Sunday, April 12, 2020

Book Review: "The Familiar Dark" by Amy Engel

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!! Amy Engel's new thriller was absolutely terrific.

“It’s never the thing you’re expecting that wallops you. It’s always something sneaky, sliding up behind you when your attention’s fixed on something else.”

Eve’s world is torn completely apart when her 12-year-old daughter, Junie, is found murdered. Living in the same poor town in the Missouri Ozarks where she grew up, Eve expected many paths her daughter might take, but she never imagined she’d be murdered alongside her best friend.

Although she is flattened by grief, Eve is determined to find who killed her daughter and make them pay. If that means riling up the town’s resident drug kingpin, with whom she has a volatile history, so be it. Her older brother Cal, a policeman, tries to keep Eve on the straight and narrow, but ultimately knows she'll do what she has to do to find justice.

Looking into Junie’s death will take Eve back to the trailer she grew up in, and her mother, an addict who is tough as nails and knows everything that goes on in the town. She raised Eve and Cal with alternating cruelty and neglect, and made it clear to Eve that she had very little desire to be a mother. Both siblings tried to veer as far away as possible from the path that their mother cut, Cal becoming a policeman and Eve trying to raise her daughter to have self-worth and opportunities. But above anything, they remember one thing about their mother: no one ever messes with her family and gets away with it.

The Familiar Dark is excellent and so worth the hype. It is full of twists and turns, emotion, and evocative imagery. I devoured this book and actually wished it was longer. It's certainly dark and sad, but it's a terrific thriller and I was really impressed with Engel's storytelling ability.

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