Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond (4 stars)

I'm a little ticked off. I finally read a Strange Chemistry title I loved...and the imprint closed down. Yep. On the bright side, I have Gwenda Bond's other Strange Chemistry novel, The Woken Gods, waiting in my TBR pile. I'm pretty excited about it after reading Blackwood, which is a fun, standalone mystery with a hint of paranormal/fantasy. But really, you only need to know one thing: Roanoke.

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on September 4, 2012
Published by Strange Chemistry
Final Rating: 4 stars

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.

What I liked:
  • I like the two main characters, Miranda and Phillips. There is a romance element, and it threatens insta-love; but I think their relationship reads more like a developing crush. More importantly, the romance is secondary to a crazy, magical mystery that may or may not kill them.
  • I like the adults. (I know. Adults? In a YA book? What trickery is this?!) Phillips' mom, in particular, is hilarious. And evil. >.>
  • Blackwood isn't a thriller, but it keeps a steady application of tension as the mystery slowly builds with tiny hints throughout.
  • The villain(s) are creepy. :)
  • Miranda has a goofy golden retriever named Sidekick, and he is awesome. Yes, I am biased because I have a Golden Retriever.
  • The geeky TV references. I know they may already be outdated, but I got them all, and I think there was enough context that anyone can figure them out and appreciate them being geeky. :)
  • The story weaves in paranormal/magical elements without leaving the real world behind, if you know what I mean. It's a contemporary mystery with fantasy elements. Not a hidden underworld that occasionally moonlights in the real world.
  • It's Roanoke. It's a mystery about Roanoke. It's a mystery about Roanoke that ties in with the mystery of the disappearance of its first settlers. Yes! 'Nough said.

What I didn't like:
  • The pacing kind of plateaus for a bit right before the climax, though the tension sticks well enough.
  • I can see some readers feeling the characters didn't solve the mystery fast enough, but I liked the characters and story well enough to ignore that and enjoy the ride.

Final Thoughts:
Blackwood features a Golden Retriever, a romance that didn't have me cringing, and it's about ROANOKE. If that doesn't convince you...weird. And by weird, I mean you may or may not enjoy the book the way I did. ;)


  1. I was disappointed over StrangeChem closing down too. They had a history of releasing YA novels that I would enjoy almost every single time, and I can be pretty picky about the YA that I read. It's a shame to see them go when they had such a great track record.

    Blackwood was a pretty good novel. I liked it, anyway. I enjoyed The Woken Gods even more, though! Hope you like that one, too!

    1. Even when I didn't love the writing, the ideas behind Strange Chen's titles always grabbed me. It's a shame to see them go.

      Ooh, now I'm really looking forward to Woken Gods!

  2. Sweet I am going to have to pick this one up then. I didn't know she wrote this and The Woken Gods (which I read when it came out)

    1. Yep! At least, her author page on Goodreads lists both titles. I have pretty high hopes for The Woken Gods now, which I really hope doesn't crash and burn.