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Strange Alchemy Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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Bond unearths America s oldest mystery to breathe new, enchanting life into it, and sends readers on a twisting, genre-defying thrill ride. --Booklist
History, mystery, and the paranormal combine to create a contemporary tale of adolescent angst and romance. Bond manages the historical aspects of the story nimbly. --School Library Journal
Bond weaves a dark and gorgeous tapestry from America s oldest mystery. --Scott Westerfeld
About the Author
Gwenda Bond is the author of the young adult novels Girl on a Wire, Blackwood, and The Woken Gods. She has also written for Publishers Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications, and just might have been inspired to get a journalism degree by her childhood love of Lois Lane. She has an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie. Visit her online at gwendabond.com or @gwenda on Twitter.
Top customer reviews
I’ll say this for it: this book is certainly different from the usual YAs I’ve read. I liked that it included paranormal elements without falling into the cliches I see in a lot of urban fantasies. The lost colony of Roanoke is a part of history that I never learned a lot about beyond mentions in history class but I found myself looking more into it after starting this book. This brings the legend into the modern day with another population disappearing, curses, and all sorts of mystery abounding.
The writing wasn’t as clean as the other books I’ve read by her but the story was fairly interesting. Though I’m not big on thrillers and I wouldn’t necessarily classify this book as such, there was a feel to it that gave me horror movie vibes at times as the tension continued to build. And then… I’m not sure what happened. The pace slowed as details were flung out left and right, breaking down a lot of that previous tension and causing me to lose interest.
There were also a few questions I had throughout the story that were never really addressed and that took away from the experience. I really am not a fan of stories that leave me with too many questions and not enough answers (side-eyes the ReMade serial…).
Miranda and Grant were alright protagonists. Miranda’s tough (and cursed) while Grant as some interesting abilities, but neither jumped off the page for me. I felt like they served more for the plot’s purpose, that it was the primary driver, than the characters. Which is fine. I tend to find I enjoy character-driven stories more, personally, and didn’t really feel much for either of these two, but it wasn’t badly done. Though the little romance subplot wasn’t working for me.
Strange Alchemy had a little bit of everything in it and I both liked and disliked that. There’s a decent amount going on and, at times, I had to backtrack because I thought I missed something (and sometimes there was nothing to miss and the plot just lacked the details to support a particular point).
If you don’t mind having a few questions at the end of a novel, and enjoy an interesting take on a historical mystery brought into a new light, then I’d recommend Strange Alchemy to you. It was missing a few things for me but was, overall, an interesting read.
Roanoke Island, the legend of the Lost Colony—and the 114 colonists who vanished without a trace more than four hundred years ago — still haunts the town. But that’s just a story told for the tourists. When 114 people suddenly disappear from the island in present day, it seems history is repeating itself—and an unlikely pair of seventeen-year-olds might be the only hope of bringing the missing back. Miranda Blackwood, a member of one of island’s most infamous families, and Grant Rawling, the sheriff’s son, who has demons and secrets of his own, find themselves at the center of the mystery. As the unlikely pair works to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony, they must dodge everyone from the authorities to long-dead alchemists as they race against time to save their family and friends before they too are gone for good.
If you spend much time in an American history class at some point you are bound to hear the tale of Roanoke and its lost colony.
Gwenda Bond took that historical fable or real life mystery depending on your point of view and turned it into one of the most original and thrilling stories in the YA genre I’ve read in quite some time. To give you some perspective I’ve read nearly 200 books in 2017 thanks to a darling genetic quirk that enhances my reading comprehension and speed and I am seriously NOT KIDDING when I say if you want to see what originality and talent combined can create then check out this book.
She has created a well written and seemingly well researched plot, as accurate as you can get considering the complete lack of reliable information that has been found thus far. The lack of verifiable truth plays in Bond’s favor as she has free reign to use fantasy and the supernatural to fill in the holes with a masterful twist.
Her dialogue sounds decent although it does have its “nonsensical” moments but when it comes to the YA genre that little flaw seems to be a requirement and she does still make it work for the characters personalities.
I think readers will enjoy the main characters of Miranda and Grant thanks to Bond’s ability to create characters you can attach to and become interested in enough that you want to see how their story plays out plus she has a great mystery element that will pique your curiosity.