HomeAuthor ShowcaseThe Staircase Of Fire, by Ben Woodard | Dedicated Review

The Staircase Of Fire, by Ben Woodard | Dedicated Review

Review sponsored by Ben Woodard
The Children’s Book Review | April 17, 2018

The Staircase Of Fire

Written by Ben Woodard

Age Range: 14+

Paperback: 266 Pages

Publisher: Miller-Martin Press

ISBN: 978-0997344882

What to expect: Racism, Orphan, Loss, Poetry, and Adult Topics

The Staircase of Fire is a riveting and intense tale about a 14-year old boy named Tom, who is haunted by his past and is struggling with decisions that threaten his future. The story is set in small town Kentucky in the 1920s – at a time when race relations were volatile and the Klu Klux Klan was active in the South. In Tom’s small town, racial tensions are high, and he witnesses a terrible incident that then impacts his role in Shakertown, which is where he lives.

Tom is an orphan and struggles to navigate the demons of his past – his father’s death, his mother’s illness, and his sister’s accident all haunt him every day in his choices and every night in his sleep. As he comes of age, he desperately tries to find ways to escape from his pain, but also forms such strong connections with those in his life and community that he cannot become invisible, but instead becomes a figure that Shakertown never expected.

Ben Woodard paints a detailed picture of the conflicted time in which Tom lived. As a character, Tom is relatable, complicated, and the kind of hero that readers will cheer for, but also one that readers may view as beautifully flawed. He wants so much to not feel anything, but yet keeps chasing the rush of experiences that make him feel and live life in the deepest of ways.

The book depicts Tom chasing away his past, obsessing about his present, and looking forward to his future. Beautiful poetry is sprinkled throughout the book, representing the core of Tom’s struggles as he is faced with tough decisions:


To fly,

To soar.

Any time.


Without fear,

Without despair.


Meant freedom. “

This book would be well suited for the mature teen reader or young adult who understands the context of racial tensions, early American history, and the South. The book is a gripping read that will attract older teens who are able to contextualize the detailed descriptions of violence, adult topics and language, and small-town conflict that was indicative of the era. Adults will also find this to be a thrilling read, as Tom finds a way to reconcile his past, his present and his future.

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About the Author

Ben Woodward

Ben Woodward

Ben is a (mostly) retired amateur adventurer who has traveled across Tibet, climbed to 18,000 feet on Mt. Everest, and solo backpacked wilderness areas. Now his adventures come in the form of imagining stories, writing them, and telling them to kids and teens.

He works with teachers, schools and literacy organizations spreading the word that books are vital—and fun.

http://www.BooksByBen.com | http://www.miller-martin.com | GoodReads

Review written by Leah Sylvan. Dedicated Reviews allow authors and illustrators to gain prompt visibility for their work. Ben Woodard sponsored this non-biased review of  “The Staircase Of Fire.” Learn more about getting a book review …

Leah Sylvan is a former analytical and deadline-driven IT project manager who is working on tapping into her creative side. She loves to read, eat delicious food, run, listen to music, and enjoy all things that relate to to her two beautiful daughters. (Except the gross stuff - her husband gets to handle the gross stuff.) Her favorite childhood books as a young kid were Shaggy Dogs and Spotty Dogs, ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, and The Cat in The Hat. As a big kid ... Nancy Drew books... ALL of them! She wishes she could travel to more distant places in the world, but also yearns to stay local and set foot in every corner of her beautiful home state of Colorado.

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