in my flat, unwilling to move in case a murderer crept through a window whilst I wasn’t looking. However, every now and then, I find a thriller with a plot that I just cannot resist. This started, of course, with Queen Gillian Flynn, whose complete works I grew to love after giving Gone Girl a chance. Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, similarly, unnerved me but kept me in it’s grasp. When I read the summary of The Roanoke Girls, I knew; this will be another one of those books that will almost definitely scare or unsettle me in some way, but that I’ll almost definitely love. As I guessed, I was right – I actually read this book in just one sitting.

I found The Roanoke Girls to be very reminiscent of Sharp Objects – the deep-hidden family secrets, the mystery in a small town of a Southern US state, etc. – and as this was my favourite Gillian Flynn book, I definitely wasn’t complaining. I immediately liked Lane and found that she was definitely a main character who I could easily read about for a long time, and the switches between her present life and her life ten years ago, when she was living in Roanoke, helped to build her as a character really well. I can’t fault any of the secondary characters, either – I just wish I’d gotten to know Allegra a bit better, although her elusiveness did add to the overall mystery of the plot.
The older Roanoke girls – Lane’s mother, aunts and great-aunts – all got small chapters about themselves, expanding upon the dark secret that the Roanoke family hides within itself. I thought that this little touch was such a good way to develop the plot and show how each of the girls were affected.

So, the secret of the Roanoke girls: I won’t say what it is, but it is revealed very early on into the plot. I didn’t have a problem with this, as it helped to expand what each of the girls have been through because of this family secret and the twisted way in which they had all accepted it at some point in their lives, rather than it being a big shock at the end of the book. Really, the mystery of the book as a whole was what happened to Allegra in the present day and what led to her disappearance, rather than finding out what the secret itself was. It is a very dark, unsettling secret, which some readers may not be comfortable reading about, so I’d just recommend being aware of this going into this book.

Honestly, my only problem with this book is that I wanted more. I wanted it to be longer so I could learn more about each of the characters, so I could continue to follow the mysteries of what happened at Roanoke house, so I could know more of Lane’s backstory and of what she was going to do next. I read that this is Amy Engel’s first adult novel, and I honestly cannot wait to read her next one if she writes more.

+

Love,

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

“But boys will be boys, our favourite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.” 



The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis is a young-adult contemporary bordering on the mystery/thriller genre. It is told in three perspectives – Alex Craft, a girl remembered solely for the murder of her sister, Jack Fisher, star athlete, valedictorian and the person every guy wants to be and every girls wants to be with and finally Peekay, nicknamed for being the Preacher’s Kid who is struggling to come to terms with heartbreak over her ex. Together, they tell the story of their senior year and how their lives come together and how it ultimately affects everyone.

I loved everything about this story. I read it in one day and I haven’t been hooked to a book that much in a long time. The plot, the writing, the characters – everything was just addictive. It does not fall into your typical YA coming-of-age story. Yes, it tells the story of three characters in their final year of high school and yes, there is drinking and sex and relationships and rivalry but the one thing Mindy McGinnis does is include horror. There are mentions of animal abuse, sexual assault and murder. It also deals with rape culture, slut-shaming and gender discrimination. Despite it being about teenagers, the author does not shy away from the violence and acts of justice humans are capable of.
Alex Craft is our morally grey character who isn’t afraid to punch somebody in the balls for touching her without permission, who attacks a man for drugging her friend and even kills her sister’s murderer. Since a child she has embraced her violent nature and yet she meets Peekay volunteering at an animal shelter and ultimately, is just a girl that cares too much. She can’t stand to live in a world where violent acts against women go unpunished. Jack is your typical valedictorian/star-athlete/popular guy who embodies boys will be boys and yet falls deeply and madly in love with Alex who will destroy anyone associated with that stereotype. This allows him to see typical male behaviour through new eyes. Peekay is the rebellious Preacher’s Kid who isn’t afraid to put the other girls down and feels like she needs to help people in the world. She misses her ex, has very supportive parents and is drawn to Alex and the way she sees the world. I love how complex she was and how much her character developed within the course of the story – she starts off hating Branley, the girl her ex left her for, even going as far as slut-shaming her and yet at the end, she is the one who helps and supports Branley when she needs support. Speaking of, Branley was such a refreshing character. She’s your typical Queen Bee, beautiful, heavily made-up popular girl who gets all the guys, including Jack but she is so multi-layered. She is just a young girl that wants to be loved and accepted, not just for how she looks. During as assembly about rape culture, some guys even shout that it is her who is most likely to be raped. There were times I wanted to scream at her for her actions but if anything, she’s the one character I was the most attached to emotionally.
Ultimately, this is a book about rape culture. When the justice system fails, can we step in? Can we take revenge into our own hands like Alex? One of the first conversations in this book explores the animal kingdom and how the female of the species are deadlier. Therefore, the story delves into animal vs human nature. How far can we go to protect those we love? Alex, who is capable of extreme violence in order to protect against Peekay who fantasises about violence and yet finds it doesn’t come naturally to her. The girls volunteer at an animal shelter and yet Jack works with his father in a slaughterhouse. This book is filled with parallels between the characters, acts of kindness vs acts of good.

The ending blew my bloody socks off and obviously I won’t go into details but let’s just say that I did not expect it. I started off really disliking and questioning what the author chose to do and if it had been any other book, it would have probably ruined it for me but for this book and the message it’s telling, it fits. Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and actually, I knew I would as soon as I read the synopsis. It is just my kind of story and it’s already much-loved in the Goodreads community. The author was very brave to write this novel and her hard work paid off. The writing flowed perfectly and although it was split between three perspectives, each character had their own unique voice. This was definitely one of my favourite reads in 2016 and I’m looking forward to see what else Mindy McGinnis releases in the future.

Love,