Book Review; The Familiar Dark- Amy Engel

Small Town. Big Secrets.

Page Count 256

 Publication date March 2020/ Publisher Hodder & Stoughton

GoodReads link



In a small town beset by poverty in the Missouri Ozarks two 12-year-old girls are found dead in the park. Their throats have been cut.

Eve Taggert’s daughter was one of them. Desperate with grief, she takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened to her little girl.

Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life – having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose parenting lessons she tried hard not to mimic. But with her daughter gone, Eve has no reason to stay soft. And she is going to need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the truth about her daughter’s death.



As you know the book begins with death. Engel absolutely shredded my heart with Eve’s grief over her daughter Junie. The writing is raw and bleak- there’s no sugar coating or fanciful wording, just a solid punch to the chest.

I liked Eve instantly for her strength and determination. I’d hoped from my previous read of Roanoake Girls that Engel would again be generous on character development and I was NOT disappointed. I do love a good underdog too so I was invested in Eve from the outset.

I was strangely drawn to Eve’s mother too. Though an abusive, neglectful criminal, something about her loyalty and fierce no-f*cks-given attitude to survival made Mrs Taggert an enjoyable character. She is the devil on Eve’s shoulder if you like.

Written in first from the perspective of Eve, The Familiar Dark tells the story of a woman raised in a violent abusive home and her fight to avenge her daughter’s murder without succumbing to the darkness she believes she has inherited.

My heart ached for the characters in this novel, both the good ones and the ill intentioned.
The Familiar Dark is a painfully emotional story of grief and violence in the backwater ‘hollows’.
I absolutely loved it.

Roxanne’s Reactions:

Author: Roxanne Michelle

Dramatic, curly-haired wannabe writer from a nowhere town in Somerset. Stop-starter of all projects great and small. Here to talk books, film, mental health and lifestyle.

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