#ATBR2020 – The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

Another 5 star read for the #allthebookreviews duo!

Thanks to Dutton for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews

THE FAMILIAR DARK – Amy Engel (Releasing March 31st, 2020)

You can see our thoughts on Engel’s other release, THE ROANOKE GIRLS (here)


Book Description:

A spellbinding story of a mother with nothing left to lose who sets out on an all-consuming quest for justice after her daughter is murdered on the town playground.

Sometimes the answers are worse than the questions. Sometimes it’s better not to know.

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.

The Familiar Dark is a story about the bonds of family–women doing the best they can for their daughters in dire circumstances–as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home.

Chandra’s Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Apparently I am now a full fledged Amy Engel fan as this is my second book and my second 5 star review.  First The Roanoke Girls and now The Familiar Dark. Holy crap on a cracker, y’all. The book opens up with two twelve year old girls being found murdered in a small and very poor town.  This town holds the dark, the ugly, everyone knows everyone and sometimes it truly is better to just let things lie rather than dig for the truth. But when it’s YOUR daughter that’s been murdered, dig you will.

This is (appropriately) a funereal read.  There’s no levity, just a gritty read into the mind of a grieving mother whose only bright side in her entire life has just been taken from her.  And while the reader is gripped into what did happen, we get lost in Eve’s story.  Her childhood, her relationship with her brother and her absolute will to not be the mother her own mother was.  We are spiraled into the many secrets of Eve and as things get revealed, we don’t jaw drop – we just feel more and more for her.  But the biggest part of this book is the relationship Eve has with her mother and you will fully understand what I mean by this when you read this.

It was until that ending and that just pure emotion of my heart going out to several of the characters that this became that five star read.  And I LOVE that while this was such a melancholy type read – I was glued to the emotions that came forth.  Put this on your tbr.  Get to know Eve.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

I became a fan of Amy Engel after I finished reading THE ROANOKE GIRLS, so I was anxious to see what was in store for us next. Once I saw glowing reviews from some fellow Bookstagrammers I knew I needed to dive in right away. If you’re going into this expecting a thriller then you might be disappointed, but let me tell you, the gritty and dark nature of this book will keep you glued to those pages.

What I loved the most was how atmospheric this was. The author sets the scene perfectly and you’re transported into this small town – you can feel the despair, the grief, and heartbreak that the characters are experiencing as the story progresses. While we are trying to solve a murder of two young girls, I feel like that isn’t the main focus of the book. This more character driven and you don’t even realize you’re starting to feel for our main character until the end.

Harrowing, dark, full of tension, borderline claustrophobic, and emotional. A small poor town full of secrets that they want to keep hidden, but Eve is determined to find out what happened to her daughter. This one packs a punch and Engel has become an auto-buy author for me without a doubt. I highly recommend you add this one to your TBR, as well as her other book THE ROANOKE GIRLS.

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