Review: The Familiar Dark – Amy Engel

The Familiar Dark

Amy Engel

Hodder & Stoughton

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781529368086

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

From the bestselling author of The Roanoke Girls comes a new novel with the same incredible atmosphere, strong sense of place and dark heart. The Familiar Dark will blow you away.

 

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.

 

 

My View:

Dark. Gritty. Poignant. So, so, sad.

2020 has been a fabulous year for all things crime fiction.  Each new read I finish I think “This is the best crime fiction read of the year”, and then I start the next book and I am blown away with how good that next book is. This book is another contender for Crime Fiction Book of the Year.

 

Dark and startling – you will not believe where this book takes you. I think there are a coup0el of points that make this read outstanding; the characters, particularly the protagonist Eve Taggert, is someone you just really want to see come out of this terrible situation well, I have so much empathy for this character and I guess many others will too.  The settings transport to you to small town America where Eve scratches out a living the best she can. And the social commentary, there is much written here about the objectification of women, women as possessions… and a savage a brutal crime with a jaw dropping conclusion.   Read this quick read, only 236 pages, perfect to read in one sitting.

 

I will leave you to contemplate on this quote from the book:

“That mouth one more thing I buried when Junie was born. Wanting to teach her a better way to approach the world.  One that wouldn’t leave her judged as poor white trash and not much else. But now I wonder if maybe a mouth like I used to have might have helped save her. Maybe she’d have been more likely to scream. To tell someone to go fuck themselves. To fight back. Or maybe it would have only have made the knife move faster. Truth is, there is no good way to navigate being female in this world. If you speak out, say no, stand your ground, you’re a bitch and a harpy, and whatever happens to you is your own fault. You had it coming. But if you smile, say yes, survive on politeness, you’re weak and desperate. An easy mark. Prey in a world full of predators. There are no risk-free options for women, no choices that don’t come back to smack us in the face. Junie hadn’t learnt that yet. But she would have, eventually. We all do, one way of the other. “ (pps 142,143 – Eve contemplating if she should have made her daughter tougher, less easy to be murdered… )

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Review: The Familiar Dark – Amy Engel

  1. That quote is really sad, Carol, but there’s a lot of truth to it. It sounds as though this book really has a punch.The Ozarks setting is a good background for the sort of story it is, too, and in this case, maybe ‘hard-edged’ isn’t such a bad thing to be…

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