STRANGE ALCHEMY  by Gwenda Bond

STRANGE ALCHEMY

Age Range: 13 - 16
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A revised version of the author’s first novel, Blackwood (2012).

Miranda Blackwood, the town “freak,” is cursed, along with her family, to remain on Roanoke Island (the site of the Lost Colony in North Carolina). Grant Rawling, grandson of the “legendary Witch of Roanoke Island,” was sent away to a boarding school nearly four years ago after his ability to hear the spirits of the dead emerged. Mystery develops when Miranda begins seeing a phantom ship and, like the original colonists, 114 islanders disappear. At a complete loss for clues, police chief Rawling summons his son back to Roanoke Island to help. The 17-year-olds, both evidently white given their ancestry, alternate narration. The premise of this speculative novel is intriguing: the spirit of alchemist John Dee has returned to fulfill his original plan of creating a new colony of immortals. The execution, however, is clunky, repetitive, and awkward as the teens continually scramble around the small island, trying to outwit a range of stereotyped characters from the villainous Dee to a crackpot conspiracy theorist to law enforcement agents. Except for one f-bomb (Miranda usually uses the Battlestar Galactica expletive “frak”), this story may be suited for those looking for “clean” reads with no sex or graphic violence, but that’s about all it has going for it.

Passionate mystery or speculative fiction fans should look elsewhere. (Speculative fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-63079-076-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Switch/Capstone
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2017




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