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The Blackhope Enigma

Review

The Blackhope Enigma

A picture is worth a thousand words. This old saying captures the complexity and depth of famous paintings displayed throughout the world. The artists behind the paintings often have complicated histories themselves, and Fausto Corvo, the painter of The Mariner’s Return to Arcadia, is no different. Except Corvo hid his secrets within his paintings. You just have to know where to look.

Sunni Forrest has spent enough time in Blackhope Tower, the holding place of Corvo’s famous painting, to feel as though she should know everything about The Mariner’s Return to Arcadia. This hasn’t stopped her, though, from getting to know Blaise Doran, her fellow classmate and semi-rival painter. As Sunni and Blaise sat one afternoon studying the painting, they couldn’t predict that they would finally learn the truth about Corvo’s extraordinary skill. They just needed the help of Sunni’s stepbrother, Dean. Sunni and Blaise watched with wonder as Dean recited a password of sorts while he navigated a labyrinth etched on the floor in the tower --- and disappeared! When they noticed him suddenly appear in the painting, they couldn’t believe it.

Without hesitation, Sunni followed suit, and soon she and Dean found themselves walking around Corvo’s painting. Much to their chagrin, they discover that Corvo painted numerous pictures underneath the final painting, and in essence created whole new worlds from magic paint. Sunni and Dean meet a caretaker called Hugo and his servant boy Inko, and learn that these new worlds have been around for hundreds of years. As Sunni and Dean settle in, Blaise gets up the nerve to rescue them. He’s not the only one to follow, though, as a man named Angus Bellini comes soon after with a personal vendetta to find Corvo’s magical painting secret and take it for his own.

What ensues only could have been thought up by a master artist. Sunni and Dean are captured by the mysterious Marin, who accuses them of being spies. Angus tricks Blaise into trusting him as they search for Sunni and Dean. A whole new layer to the painting is discovered, one filled with dangerous mazes and treacherous seas. Even though they don’t really know what they’re doing, Sunni, Dean and Blaise simply want to find a way home. Will they make it, or will they be forced to live inside a painting forever?

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what it would be like to journey inside a photograph or painting, then this book is for you. Teresa Flavin effortlessly creates imaginative worlds that could only be captured with the stroke of a paintbrush. There’s a solid backstory to Fausto Corvo’s ability to create these magical paintings, and an ongoing mystery with a stunning conclusion. The most surprising part about this book, in my opinion, is that Flavin inspires a whole new generation to get out and see amazing works of art. There is much beauty to be appreciated in art, and I was itching to find some after reading this book. It also looks like this is just the beginning of Sunni and Blaise’s adventures.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on August 9, 2011

The Blackhope Enigma
by Teresa Flavin