Published: 4th September 2012 by Strange Chemistry
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
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On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.
I had only vaguely heard of The Lost Colony before reading this book, so I was immediately hooked by the premise. Blackwood is dark and mysterious, filled with action, ancient curses and some seriously creepy magic – all of which I enjoyed!
Miranda and Phillips are a great pair of protagonists, whose story is told in alternating points of view. They play off one another’s strengths well since they both have interesting powers – Phillips can hear the voices of spirits and Miranda is cursed. Their interactions seemed realistic to me: initial fear and caution slowly fading into mutual respect and then admiration. I also liked how the two handled their blossoming romance in the face of the dangers besetting their island – they were able to push it all away and deal with their issues properly, which is always great to see.
I found the mythology used in Blackwood very interesting – no one really knows what happened to the 114 people who mysteriously disappeared, and I love Bond’s interpretation. The disappearances were creepy, and I was even wary of Phillips for the first few chapters. I enjoyed the introduction of John Dee – I’ve always found that mean creepy in history, and this book takes that and builds upon it until he is downright fearsome. Near to its conclusion Blackwood it gets a little confusing, and I found myself having to read a few passages twice to really understand what was going on, but I think this is intended because of the complex nature of the curse on the island.
Gwenda Bond’s debut novel is an intense read, perfect for YA readers who enjoy a darker kind of Fantasy. Blackwood is a perfect book for those bored with the usual paranormal aspects and want to try something new, and will be enjoyed by a wide audience because of its easily accessible themes.