Review: Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

15 May, 2012 Reviews 28 comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Blackwood by Gwenda BondBlackwood by Gwenda Bond
Series: Standalone
Published by Strange Chemistry on September 1st 2012
Pages: 330
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. 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.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.


Well, hello there once again fellow book-wormy types!

Over the past few days I have been reading a YA Paranormal novel with a concept that intrigued me: “On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. 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.” Now is it just me, or does that sound fucking awesome?

I didn’t think it was just me. I started it actually looking forward to a ghost story in a contemporary setting playing with one of the best known mysteries in history. What happened to the Lost Colony? Unfortunately I will never find out what happened in this world, or if I do it won’t be for a fucking long time. I caved. I’m weak. I didn’t finish it. Why? Because despite the premise being astoundingly right up my alley, the writing was poor.

It was contrived, it was obvious, there was little/no foreshadowing at all and the revelations I encountered were still about as subtle as being anally invaded by a red-hot poker. I knew straight away, from the moment they appeared on the page together, that there would be a romantic thing going on between the two main characters. And then Ms Bond goes and uses the most annoying and ineffectual means of progressing the romantic sub-plot (which at around 25% switched places and became the main plot for a good chunk of the book), can you guess what it is? That’s right ladies and germs… The YA Insta-love 3000 reared its ugly fucking head.

Now our main character, one Miranda Blackwood, comes from a family with a… reputation shall we say? Was made a laughing stock by one Phillips Rawling, who is then sent away to a school for young hell raisers… except he wanted to be sent away. I’m not spoiling that for you but it’s not original. This then lead to Miranda being everyone’s favourite type of heroine… the paranoid outcast that thinks no one could ever like her. That’s right, it’s that painful. All of this, triggered by Phillips. Cue the Insta-love 3000 to eradicate all of the conflict that could be there and overcome to have a relationship, in a manner that is actually fucking believable. Who needs to build relationships when everyone and their mum knows that women don’t hold grudges… ever… *cue crickets chirping* Wrong place for that gag? Well in the words of Randall… Honey Badger don’t care!

That’s not even my biggest problem with Blackwood. My biggest problem is that the voice of the writing is so passive that if I felt any more detached from the body of the story, I’d be in a jar next to the story’s hospital bed after my successful surgical removal. What doesn’t help matters is that the narrative, which is written in third person and as such is always more of a challenge than first, flits from perspectives. With no warning or indication that it has done so. No… Look I said NO I don’t want that red-hot poker shoved back up my arse… FUCK!

Yes what I am trying to say, in my gratuitous and filthy manner, is that the flitting of the perspectives was as jarring as a car wreck. It completely kills whatever flow the previous section had built up and makes the reader, i.e. me, have to go back and re-read sections that didn’t make sense because it wasn’t clear, read: fucking known, that the POV had changed.

And do you want to know the sad thing? This wasn’t even the worst book I didn’t finish this year. And I so wanted to like it. It sounded like just my cup of tea. But as it stands… The concept is there yet the execution lets it down.

Archer, out!



Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
Archer is a scouser currently residing in Australia, yes he does realise that he is about as far from home as it is possible to get. He enjoys reading anything that can hold his attention for more than the first chapter and he doesn't really care what genre it is either. Reading has been something he has done since he was a child and it is still, in his mind, one of the best ways to kill time. Outside of reading and writing book reviews, Archer is a serious gamer and he reviews the games he plays when he gets a chance. He is also a very keen amateur photographer, an enthusiastic cook and enjoys spending time watching films and essentially trying not to stress. Find him on GoodReads.

28 Responses to “Review: Blackwood by Gwenda Bond”

  1. Meg @ The Book Galaxy

    Ugh. It really sucks that this book wasn’t good. I mean, like you said, the blurb sounded fantastic and all (can’t say much about the cover, though), but I don’t think I’ll be reading this. I hate it when the plot really has potential, but the writing just doesn’t do it justice, which is obviously the case with BLACKWOOD. :/ Oh, and the switching POVs without notice? I hate that too.

    Awesome review! Really had me laughing my butt off at some points… even though going through this book probably wasn’t a funny experience. 😛
    Meg @ The Book Galaxy recently posted…Book Review: Dark Kiss by Michelle RowenMy Profile

  2. Ellyn

    Oh dear god, headhopping without warning.

    If this was a piece of computer software, it would not only have a bug that renders it totally unusable, but it would also switch randomly between all your other applications ever. I’m amazed this book got past the editor.

    Also, Archer, I must ask a slighter stalkerish question of you… are you Tasmanian?

      • Ellyn

        @Archer: Superman N64: The Book? The same horrible controls, the same missing-the-hoops-and-having-to-backtrack-and-losing-miserably, the same urge to go out and throw cars?

        Something like that.

        Anyway, welcome to Tasmania! You probably picked the best state to move to, transition-to-new-climate-wise. 😉

  3. Lexie B.


    Really, though, that’s disappointing. That is a fucking awesome premise, but the ever-so-popular insta-love and random POV-flitting is always a mood-killer. Didn’t you know the moment a girl looks into an attractive man’s DEEP, SOULFUL EYES, she immediately forgets that he ruined her family’s life?
    Lexie B. recently posted…May 15: A Day of Victoria Schwab AwesomenessMy Profile

  4. Stephanie Sinclair

    Great review, Archer. I think it’s safe to say ill be declining to review this one. It looks like it would anger me.

  5. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Man, that’s tragic. I have this one from NetGalley, and I’ll probably try it, just because I’d feel like a jerk otherwise. Sounds like I won’t get very far, though. I hate when a good concept gets destroyed. UGH!

    *proffers ice for your bum*
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (8)My Profile

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge