The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel – Review

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By Charlotte Broadhead

I picked up The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel in that strange in-between time over Christmas and New Year, hoping for a distraction from the never-ending cheese boards and chocolate boxes – and I was not disappointed.

Set in the forgotten parts of the Missouri Ozarks, this gritty thriller grips the reader from the first page. Main character Eve Taggert has struggled through a horrific childhood and scraped together a bearable life for herself and daughter Junie until her whole world crumbles when Junie and her best friend Izzy are cruelly murdered.

the unfamiliar dark amy engel book review coverLacking faith in a corrupt local police force, Eve takes things into her own hands, diving into the drug-filled hollers she left behind seeking justice for her daughter.

“Dark Secrets”

The novel is told in the first person from Eve’s point of view, immediately throwing the reader into the depths of emotion that come with losing a child. Eve is grieving on the inside, but confident, strong and at times impulsive on the outside. I couldn’t put the book down and chapter by chapter I found myself understanding Eve’s motives and decision-making process. With the turn of every page I was rooting for her to find the truth.

There’s a fascinating relationship between Eve and her mother and a past of neglect and abuse becomes what Eve needs to lean on in order to solve the mystery surrounding Junie’s death.

This contrasts entirely with Izzy’s parents, Zach and Jenny Logan. The Logan’s are the ‘golden couple’ of the town perceived to have wealth and status, yet throughout the pages – and without giving too much away – it becomes clear all is not as it seems.

Indeed, each character in this book is not as they appear; dark secrets are unravelled throughout with the pieces finally falling into place during the last few chapters.

The Familiar Dark is a ‘must’ read – tragic, heart-breaking and totally unpredictable, Amy Engel deserves the highest of praise and I look forward to her future work.

‘The Familiar Dark’ by Amy Engel is published by Hodder & Stoughton, hardback £14.99 – available from March 30


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