When Tom Mackay goes to stay at his grandfather’s house in Scotland just before his thirteenth birthday, he has no idea how suddenly his life is going to change. How could he know the old wooden staff his grandfather carries with him constantly is actually an intensely magical object, used by his family for centuries? The Mackays are in fact bound to prevent an ancient power connected to the land around them from falling into the wrong hands. Tom suddenly finds himself in a completely different time and is thrown into an adventure. He must master using the staff if he is to help to prevent an evil force from rising up and creating untold devastation.
I liked the book’s Scottish setting and enjoyed the descriptions of the beautiful landscapes and scenery. I thought the idea of a magical staff being passed down through the generations was pretty original and I loved the idea of the familial tradition involved. I also enjoyed the part that the friends of the family played in the fight against evil; they may not have had magical powers, but they were very loyal and brave.
One thing that spoilt this novel a little for me was the large amount of errors contained within it: I spotted two grammatical slip-ups just on the first page. The same words tended to be repeated in close proximity, which I found somewhat off-putting and I also felt at times that there were slight contradictions in the text. In my view, the book might have benefited from a little tighter editing.
Tom was a likeable and realistic character. He was brave, but also acted his age: he admits to missing his mother and frequently doubts his abilities. It did come across as a little peculiar, however, that he seemed so unperturbed by his sudden time travel!
By far my favourite character was that of Naithara, the laird’s niece who’s working for a wicked demon. I thought her part was particularly well written. She had been taken over by evil but still showed some human weakness and traces of her former self.
I was slightly disappointed with the ending, which seemed incomplete. I can appreciate what the author was trying to do, but I felt a bit cheated. I’m assuming we’ll find out the missing elements during the following chapters of the serial.
I think ‘The Long Staff’ has the potential to be the start of a very good series. Unfortunately I felt it was let down a little by poor editing, but despite this, it was a gripping story with a beautiful setting and a successful cast of characters. I took pleasure from reading it and look forward to the next instalment in the series.
More information about Clare Wilson and the Staff Wielder series can be found at: http://www.staffwielder.com/