K. Bird's Reviews > Blackwood

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
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Nov 20, 12

Read from November 16 to 20, 2012

Miranda is the daughter of the town drunk and member of the Island of Roanoke's black sheep family- the Blackwoods. She has her job at the local theater backstage at the summerly production that reenacts the mysterious disappearance of the Roanoke English Settlers hundreds of years before.

But one morning, Miranda wakes up and her stage friends are missing...and so is her dad. Across the country, former classmate Phillips Rawling also wakes up, sure that the girl he has carried a torch for all these years is in danger.

Can Phillips help Miranda find out what happened to the missing settlers and the missing villagers today before family members are affected? Can miranda break the blackwood curse?

Blackwood's strengths lie in the fascinating theories surrounding the true story of the Roanoke disappearance. When Miranda and Phillips banter, they're teasing names (Random fact boy) and pop culture references are all kinds of fun. The mystery and villain (s) of the story tug you along all curiosity with Bond dropping just the right amount of hints here and there that even a well-read reader might not figure it out until Miranda does. All kinds of lovely hijinks with voices and strange weapons and sewing of grey cloaks and hidden trapdoors ensue.

For me, the story didn't reach the last star for a whole-hearted 5 on the basis of the characters. Phillips' feelings for Miranda were so straightforward and deep from the get-go even after all those years apart that the frisson of new love blossoming was drowned in my shock at his willingess to fool beloved parents, steal cars, breaking-and-entering and all that for her right at the start. The parents also were just a bit too convenient. It's especially hard to believe the way Phillips' father ran interference with the FBI as well as a particular course Phillips' mother takes in the latter part of the book. I just couldn't swallow my disbelief, which was a shame because until those points, I felt Bond had done a very good job with the tricky task of making YA main character parents real characters you sympathize with as well as providing believable distance between parent and child so the hijinks can ensue.

If you're looking for a bit of magic and some realistic historical information in your YA fantasy, this is a good one to pick up. As the gore and romance level is truly YA, I wouldn't blink at my 5th grader reading it from our shared Kindle.

This Book's Snack Rating: Sour Cream and Onion Lay's for the lovely Roanoke small-island/history flavor on serviceable plot and YA characters.
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