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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

The Truth About The Lost Colony of Roanoke: A Review of The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.


How’s everyone doing today? Have you had a nice week thus far? Was your weekend good? I hope it was. Anyway, welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life. I have a new review for ya this week. Are you ready to solve one of the greatest mysteries of all time? Are you ready for a retrospective on love and loss? Good!


So please welcome to the stage The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock!

Book cover of The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock.

Before we get to the synopsis, a spoiler alert is in order. If you’ve read any other review on this blog then you know I love to spoil the entirety of my reads. This is your one and only warning. I am also going to issue a content and trigger warning. This book deals a lot with death so if that topic is going to affect you I highly suggest skipping this book. Some major themes of this read are definitely grief and loss. There is also a scene mentioning some antisemitism. The TL;DR is the book’s main character gets told a story about an innocent Jewish man being attacked by a lynch mob. You can avoid this scene but I do think it is important to the story at large so I recommend reading it. With that, let’s get to the synopsis.


Alice is a young war widow like many other women in the 1940s. While still grieving her husband, her father passes away. With his death she inherits a stately old manor house in the Georgian country side that once belonged to her deceased mother. Alice and her father left this manor, known as Evertell, soon after her mother’s death years ago and never returned.

Cue the spooky music!

While this may sound like the set up for a horror novel where Alice returns to Evertell after many years only to be haunted by the ghost of her mother, that does not happen. Yes, Alice returns to Evertell with her 13-year-old daughter Pennilyn in tow but there are no supernatural elements to report. Alice’s plan is to sell the massive estate and surrounding land, but the past has something different in mind.


Pennilyn is entranced by the estate and her grandmother’s lineage. All the way back in the late 1500s, their ancestors sailed from England to a little known placed called Roanoke. Eleanor Dare was the name of this ancestor and there are two things she left behind: a message she carved into a large stone about what happened to those who sailed with her and a book that was passed down to her by her mother. This book, known in our story as the commonplace book, has been passed down 15-generations to the current descendants. With this book comes the knowledge of what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke, and it is Pennilyn’s turn to learn this secret. Except Alice doesn’t want this for her daughter. Alice wants to keep the past in the past, sell Evertell, and use that money to build a bright future. But it seems Evertell and Pennilyn have other plans.


Have I posed this story like a horror story? Yes. Is The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare a horror novel? Absolutely not. Do we get closure, even if it’s fictional, about the Lost Colony of Roanoke? Yes, but it’s completely unsatisfying.

Ariel sighing.
*Le sigh*

The official synopsis had me hook, line, and sinker. The Lost Colony of Roanoke is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time and the book’s synopsis really played up that aspect. I am a simple girl, if you give me theories on an unsolved mystery, imma eat that shit up. I don’t know why Roanoke was included though. Its inclusion adds nothing to the plot. There are maybe five chapters, that don't appear for a good chunk of the novel I may add, from Eleanor’s perspective that offer nothing. Again, I never went into this read expecting any real closure on this unsolved mystery, but its inclusion was played up way too much. I feel like I have been catfished by Roanoke’s inclusion; if I can even call it that.


A shame considering the story between Pennilyn and Alice is quite lovely. They have both been changed forever by grief and are learning about each other once again. They’re learning, or in Alice’s case re-learning, about the family history and the events that shaped their family as well as looking back on the events that shaped them. Their story is about finding a spark of hope whilst grieving. Too bad I couldn’t properly enjoy their story because I was looking for mystery and folklore the whole time.

Thumbs down.

Now let’s get to an issue that doesn’t have to do with Roanoke. This book moves at a snail pace and suffers because of it. Nothing happens! It’s so boring! Interesting happenings are few and far between. I’m not gonna lie, I almost didn’t finish this read. The slow pacing practically put me to sleep. My interest was rarely peaked and it took nearly two weeks for me to get through.


I know there are readers out there for this novel; it’s just not for me. I am one of the readers who want more about the Lost Colony of Roanoke and its mystery. Can you tell I’m bitter from being catfished by the official synopsis?


With that I shall bid you all adieu. I’m going to go be salty about this book now. Next week I’ll be back with another great post. Spoiler, it’s not a review but it’s one I’ve been working on for quite some time and is one a lot of you are going to enjoy. If you can’t wait until a new post drops you can also check out my podcast Nothing to See Hear on Spotify and YouTube. You can listen to me tell you a spooky story or you can listen to me and my co-hosts talk Scooby-Doo. I promise you’ll like it. I also promise I’ll talk about the Lost Colony of Roanoke one day on the show!


Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!


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