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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
In Laura E. Goodin's adventure novel After the Bloodwood Staff, a fictitious novel of the same title becomes the basis of an adventure. Sybil Alvaro believes the novel After the Bloodwood Staff, written by her favorite author C. G. Ingraham, is not entirely fiction. Hoyle Marchand, who loves to read adventure stories, agrees to go with Sybil in search of the mysterious Bloodwood Staff in the mountains west of Sydney, Australia. Ada is a spunky and street-smart young woman who befriends the two Americans in Sydney and joins them in their trek into the mountains. The story's pace, action, and tension ratchet up when it appears that someone else is also searching for the Bloodwood Staff. Why should a reddish wooden staff with a carved, leaf-like blade - that may not even exist - exert such a strong attraction?
I thoroughly enjoyed Laura E. Goodin's After the Bloodwood Staff for its strong characters and rich imagination. I loved the way Goodin interweaves the search by Sybil and Hoyle with Ingraham's novel, its clues, and hints of the location of the Bloodwood Staff. I loved the twisting turns in the story, the layers of past and present. I was pulled into the story as the adventure spirals into a terrifying mystery, fraught with danger. I liked the realistic way in which Sybil, Hoyle, and Ada deal with grim and perilous circumstances so unlike any other experiences in their lives. The characters react with humor, irony, fear, anger, and courage, and their inner journeys evolve along with their outward quest. A well-crafted tale of adventure and mystery with a fantastical web of tangled storylines!