BLACKWOOD by Gwenda Bond


Age Range: 13 - 18
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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)

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-908844-07-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2012


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