On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists. 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.
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Customer Reviews for Blackwood
Review 1 for Blackwood
Jane Sharp at Watford
10 July 2012
Gwenda Bond’s debut novel is an absolute winner. Using the real-life mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke is a great idea; it adds an extra frisson to an already exciting and fast-paced story. History, the supernatural and romance all combine to produce an exhilarating story.
English colonists first settled in Roanoke back in the 1580s. After a failed first attempt, the party led by John White in 1587 did establish themselves. They were short of all supplies, and in a desperate bid for the colony’s survival White returned to England to get help. It was three years before he was able to make it back to Roanoke, and when he did no trace of the settlers remained. Except for one very odd thing, the word Croatoan was carved into an oak tree. Many explanations have been suggested for the disappearance of the men, women and children. Perhaps they moved to another nearby but isolated spot, maybe they assimilated with local native people, maybe they were eaten or struck down with a deadly zombie disease (any Supernatural fans out there?) The truth may never be known.
Bond uses the uncertainty as the starting point for her excellent story. The community now living on Roanoke Island commemorate their long-lost pioneers by staging a play about them every year at the height of the tourist season. Miranda Blackwood loves working backstage at the theatre; it gives her a break from being the town freak. Her mum is dead, and her dad is a stumbling alcoholic. They live together on the wrong side of town, a remote and cheap neighbourhood that is a lost colony all of its own. Being a Blackwood is also, in itself, a curse. The family is not normal, bad luck follows it around. Miranda feels trapped by this reputation and by the island itself. At least she has her dog, Sidekick, for comfort, and the play.
Well, perhaps not the play because a great big ghostly ship looks set to wreck that too. Although only Miranda notices it. The rest of the town realise something is very wrong when they wake up the next morning to find more than one hundred people missing. Amongst them is Miranda’s father. She acquires an unlikely ally in Phillips Rawling, the boy who inadvertently confirmed her position as school outcast. He’s not exactly normal either, hearing the voices of the dead of Roanoke. Together they try to unravel the increasingly weird stuff happening on the island. Together they face the increasing danger to themselves and their loved ones.
The two main characters are awesome: brave, resourceful, determined and of course stubborn. The story hits the ground running and picks up pace from there. It is brilliant when you love the description of a book and then it turns out to be easily as good as you hoped - like this one. I’ve already read it twice, and will probably read it again!