Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
Strange Chemistry, 2012.
(Age: 14+) Set on Roanoke Island, Virginia, a place where 114 people had mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony, Blackwood is a novel that cleverly combines history with fantasy to come up with a theory about how the people had disappeared. With the sudden disappearance of 114 people now in modern times, Miranda, a strange girl who doesn't fit in on the island, and Phillips, a teen who has been exiled from the island, are on a quest to find out what has happened to them.
I really enjoyed the combination of history and fantasy. When I discovered that the original disappearance of 114 from Roanoke Island had actually happened I did a search on the web to get the background to the story. John Dee too is a fascinating historical figure who is important to the story. One of the devices the author used was the reenactment of the disappearance in a play and when I discovered that there was actually a play performed today, it made it all the more interesting.
The character of Miranda, a girl who is a lonely misfit is central to the story. Her background of coming from the wrong family, having an alcoholic father and not being part of the in group is one that will interest teens. They will identify too with Phillips, son of the Police Chief. He has left the island so that the secret of his hearing the voices of the dead will be kept. This combination of real life themes that teens face with the supernatural make it a fascinating read.
The growing romance between Miranda and Phillips, their courage in face of the evil of John Dee and the suspense that the author builds up will keep teens reading this clever, chilling story.