3.5 7
by Gwenda Bond

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bond, a first-time novelist and PW contributor, presents a modern-day story set on Roanoke Island that offers an explanation for the mysterious real-life disappearance of 114 colonists from the island during the 16th century. When the exact same number of Roanoke residents go missing one night, Miranda, a town outcast whose alcoholic father is murdered the same night, and Phillips, son of the Roanoke police chief, try to figure out what happened. The story shifts focus between the two 17-year-olds, both of whom feel connected to the island’s mysteries: Phillips has heard the voices of spirits in his head for years, and Miranda’s family is believed to be cursed. Despite past bad blood between the teenagers, they work together, trying to save the island and everyone they love. Bond uses a wealth of pop-culture references to establish her protagonists as hip outsiders, though they may not age well (and Miranda’s constant use of the Battlestar Galactica expletive “frak” is intrusive). Still, Bond has created an engaging mythology and mystery involving alchemy, curses, and past lives. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"What delighted me about Blackwood was not only that it’s about the Lost Colony, but also that it’s a supernatural approach to the disappearance...A Favorite Book Read in 2012." - Lizzy Burns,

"This haunting, romantic mystery intrigues, chills, and captivates."
-New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith
"With whip-smart, instantly likable characters and a gothic small-town setting, Bond weaves a dark and gorgeous tapestry from America's oldest mystery."
- Scott Westerfeld, New York Times bestselling author of the Leviathan series
"A deft and clever debut!  Bond takes some reliably great elements — a family curse, the mark of Cain, the old and endlessly fascinating mystery of the Roanoke Colony — and makes them into something delightfully, surprisingly new. How does she do that? I suspect witchcraft."
- Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
"Weird, wise and witty, Blackwood is great fun."
- Marcus Sedgwick (shortlisted on 4 occasions for the Carnegie Medal, shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Award and won the Booktrust Teen Award)
"Miranda Blackwood's battle against her own history is utterly modern — and utterly marvelous. She's truly a heroine all readers can rally behind."
- Micol Ostow, author of family and So Punk Rock

"Blackwood is an excellent choice for anyone looking for paranormal YA, mystery, or just something a little bit different. Unlike a number of other recent YA titles, the romantic elements are fairly low-key. I think this makes Blackwood particularly boy-friendly, and also a good crossover title for adult readers."
Jen Robinson's Book Page

"It's definitely a wistful sort of novel about being different and dealing with scary stuff like losing your family and falling in love, as much as it is about ancient evils and terrible curses and supernatural menaces. It's nice to see a gentler, more personal sort of coming-of-age-and-battling evil novel, although of course Blackwood does deliver the required showdown with the forces of evil with the fate of the world at stake."
- Charlie Jane Anders,

"This book was an excellent mystery, full of romance, ghosts, ancient curses, historical figures, betrayal, and so much more."
- Delaney (age 12), Sacramento Book Review

"There’s quality writing here and Bond has some amazingly original idea. For fans of history, the supernatural, romance, pop culture references, and alternating POVs."
- Gillyb, Writer of Wrongs

Kirkus Reviews
The only mystery here is how one of America's oldest unsolved events--the Lost Colony of Roanoke--becomes tedious in this piece of speculative fiction. Seventeen-year-old Miranda Blackwood knows she's the town freak because her family carries a curse that has confined them for centuries to Roanoke Island, N.C., the same island from which the English colonists attempting to found the first colony disappeared without a trace. It doesn't help that she's begun seeing strange visions of the settlers' ships. After the island awakens to find 114 of its residents missing (matching the number of Lost Colonists)--and Miranda's father murdered--Miranda aims to find the causes. Phillips, a descendant of the "Witch of Roanoke Island," can "hear voices" when he is on the island, so his police-chief father summons him from his safe boarding school on the mainland to assist. In a third-person narration that alternates viewpoints, the passionless teens enlist the aid of crackpot theorist Dr. Roswell. Through him, they learn more about their ancestries and Elizabethan alchemist John Dee, who, according to Roswell, wanted to build a New London on Roanoke as a first outpost of an empire of immortals. When Dee returns from the past and takes possession of Miranda's dead father's body, the teens' new mission becomes keeping this egomaniac from realizing his dream. Just when adventure should set in, the story grows increasingly repetitive and mind-numbing. Readers will be lost, indeed. (Speculative fiction. 13 & up)

Product Details

Watkins Media
Publication date:
Strange Chemistry Series
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 7.58(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Gwenda Bond is a contributing writer for Publishers Weekly and regularly reviews for Locus. Her nonfiction work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons, among others, and she guest-edited a special YA issue for Subterranean Online. She holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts' program in writing for children and young adults. Readers of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet may know her as everyone's Dear Aunt Gwenda.

She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie: Hemingway the Cat, Polydactyl, LLC; Miss Emma the Dog-Girl, CPA; and Puck the Puppy, INC. This is her first novel.

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Blackwood 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
Talk about chills. I’ve always been intriguing by the dissapearance of the population of Roanoke, so I had to pick up this book about the mystery, and let’s say I wasn’t dissapointed. I liked the dynamics between the two main characters. They had some definite chemistry, and it’s not insta-love, so that’s great too. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lily_F More than 1 year ago
'Blackwood' caught my eye based solely on its beautiful and eye catching cover. Though I, like many other readers, JUDGE NOT by a cover, how can you resist a cover like this? Throw in a blurb about a century plus old mystery, which reenacts again on the same island, and I was game. This novel moved a little slowly for me, though it was packed with action. And initially I could not put my finger on it. There was so much happening all the time, and yet, I sighed repeatedly wishing the plot would move along. And then EUREKA! I think I figured out my issue. The tension building was in all the wrong places. 114 disappear. Holy crap, that's scary. Then... POOF!... they return. BUT there was no focus on the reactions of the town, nevermind that there was no believable reaction! If there was major confusion, curiosity or elation at seeing loved ones suddenly return, I didn't really feel it. Even Miranda didn't really question two of her friends, she pretty much accepted their return and moved on. Which I found odd. I would be vomiting questions, left right and center! But without going into major spoilers... Miranda's reaction, or lack of, to one very important person's return especially, was baffling for the lack of complete and utter shock, of which I know most people may feel. Once again, there was unnatural acceptance that all was not right, and moved on... I wish the author had focused on the odd behaviors as well, and built tension there. It would be scary if a loved one went missing, then suddenly reappeared and didn't behave like themselves. I would be really creeped out. Maybe downright terrified. And there was no real reader exposure to those feelings in the book. Miranda and Phillips were on a mission, and while I understand that action time needs to be devoted to that, there is only so much tension you can develop with that particular focus. I would have been riveted as a reader, if some of that focus was diverted to really exploring the oddness of the return, of their behaviors, etc... Moving on to the positives, I did enjoy this novel. I thought the premise was incredibly interesting. I have visited North and South Carolina a few times in my life, and honestly, never heard of Roanoke Island or its mysterious legend of the colony disappearance. This book definitely made me curious enough to spend a few hours googling the heck out of 'Roanoke Island', losing much needed sleep, to satisfy my curiosity. I really enjoyed Miranda and Phillips' characters. The undertone of their attraction and budding romance was endearing. I wanted Phillips to just MAKE A MOVE ALREADY!!! Phillips 'gift' was curious and fascinating, though I wish there had been more focus on that as well, as I was very curious at what the voices assaulting him were really saying... as in, most of the time, and not just on a couple of occasions. The author's own original take on this legend and then intertwining it into a present day disappearance and reappearance was very fascinating. There were constant spurts of action that made it really difficult to put the novel down. The ending was a mixture of 'meh' and 'Cool!'. I did like how the author ended the last scene. However, the 'big reveal' was not as explosive as I wished it had been. Regardless of my mixed feelings, I did like Gwenda Bond's style and imagination, and will look forward to future novels. Received ARC from publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.
JK1515 More than 1 year ago
Hmm...I can honestly say I have no opinion good or bad on this book. There were many interesting facets of this story, yet it was a little hard to follow along. This book has history, mystery, ancient curses, ghostly voices inside one's head, alchemy and body jumping bad guys. As I said, interesting facets of a story. There was a lot going on and the story felt busy in a good way. I wish the story wasn't so jumpy between Phillips and Miranda. It felt like a game of ping pong a little bit. I do like the idea of dual narration though. If you like history, then this book is for you. The author worked very hard at using an old history lesson and twisting it into a modern day story. I found the premise interesting. Okay folks, I think that is all I have to say about this book. It will be out 09/04/2012 if you want to venture a historical fantasy read.
PrettyInFiction More than 1 year ago
Blackwood by Gwenda Bond is about the lost colony of Roanoke and what happens when present day inhabitants of the island go missing. It's told in the alternating perspectives of Miranda Blackwood, youngest member of the cursed Blackwood family, and Phillips Rawling, the police chief's son who has a dark secret of his own. With a storyline jam packed full of history's mysteries, fans of suspense are sure to enjoy Blackwood. I enjoyed reading Blackwood. I found the writing to be reminiscent of L.J. Smith's books. Which is funny, because there is a lot of talk in Blackwood about The Vampire Diaries. Though it's the show, not the books, they're speaking of. It did make me giggle, though. In fact, there were quite a few pop culture references throughout Blackwood. Usually, that sort of thing is hit or miss for me. Sometimes too many references to movies or tv shows can kill the story for me. But in Blackwood, it just works. I found it really helped me connect with the characters. Miranda is a tough heroine. She's faced with this title of traitor, thinks she's destined to help the evil trying to take over Roanoke Island, but she never once stops fighting. Phillips is a great character. I fell in love with him from the very first second he shows up in the novel, climbing back into his dorm room window after pulling a prank on the principal of his boarding school. Miranda calls him her hero, but the truth is they are equals in their quest to save their home. I really enjoyed reading about both of their characters. Also, I adored Miranda's dog Sidekick. He's so cute! Blackwood is a fantastic paranormal thriller that reminded me of the show The 4400 at times. It's suspenseful and will keep you mystified until the very end. I'd recommend it to fans of paranormal romance or anyone interested in reading one author's explanation of the unexplained occurrences that took place on Roanoke Island over four hundred years ago.
kimba88 More than 1 year ago
I have always be intrigued by the mystery that surrounds the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island and when I saw the cover of Blackwood and read the synopsis I knew I had to read this tale. Author Gwenda Bond offers her unique twist on this mystery. I found this tale to be dark, gritty and creepy! It grabbed me at page one and the mystery kept me turning the pages. 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 want to thank Angry Robot and netGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.