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.
The Roanoke Girls was one of my books of its year so to say I was keen to get into The Familiar Dark would be putting it mildly.
For good reason it turns out – this novel is short but packs one hell of a punch, I devoured it over two sittings, one of those books you feel rather than read. Main protagonist Evie immediately grabbed my soul, a young mother determined to do better than her own, who none the less suffers the most unimaginable loss. Her grief, her anger is palpable, Amy Engel’s razor sharp insightful prose creating layer after layer of emotional resonance.
This is the tale of one woman’s journey out of, then back into darkness – the cleverly authentic setting is deeply integral to forming the people who live in it. The loss of her daughter drives Evie back towards those toxic relationships she tried to leave behind, her one focus to destroy the life that destroyed hers and took her daughter, every step of the way you are right there with her.
Deeply held secrets come to light, The Familiar Dark is full of very bad people who occasionally do the right thing and seemingly good people who hide their own demons, every nuance of human nature is here wrapped up in a hugely addictive piece of storytelling. The end, when it comes, is extraordinarily horrific in its reality and leaves you melancholy and full of feeling.
This was brilliant. All the way. Don’t miss it in 2020.