Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Blackwood

Blackwood - Gwenda Bond Also appears on my blog, The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via NetGalley.Roanoke is one of the most fascinating mysteries in the history of North America. Over a hundred colonists go missing, leaving behind little more than "Croatoan" carved in a wooden post, and are never found again. Historical mysteries like this one fascinated me as a little girl, but so little was known about it and I was so little that I soon gave up on it. Bond's take on the secrets of the Lost Colony's disappearance is grabbing, though it could have used a little more development.From beginning to end, Blackwood won't let the reader go. The opening pages dangle a little bit of bait for us, but it gets pulled away every time we get close. Not only does it get further away, but it gets more and more appetizing, and we keep following it until we reach the end of the line and finally get the gratification we've been seeking the entire time. That is the story of this book. The hints of alchemy and its role in the mysterious disappearances of Roanoke citizens in the present time, mirroring the mystery that made the island so infamous, kept me reading and thinking about it even when I wasn't reading.The pacing may be fantastic, but I feel Miranda and Phillips's blooming relationship suffered because the story flew by so quickly. Blackwood takes place over a couple of days. They vaguely knew each other when they were children thanks to an incident where younger Phillips called Miranda a freak in front of the entire town, setting the stage for her to be ostracized by the rest of the town, but otherwise have no connection before the book stars. She gets over what was apparently an important moment in her life easily and the two are head over heels for one another before the first day is over. They moved too far too fast for what felt like the sake of the plot and it threw me out of the story.The writing was largely serviceable and often perfect for a certain scene, but it sometimes bordered on ridiculous. Talk of hands remembering how to open doors and feet knowing how to be clever as if those body parts had their own brains made me roll my eyes. Miranda treating Phillips giving her bacon like it was a confession of love at one point made me roll my eyes again.Back to the better points of the book. Few young adult authors have made attempts at writing about Roanoke and alchemy isn't a subject I've run across very often either. Her take on the colonists of Roanoke being alchemists searching for the secret to eternal life had me intrigued and I enjoyed the chance to read something outside the usual circle of plots and powers. I wish it could have been a little more fully explained, though. How little is known for sure about the colonists and the fictional nature of the novel gave it so much room to create an even deeper story of the colonists, but I know little more about these fictional ones than I do the real ones.I wish Blackwood could have been a more solid novel, but Bond is an author I want to keep an eye on. I see promise in her and I'm all in for any more young adult novels she may choose to write.