Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Me on Blackwood
Author: Gwenda Bond
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot imprint)
On Roanoke Island, the legend of 114 people who mysteriously vanished hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 of its residents, an unlikely pair may be the only hope of bringing them back. Miranda is a misfit daughter of the island's most infamous family, while Phillips is the exiled teenage criminal who hears the voices of the dead. Together, they have to dodge everyone, from cops to federal agents to long-dead alchemists, as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony.
Blackwood is a paranormal mystery mixed with the author drawing on a real-life event in history, a unique premise that leaves the story feeling isolated and dangerous. I haven't come across a novel that uses the Roanoke story and its missing villagers since the Blue Bloods series, which isn't necessarily surprising because it seems to me to be a lesser known moment in American history. Still, the way the author used the story, twisted it into something dark and mysterious and pulled it into the present day was interesting. As a whole, the novel is a weird novel, and I think that it being weird will help it stand out.
Miranda certainly is a teenage girl loaded with the standard teenage angst and feelings directed at everything around her. She comes across as rather negative, but she's trapped by circumstance after her mother's death and her father's continuing alcoholism. Phillips isn't as much of a downer but he's just as trapped, trapped by his sheriff father, trapped by the voices of the dead that he can hear. Both of them haven't lead perfect lives, far from it, and because of that their relationship is rocky and complicated at best. It's not instant love, which often doesn't come across as realistic, but instead is more like instant thrown together because of circumstances and quirks of fate and therefore stuck together. Both of their voices were great, the two of them sounding like witty, jaded teenagers who'd been beaten down and were still trying, Miranda slightly more than Phillips (his seemingly normal family makes his life slightly easier).
The included back story on Roanoke, the twist on the legends, the alchemists, those are what made the book interesting, but I did hope for some more back story beyond the preface.
And something else was missing from the novel, whether it be more explanations and realizations, or if there needed to be some more tension. Even with the quick pace, there were times when I was bored. Perhaps it was the prose, the author's writing, since the first few pages read more like a summary of the book than the book itself.
Even though I wanted more, wanted the author to dig a little deeper, the paranormal twists and Miranda and Phillips are what kept me reading until the end. I wanted to know how it ended, so in that was I was invested in the book. Without those three things, it's possible I wouldn't have finished it, but without those three things it wouldn't have been the same book.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Angry Robot through NetGalley.)