Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

BlackwoodAuthor: Gwenda Bond
Genre: Paranormal, Thriller
Pages: 416
Published: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Source:  I received a copy for review from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"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." ~Goodreads

I have always been fascinated by the mystery surrounding the lost colony of Roanoke.  The idea that over 100 people could vanish without a trace is terrifying and a great jumping off place for a novel.  Thus, I was super excited to read Blackwood.  To make things even better this is a ghost story, which we all know is my very favorite thing.   I think I played it up so much in my head that it would have been hard for Bond's novel to live up to my expectations and, unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to my self-inflicted hype.  Don't get me wrong, it was a very enjoyable read, but I wish it would have gone in a different direction.  I'll stop being evasive now and just get on with.


Great setting and plot line:  This book takes place almost entirely on Roanoke Island and there couldn't be a better setting for a ghost story.  Gwenda Bond does an impeccable job of creating an atmosphere of terror and really makes great use of her setting.  Roanoke is both a famous tourist destination and a slow-moving small town.  Therefore everyone is sort of tied together.  When 114 modern day citizens disappear into thin air the town is whipped up into a panic and a mass exodus begins, leaving just the permanent citizens of Roanoke to deal with the mystery.  The reader can feel the isolation and this only adds to the creep-factor.  I also just love that it takes place on Roanoke and tries to tie the events of the original disappearance to the modern day.

Multiple stories:  The book revolves around multiple plotlines and multiple characters.  Sometimes the book focuses on Miranda, other times on Phillips (the police chief's wayward son) and there are even portions that focus on the people who vanished.  This makes for a much more interesting story and moves the plot along.

No insta-love! : Like most YA books, there is romance in this story.  However, it doesn't take center stage and it is a friendship that develops into romance during a traumatic event and then has to be slowed down and re-evaluated at the end of the book.  It's less "happily ever after" and more "maybe we should give this a shot".

Pop culture nerd references: Any book that repeatedly references Joss Whedon and Vampire Diaries is fine with me!


I got sooooo confused:  okay so it is entirely possible that this one is on me, but about half way through the book I was getting so lost.  The plot just got over-complex and went in a totally different direction.  It was a bit frustrating and I would have liked it if this was just a simple ghost story.  Sure add in some twists and turns but don't leave me down the street.

The resolution came way too quickly:  One minute we're fighting off mindless drones and crazy energy ribbons and then its just sort of over.  Plus the way that Miranda had to end it was super duper effed up.  I just didn't care for the ending, but again maybe that's because I wasn't 100% on how everything was working.

Overall, this was a quick read and it was really pretty fun.  I think it bodes well for Gwenda Bond's future endeavors.  I would recommend this if you are into imaginative thrillers, not so much if you are looking for an old-fashioned ghost story.


  1. Oooh, great looking book. First saw it on goodreads and I'm dying to read it now. Great review.