Published by: Strange Chemistry on September 4, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
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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.
Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America's oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.
Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
Blackwood was an engaging and fast paced read! Gwenda Bond does a great job of holding back just enough information to keep the reader engaged and ready for more. The book is made up of playful language that puts the reader on the same level as the characters. It definitely read like a “young adult” book and that’s what I loved about it. The language and style of writing lit up the characters’ personalities and gave them unique voices that I came to really love.
Both Miranda and Phillips had great personalities, and that’s really what sold me on the book in the end. I LOVED the subtle humour that came from Miranda’s character. Miranda would occasionally have these awesome, sarcastic comments off to the side. Here are two examples:
NOTE: Quotes taken from an advanced copy.
“So how do you guys know each other?”
That didn’t take long.
“We don’t really. Phillips just—” happened to come by so I shot him with an ancient gun “—gave me a ride to the courthouse.”
Miranda had no clue what to do. This was the kind of thing she should have brought up in polite conversation with Sara earlier. What do I do if your son suddenly goes spirit tuning fork again?
Her little remarks constantly had me chuckling and definitely kept me engaged in the book!
There was one character problem that irked me. Phillips and Miranda’s relationship felt too much like insta-love. Their relationship was definitely cute and I love how they both over analysed each other’s actions. It made things pretty amusing! But the whole book took place over a few days. At the beginning, Phillips was the annoying, troubled boarding school kid who had once humiliated and mocked Miranda. So naturally, she was a bit pissed and expecting the worst when he showed on her doorstep. But within 24 hours, they were already falling for each other. And by the end of the book, which couldn’t have been more than a week later, they were officially a couple.
If the story had taken place over a longer period of time, I think it would have been a great romance. The two characters had wonderful chemistry and I loved both of them. It just annoys me that it happened so quickly. To be fair, they weren’t actually professing their undying love for one another, but the shift from hatred to “almost love” still happened so quickly. It was nowhere near as bad as the insta-love in some other books I’ve read though.
On another note, I would have liked the author to go into more detail about some events and back stories. We got plenty of background information on the lost colony through Dr. Roswell and his notes, but I never felt like I really understood John Dee. It was obvious what he was trying to accomplish, but I just didn’t quite understand where the idea had originally come from (sorry for being vague here, but I’m trying to avoid spoilers!). Some parts of the ending also felt a little rushed to me. Sometimes I thought, “Wait, what just happened?” It could have used a bit more suspense towards the end.
Overall, I enjoyed the book but didn’t love it. It was a good and enjoyable read, but I wasn’t totally hooked. Sometimes I did feel my mind wandering elsewhere, but the positive elements (such as my love for the characters) kept me engaged and enjoying the book.