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I Belong

Review: Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

BlackwoodTitle: Blackwood

Author: Gwenda Bond

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 4, 2012

Format: Paperback, 330 Pages

ISBN-10: 190884406X (Strange Chemistry)

ISBN-13: 978-1908844064 (Strange Chemistry)

Reviewed by: Kristie


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.

Quick & Dirty: Blackwood was really just an okay read for me, I had a hard time investing myself in the characters from this novel.

Opening Sentence: The first time Miranda Blackwood checked the back of her closet for a portal to another world she was eleven.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Blackwood was one of those novels, I’m not sure entirely why, that the cover just called out to me and because of that I really wanted to read this novel. I had high hopes for Blackwood but in the end it took me a while to finish this book. I just had a hard time getting into these characters so that really bogged down the read for me.

Miranda is a dreamer and often loses herself in her daydreams and TV shows. She often wishes that she were anywhere but on the island off the coast of Virginia where she grew up. The island just happens to be the same island, Roanoke, that many people disappeared from hundreds of years ago. During the tourist season, Miranda works behind the scenes on a play that tells the story of the disappearance. One night, her daydreaming catches up with Miranda when she sees a ship sailing from the audience towards the stage. She interrupts the play and generally makes an ass of herself but she doesn’t care. Miranda has always lived as a black sheep of the island because of her last name, Blackwood. Blackwoods have a tendency to be a strange folk and people generally make fun of them.

Miranda ponders if what she saw was real, while no one else seemed to see the big black ship overtaking the stage. As she gets home, the dogs in the neighborhood all go insane. Miranda finds it strange but has no idea why and ignores it. The next morning she wakes up to find out her dad never made it home. She doesn’t worry too much since he is the town drunk, he is more than likely sleeping it off at the police station. She goes to pick up her father when she discovers that many people from the town have disappeared overnight. She believes her father to be among them until she learns the tragic news that her father was actually murdered. Miranda is devastated but she doesn’t dwell on it too much because she wants to know if her fathers’ murder and the disappearances have anything in common.

Phillips is called home by his father, the Police Chief. Phillips left the island to get away from the voices in his head but because his father calls for his help and the fact that he sees Miranda on TV does he decide to finally come back. He finally got rid of the voices and he really didn’t want to go back but he also wants to know why 114 people disappeared. Phillips is drawn to Miranda and together they try to uncover the story of the Blackwood curse, Phillips voices and why everyone just reappears as suddenly as they disappeared. (*Off the topic rant* I really hated his name for some reason. If it was Phillip I probably wouldn’t have had a problem or if he was called by his last name I think I equally wouldn’t have had a problem, but add an ‘s’ to Phillip and I just kept screwing up his name everytime I read it. It just seemed like a really odd first name to me. Sorry to any actually (first name) Phillips out there.)

I love a good paranormal/fantasy story but I had a hard time just believing this one. The witchcraft/alchemy story was explained but I felt like there were just too many loopholes. And the potential for an insanely incestuous relationship really grossed me out. The writing was good and I really enjoyed the unique story that I haven’t really read. Blackwood did alternate between Miranda and Phillips POVs.

Overall, this was really just an okay read for me. I struggled at times with the characters and the massive amount of questions that kept coming up with the storyline while they received no answers as to what was going on. Read it if you like history and want to know what this author interprets as the reasoning for the Roanoke Island/Croatoan disappearances.

Notable Scene:

No Blondie, but she approved of the bands she knew. She hit shuffle mode and play and learned something else about Phillips. He kept the volume cranked way too loud. Jumping at the blare, she dropped the iPod on the vanity. Retrieving it, she looked up into the mirror, expecting to see nothing of note. Just her own tired face. Frazzled hair. Dark circles. Etcetera.

The strawberry-colored snake crawled along the top of her cheek toward her temple. Unmistakable. A birthmark, but not hers. Her father’s.

No one heard Miranda’s scream.


FTC Advisory: Strange Chemistry provided me with a copy of Blackwood. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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