Early Review: Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

, by Kt Clapsadl

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.

Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.

To this day no one really knows what happened to the 114 people who mysteriously disappeared from Roanoke Island so many years ago. The current inhabitants of the island have capitalized on this mystery and have centered things around it for the tourists. So when 114 people suddenly disappear, everyone thinks it is a publicity stunt at first. But two teens from very different backgrounds know different and they set out to find the missing. What the find will both shock and terrify as the age old mystery finally gets answered, even as they wish it had stayed firmly hidden. 

I've always been a sucker for unsolved mysteries from the past. From Atlantis to Roanoke Island, there's just something about the unknown that really intrigues me. So when I read the description of Blackwood, I knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, now that I have, I can't help feeling a little let down as it was nothing like I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it was an interesting story, but at times it was rather bizarre, and too out there for me, especially as the mystery behind the 114 disappearances was revealed. This is one of those cases where the build up and mystery is much better than the reveal. I couldn't help thinking that's it? I felt like so much more could have been done with it and in the end I felt there was a lot lacking.

I did really enjoy the characters in Blackwood, especially Miranda and Phillips and felt the romance was handled well with a mostly natural progression. I do wish there had of been more time spent on their development rather than being overshadowed by the chaos of the disappearances since they wound up being so much more interesting in the end. Even so, their intertwined pasts were very intriguing, especially as it influenced the present, and I loved seeing them grow together.

The entire book had a rather disjointed feeling and lacked a clear focus. Perhaps if things hadn't of been so rushed and all over the place it would have felt a little bit more contained rather than undeveloped, leaving everything feeling chaotic and lacking that polished feel. I just feel like things could have been condensed to help pull in the plot threads and make everything go a little bit smoother. There was so much unrealized potential in Blackwood, but unfortunately, it just couldn't seem to come together and ultimately fell flat. It's just one of those cases where the story is enthralling, but the execution was severely lacking. 

(Received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley)

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