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Blackwood (Strange Chemistry) Paperback – September 4, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Paperback, September 4, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Behind the Scenes with Author Gwenda Bond

The Lost Colony of Roanoke—even having written a novel inspired by this piece of history, which happened hundreds of years ago, typing the words still gives me a shiver. And why not? It's shivery stuff. In the 1580s, Sir Walter Raleigh got Queen Elizabeth I's permission to found a permanent colony in the New World. After an initial failed attempt, more than 100 men, women, and children signed on to a 1587 voyage—only to find themselves in dire conditions before long. Their leader, Governor John White, was sent back to England for help. He returned three years later to find no trace of the colonists, save the legendary CROATOAN carved into the bark of a tree.

There are few stories in American history that hold more allure than this one. So it's no wonder that it's a mystery people are still trying to definitively solve. In fact, just this year a new potential clue was found embedded in one of White's painted maps. And I wanted to solve the mystery, too. As I did research, I came across the name John Dee, a famed alchemist and advisor to the Queen, who it turns out was involved in planning the colonists' voyage… My story clicked into place. But my solution didn't involve going into the past. Instead I decided to bring the past to us. In Blackwood, when a mass disappearance occurs on modern day Roanoke Island it turns out two very smart—and very modern—17-year-olds are tied to the original mystery, and that they're the only ones who can uncover the truth, at last.


"What delighted me about Blackwood was not only that it’s about the Lost Colony, but also that it’s a supernatural approach to the disappearance...A Favorite Book Read in 2012." - Lizzy Burns, SchoolLibraryJournal.com

"This haunting, romantic mystery intrigues, chills, and captivates."
-New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith
"With whip-smart, instantly likable characters and a gothic small-town setting, Bond weaves a dark and gorgeous tapestry from America's oldest mystery."
- Scott Westerfeld, New York Times bestselling author of the Leviathan series
"A deft and clever debut!  Bond takes some reliably great elements -- a family curse, the mark of Cain, the old and endlessly fascinating mystery of the Roanoke Colony -- and makes them into something delightfully, surprisingly new. How does she do that? I suspect witchcraft."
- Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
"Weird, wise and witty, Blackwood is great fun."
- Marcus Sedgwick (shortlisted on 4 occasions for the Carnegie Medal, shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Award and won the Booktrust Teen Award)
"Miranda Blackwood's battle against her own history is utterly modern -- and utterly marvelous. She's truly a heroine all readers can rally behind."
- Micol Ostow, author of family and So Punk Rock

"Blackwood is an excellent choice for anyone looking for paranormal YA, mystery, or just something a little bit different. Unlike a number of other recent YA titles, the romantic elements are fairly low-key. I think this makes Blackwood particularly boy-friendly, and also a good crossover title for adult readers."
Jen Robinson's Book Page

"It's definitely a wistful sort of novel about being different and dealing with scary stuff like losing your family and falling in love, as much as it is about ancient evils and terrible curses and supernatural menaces. It's nice to see a gentler, more personal sort of coming-of-age-and-battling evil novel, although of course Blackwood does deliver the required showdown with the forces of evil with the fate of the world at stake."
- Charlie Jane Anders, io9.com

"This book was an excellent mystery, full of romance, ghosts, ancient curses, historical figures, betrayal, and so much more."
- Delaney (age 12), Sacramento Book Review

"There’s quality writing here and Bond has some amazingly original idea. For fans of history, the supernatural, romance, pop culture references, and alternating POVs."
- Gillyb, Writer of Wrongs

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Product Details

  • Series: Strange Chemistry (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Strange Chemistry (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908844078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908844071
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Haddayr COPLEYWOODS on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
ABSOLUTELY loved it. A really good, solid, deeply enjoyable read. Such a beautiful sense of place and of ghosts and the ship was creepy as hell. The romance and the troubled lives of the kids all was rendered so perfectly.

I felt like I was ON Roanoke Island. I found myself really liking the main characters so much as people, and believing in their parents as real if flawed people.

I liked the wonderful old family traditions in it, which turn out to be magical, and the weird physical reactions to leaving a
place. I felt like so much of it could be read as a metaphor if you wanted to but also as literal magic, which I think sometimes is what
makes books ring out the most for me.

I loved the amazing gun that really transformed. It was just a really interesting device. And the language everyone used, and the cops vs. feds, and the delightful car Pineapple, and Sidekick!

I loved the way Bond packed really complex family, town, history, magical, and character dynamics into a very tightly-told story. I
loved how allegiances seemed to shift even though they didn't, really, and how deeply scary and creepy it was, but also so matter-of-fact.

Wonderful ghost story. Wonderful family saga. Interesting mystery. This is not a light, easy read (although I tore through it very quickly). This is a thoughtful chewy story and I am so glad I read it.
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Format: Paperback
The mystery of Roanoke, VA, has always intrigued me, so when I saw this paired with a fantasy aspect, I bought the book. The main character Miranda is descended from the Blackwood family, who is cursed to stay on the island (they literally can't leave it). In the story 114 people disappear, and Miranda's father is murdered. When he dies, Miranda inherits the curse, which includes a snake that's on her face. She and her boyfriend Phillips have to battle against charges from the FBI that they murdered Miranda's father, and worse, a man from the past who is trying to bring himself back to life.

I was disappointed with the book, though because it didn't seem to know what it wanted to be. Mystery? Alien abduction? Fantasy? These elements pulled it in different directions. The result was that the middle of the book was essentially Melinda and Phillips of various stages of running away from everyone with little else happening. I'm an action reader, and there was action, and I was bored! Instead, everything got compressed into the ending of the story, and it left me without any time to really enjoy the intriguing history that was being developed.
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Format: Paperback
Blackwood by Gwenda Bond is about the lost colony of Roanoke and what happens when present day inhabitants of the island go missing. It's told in the alternating perspectives of Miranda Blackwood, youngest member of the cursed Blackwood family, and Phillips Rawling, the police chief's son who has a dark secret of his own. With a storyline jam packed full of history's mysteries, fans of suspense are sure to enjoy Blackwood.

I enjoyed reading Blackwood. I found the writing to be reminiscent of L.J. Smith's books. Which is funny, because there is a lot of talk in Blackwood about The Vampire Diaries. Though it's the show, not the books, they're speaking of. It did make me giggle, though. In fact, there were quite a few pop culture references throughout Blackwood. Usually, that sort of thing is hit or miss for me. Sometimes too many references to movies or tv shows can kill the story for me. But in Blackwood, it just works. I found it really helped me connect with the characters.

Miranda is a tough heroine. She's faced with this title of traitor, thinks she's destined to help the evil trying to take over Roanoke Island, but she never once stops fighting. Phillips is a great character. I fell in love with him from the very first second he shows up in the novel, climbing back into his dorm room window after pulling a prank on the principal of his boarding school. Miranda calls him her hero, but the truth is they are equals in their quest to save their home. I really enjoyed reading about both of their characters. Also, I adored Miranda's dog Sidekick. He's so cute!

Blackwood is a fantastic paranormal thriller that reminded me of the show The 4400 at times. It's suspenseful and will keep you mystified until the very end. I'd recommend it to fans of paranormal romance or anyone interested in reading one author's explanation of the unexplained occurrences that took place on Roanoke Island over four hundred years ago.
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Format: Paperback
Blackwood is a hauntingly mysterious read that gave me chills from the moment I began reading. Gwenda Bond's debut novel captured my interest as soon as I recognized the blast into history that fuels Blackwood's plot. I have to mention how much I adore the cover because it's always a plus when a book's cover allows me to know the story before I've even started reading the story.

The characters of Blackwood are so likable that I couldn't help try to solve the mystery with them as they uncovered the tragedy befalling their small town. Miranda Blackwood, Battle Star Galactica and frequent 'frak' fan, was so alone in her pain and need to leave the town she's doomed to reside. Phillips Rawling was no better off, taking on the bad boy role to escape the whispers he inherited. Together, Phillips and Miranda were unstoppable. I loved seeing how they reacted and responded to each other. It was almost as if they forged a bond that kept them sane through all the madness they experienced. Both characters were more than what they appeared to be and diving deeper into the story proves so.

Blackwood's tone is dark and eerie despite the occasional bouts of laughter Phillips and Miranda conspired from me. I didn't expect much of what happens in the story and it took some time for me to twist and wrap my brain around some of the events. The Lost Colony legend is not one I've heard much about before and I love how Bond infuses it into a contemporary setting. Blackwood has pretty much shaken what my idea of a supernatural mystery is and I'm anticipating the next novel from Gwenda Bond.

*eGalley provided for review through Netgalley*
Originally posted on Lovey Dovey Books
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