- Date published: 4th September 2012
- Publisher: Strange Chemistry
- Format: Paperback, 352 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781908844071 ISBN 10: xxx
- Categories: YA Fantasy
- Goodreads / The Book Depository / Booktopia (AU) / Bookworld
- Source: provided by the publisher for review
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.