Blackwood

Blackwood

3.5 7
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

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Overview

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, SchoolLibraryJournal.com

"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."
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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, io9.com

"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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781908844071
Publisher:
Watkins Media
Publication date:
09/04/2012
Series:
Strange Chemistry Series
Pages:
416
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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