When bookish Hoyle Marchand seeks treasure in Australia’s outback, he expects things to go the way they do in adventure novels. He keeps being very, very wrong.
The sedentary and impractical Hoyle meets Sybil Alvaro in a used bookstore, and she invites him to follow in the footsteps of her favourite author in a search for the mysterious Bloodwood Staff. He’s spent his entire life reading vintage adventure action, and thinks he knows how these things should go.
In the mountains west of Sydney, his expectations are almost immediately derailed, as nobody – not Sybil, and certainly not the irrepressible Ada Drake, stand-in for the obligatory plucky urchin – behaves the way they’re supposed to.
As they gradually realise that their lighthearted adventure has put themselves and their loved ones in dire peril, Hoyle is forced to face the fact that he is woefully unsuited to be the stereotypical hero.
A deliberate subversion of adventure, fantasy and satire tropes, After the Bloodwood Staff is a brilliant and unexpected ride.
Laura E. Goodin is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, old-fashioned adventure, humour, plays, libretti, poetry, and (very occasionally) nonfiction. Her work has been published and/or performed on three continents, and plenty more projects are in the works.
Laura is interested not only in the wondrous and sublime that form the core of speculative fiction, but in how music, drama, and other performance arts can incorporate a bit of surreality, unreality, and hyperreality. Encountering strangeness and wonder in unexpected places and unexpected ways is what she finds most intriguing and exciting about being a writer.
After the Bloodwood Staff is available from 10 December.