Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Staircase of Fire by Ben Woodard

When Ben Woodard asked me if I wanted to review The Staircase of Fire, I said yes because I enjoyed his first book in this series, A Stairway to Danger. It's been some time, so I don't really remember what happened in A Stairway to Danger, but The Staircase of Fire read well as a standalone novel.

The Staircase of Fire starts when Rose, an African American lady, insists on her right to vote. In the extremely racist town of Shakertown, this is something that cannot be stood for and Rose and her son, James, decide to leave. But on their way out, things go very wrong and everything is witnessed by Tom, who's still dealing with the guilt from his sisters' death. Scared to say a word, Tom resolves to find the Shake gold and leave this town for good.

While the start of the novel feels like a mystery, this is really more of a bildungsroman. Yes, Tom does hunt down clues to find the gold but this story is really about Tom coming to grips with his past and with the society he lives in. It's about him growing up and deciding what kind of man he wants to be. The search for the gold is a small part of the book compared to Tom's journey.

Like I mentioned before, Tom grows a lot in this book and I really enjoyed reading his journey. It seems like almost every white character is racist in some way (which is historically accurate) and it was refreshing to see Tom learn to break out of the narrow-minded thinking that he had and which surrounds him.

Just a note of warning: apart from some violence, there is mention of sex and sexual assault in the book. It's nothing explicit, but if you're sensitive or if you want to give this to a younger kid to read, you might want to keep it in mind.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. This sounds like a great eye-opening book. I like seeing a character grow over the course of a book like this. It makes it all the more poignant and real.


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