Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
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.
The tale begins when we meet Miranda Blackwood; she is working at the local theater where they replay the tale of the missing colonist for tourist. Miranda hears and sees a giant ship moving its way towards the stage. Terrified it will crush an actress, she leaps on to the stage knocking the actress down. Expecting a crash she is shocked that the ship disappeared into thin air. Mortified by the stares, she heads home. Her drunken dad is on his way out and she curls up in bed with her dog, Sidekick. In the morning she wakes to discover her dad never returned home. She quickly assumes he has landed himself in jail again. She jumps in her car dubbed, “the pineapple” and heads into town to bail him out. What she discovers is that 114 residents of Roanoke Island have disappeared, the exact same amount that went missing and were never found in 1584. Her dad is among the missing. Sounds creepy right? The tale that unfolds kept me captivated as Miranda discovers secrets about the island and her family.
The characters in Bond’s novel were quirky, witty, scary and unique. I liked Miranda. She is known as the town “freak” and readily embraces this label. She marches to her own drum and has enough problems at home to even think about dealing with people’s opinions. While often timid she can be witty, sarcastic and brave. Phillip is the son of the town sheriff, who was so plagued by hearing the ghosts of spirits his parents sent him away to school. When everyone goes missing, his Dad decides he needs his freaky-kind-of-help. I liked Phillips’s need to protect Miranda, and his edgy bad boy personality. The back history and connection between, Miranda and Phillip was interesting, but lacked some of the depth I need from a sparking romance. It was not insta-love and there were some cute romantic moments. Other characters propelled the story, some felt right and others did not. I would have liked to have seen both present and past characters a little more fleshed out.
The world-building while not without flaws was refreshing and the storyline kept me turning the pages. Some events felt anti-climatic and others needed more back-story. Despite these flaws, I really enjoyed the tale and consumed this in a single afternoon. Bond’s writing style was enjoyable and the book was well paced. The mystery, the curse and the chain of events were both creepy and suspenseful. I love the mystery behind the Lost Colony and enjoyed this refreshing take on it.
I recommend Blackwood to fans of historical mysteries, fantasy and suspenseful tales. This is my first novel by Angry Robot and I look forward to more of their novels. I have added Bond to my author’s to watch list and look forward to reading more of her work.
I gave this novel 3.5 coffee cups out of 5.