Reviewed by Tori
The mystery surrounding the Roanoke Colony, also referred to as The Lost Colony, has always fascinated me. Over one hundred settlers vanished from the small settlement of Roanoke; never to be seen again. The only clue left? The word Croatoan carved into a wooden post. Where did the settlers vanish to? Did they assimilate into surrounding tribes? Were they forced to flee to Croatoan Island, now known as Hatteras Island? Or were they killed to appease the island spirits? Gwenda Bond takes all our questions concerning Roanoke Island, adds a few twists and turns of her own, and offers us her version of what may have happened.
Blackwood begins with a modern mystery when history repeats itself and 114 people disappear off Roanoke Island without a trace. Miranda Blackwood, the town outcast, is shocked when she is dragged into investigating the disappearances along with the Chief of Police’s son, Phillips. Phillips once humiliated Miranda, but the person before her is nothing like the child he once was. Miranda and Phillips soon learn that the original disappearance of the settlers was more sinister than the historians thought and the race to save the island and themselves is on.
Engaging from page one, the story centers around our two protagonists, Miranda Blackwood and Phillips. Miranda is considered a freak to the town, due to her family’s circumstances and her ability to see things that aren’t there. Phillips Rawling, also from an old established island family, left the island in order to escape his family’s gift of hearing the dead. Phillips father commands him to return to the island to “help” figure out the disappearances, yet Phillips main concern is Miranda. He knows she’s in danger and attaches himself to her in attempts to keep her safe. A small romance blooms and develops alongside the main conflict.
I liked Miranda and Phillips. Both are intelligent, realistic portrayed teens not burdened by the emo angst that sometimes overwhelms a YA storyline. I would have liked to have seen a slower pace taken with their romance though. It is thrown at us and there is nothing to back up their feelings.
The main conflict is an interesting blending of mystery and suspense as Bond slowly reveals the plot of the story. I enjoyed the historical references that were sprinkled throughout, combining the past and the present. Good pacing and solid writing helps to keep the story travelling at a steady speed, though at times I felt the story became too simple and certain issues were glossed over that would have benefitted from more exploration. Backgrounds are not fully utilized and certain characters and plot lines suffered. Character assignments were random and scene locations changed at whim. Our villain is very creepy, but more in a “stranger-danger” type of way. Another villain has a huge build up that didn’t play out well for me in the end and I was shocked at the low key way in which they are dispatched.
Regardless of any problems I had, I did find the overall storyline interesting enough to keep me reading until the very end.
Overall rating: C