Blackwood, by Gwenda Bond
The Roanoke Colony’s fate, whether lost, moved to the wilds of America, or victims of something not-yet-understood, is one of American history’s most enduring mysteries. Gwenda Bond has taken the story and woven it into a modern day tale of a young girl growing up in a small town, a small town and a growing up complicated by her family’s history and the history of the island she calls home.
Blackwood begins with bang, or at least a bump-in-the-night, when Miranda Blackwood, current outcast in teenage society and intern to the local theatre group, sees a phantom ship sailing towards her town:
Strange gray symbols bloomed on each of three billowing black sails, the shapes a mix of straight lines and arcs, a half-moon curving above a circle at the top. The sailcloth rippled in a wind that she didn’t feel on her skin.
The ship is just the beginning of Miranda’s trouble, and soon she is in danger from all sides, and her family’s history with Roanoke Island, with betrayal, comes to haunt her every step. Miranda is not alone, though, Phillips Rawling is being drawn back to the island, back to a place where his every waking moment was filled with the murmuring voices of people from the past, voices that only quieted when he fled far enough away to deny the island’s hold on his future.
Phillips is drawn back to Roanoke after 114 of the island’s inhabitants go missing in a single event, disappearing out of beds, cars, shops, and the lives of everyone left behind. At first, Miranda is just one of the many people missing family, just another girl whose dad has disappeared. But soon it becomes apparent that her family’s long and complicated past on the island is drawing her even closer to whatever haunts the island and its history. She and Phillips team up, but they have a complex history as well, and there are no guarantees that life will ever return to normal.
Bond has done a top-notch job of creating a world filled with characters that keep her readers entranced as they turn the pages. Miranda and Phillips are just the right combination of quirky teenager and brave hero to make rooting for their success incredibly satisfying, and the central mystery keeps its secrets right to the end.
The strawberry-colored snake crawled along the top of her cheek toward her temple. Unmistakable. A birthmark, but not hers. Her father’s.
No one heard Miranda’s scream.
Blackwood blends the supernatural, the mysterious, and the everyday stress of being a teenager into a satisfying, and incredibly fun, story. What did happen to the Lost Colony? And will Miranda survive the truth?