The Blackhope Enigma, by Teresa Flavin;
Templar Publishing: United Kingdom, 2011;
What? When? Why? These were the thoughts running through my head as I flipped through The Blackhope Enigma. Written by Teresa Flavin, this novel is a perfect example of when reality and fantasy clash and the result is beautiful.
What is an enigma? An enigma is something that is puzzling or mystifying that just cannot be explained in any logical way. The title was perfect since enigmas play such a pivotal role in the book. How did Sunni’s brother disappear into the painting? Why have skeletons appeared throughout the centuries only in the Mariner’s chamber of Blackhope Tower, the same room that her brother vanished in? And who is the suspicious stranger who claims that he wants to help her?
My favorite part of this book is the fact that the characters are relatable. Sunni Forest is no child of a prophecy or royal princess. Instead, she is simply a regular thirteen-year-old girl who likes to draw. When she and Blaise see her pesky little brother disappear into a painting, she reacts the way any regular thirteen-year-old would react: with fear and wonder. I have found that having a relatable character is what drives a story forward and makes the reader want more, and Teresa Flavin is a master of this.
I have never had much of an interest in painting, partly because I am horrible at it, but this book revealed a different side of art that interested me: the centuries of slightly insane artists and their eccentric life stories. It has made me think further than a painting when I see one and more towards who painted it.
The story is set in Blackhope Tower, a centuries-old manor in Scotland. Unlike some readers, I’ve been to Scotland before, and after visiting Holyrood Palace I could vividly imagine the mist and mystery surrounding Blackhope Tower. I think the setting enhanced the story because castles are often associated with inexplicable mysteries and strange events. Certainly, Blackhope Tower is no stranger to odd events. From the underground labyrinth to the ancient skeletons that appeared every few centuries, this castle might even be the strangest of all castles.
Be warned, just because I enjoyed this book doesn’t mean that I am without complaints. The antagonist, Angus Bellini, felt rather cliched and underdeveloped, as if the author hadn’t taken the time to plot him out fully. I personally prefer stories in which the villains have motives other than being bent on one certain thing. Angus has only one goal: finding Corvio’s lost paintings and selling them for money.
Overall though, I truly love this book. It has many of the key elements that I want in a book: mystery, intriguing and realistic characters, an interesting plot, as well as the thread of fantasy running through it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys creative characters and unexpected plot twists in fantasy books. I certainly do. That’s why I am going to pick up the second book in the series right away.