Strange Alchemy – Gwenda Bond

Spoilers Ahead!

I admit it. I’m not a history buff. I first heard of the lost colony of Roanoke and the word ‘Croatoan’ while watching one of the later series of Haven, which is loosely based on Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid. I became fascinated by the mystery behind the disappearance of over 100 people. It was this fascination that led me to want to read Strange Alchemy. Before I started this novel I read some more about the history and the theories surrounding the lost colony.

I loved the first half of the book and enjoyed the alternating chapters showing Miranda and Grant’s points of view. Sometimes I find books with different points of view fragmented but felt the story flowed well from chapter to chapter. I liked both of the main characters who, for different reasons, long to be normal and not be defined by their reputations.

Almost exactly at the halfway mark the story seemed to fall apart for me. There was a lot happening to keep my attention and I still wanted to keep reading until the end but the explanations fell flat for me. I spent a lot of time questioning the characters’ choices and the series of events.

I don’t understand, if Grant hearing the voices of the spirits is supposed to be a gift, why he spends most of the book trying to push them into the background. I waited patiently for the author’s explanation of the word ‘Croatoan’ being carved on a post and it never came. I didn’t mind that some people had to die at the end but was it really necessary to hurt adorable Sidekick?

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read this book. I think young teenagers who are interested in starting to get their teeth into books that have a supernatural element will enjoy this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Gwenda Bond’s first book Blackwood has been reimagined and brought back to life with new vision. On Roanoke Island, the legend of the Lost Colony — and the 114 colonists who vanished without a trace more than four hundred years ago — still haunts the town. But that’s just a story told for the tourists.

When 114 people suddenly disappear from the island in present day, it seems history is repeating itself — and an unlikely pair of seventeen-year-olds might be the only hope of bringing the missing back. Miranda Blackwood, a member of one of island’s most infamous families, and Grant Rawling, the sherrif’s son, who has demons and secrets of his own, find themselves at the center of the mystery.

As the unlikely pair works to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony, they must dodge everyone from the authorities to long-dead alchemists as they race against time to save their family and friends before they too are gone for good.

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