Books by T.A. Barron

Released: Nov. 8, 2016

"While Barron makes that final choice a hard one, the problems seen in the previous installments also haunt this final volume, making it one for committed fans only. (Fantasy. 10-14)"
The conclusion to the Atlantis trilogy. Read full book review >
Released: May 5, 2015

"Relative inaction and deus ex machina solutions mark this installment as a typical middle volume; here's hoping the conclusion makes up for at least some of the failings of the first two books. (Fantasy. 10-14)"
The evil spirit Narkazan, supposedly vanquished in Atlantis Rising (2013), is back. Read full book review >
Released: March 24, 2015

"Words to live by, trite and larded with sentiment though they be in this particular iteration. (Inspiration. 17 & up)"
A small volume of homilies, spun from a 2013 speech and perfect for a graduate's gift (should pots of money not be an option). Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 26, 2013

"Despite the novel's flaws, Barron fans, as well as urban- and high-fantasy readers, may enjoy this original take on the Atlantis myth. (author's note, map) (Fantasy. 10 & up)"
A stand-alone fantasy from best-seller T.A. Barron. Read full book review >
GHOST HANDS by T.A. Barron
Released: July 1, 2011

The ubiquity of the handprint in cave art around the world, and Patagonia in particular, begs unresolved questions about the image's meaning; Barron's invented back story posits that healers, warriors and others who contributed to the common good may have been thus memorialized. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

A new series opens in Barron's trite version of Avalon. Basil is a tiny, unique creature, batlike and lizardlike, ignorant of his purpose but destined for greatness. His name commemorates the day he hid in a patch of basil plants, which was the same day he realized he could magically emit smells. The herb reference and scent talent are rare creative details in this morass of overwritten and unclear tropes. As Basil travels through Avalon's "seven root-realms," seeking kin and identity and trying to warn Merlin that evil's invading, Barron's artificial pacing (unrestrained use of "suddenly" and "instantly") and preachy faux-wisdom ("Memory can be hot as molten lava, or cold as a frozen glacier") preclude momentum. The prose is swollen with superlatives, and Avalon's basic conceit is confusing: The Great Tree is an actual tree, but also "a world between worlds," with "fires" and "rivers" inside. Rather than offering "a world profoundly rich in both wonder and mystery," as it boasts, this overindulgence delivers readers nothing but smugness. (Fantasy. 9-11)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2007

Set on Easter Island, this text-heavy tale imagines the impact of a tsunami on the ancient inhabitants. Told through the eyes of a young boy, the day's events unfold quickly. At his mother's request, Pico runs up to warn his father of an impending storm. Obviously disdainful of his father's preoccupation with carving the enormous statues of their ancestors, Pico delivers his message and heads home. When he sees the huge wave coming and realizes the threat is real, however, he tries to return to his father. Swept up and tumbled about, Pico is saved by catching hold of—or being held by?—one of the great stone figures. Despite their differences, Pico's father is clearly overjoyed at his survival. Low's computer-generated illustrations, resembling oil paintings, perfectly capture the ponderous weight of the stone statues and the threatening darkness of the impending storm. While the story may have the potential to engage thoughtful listeners, the appended author's note seems clearly aimed at environmentally conscious adults. Earnest but ultimately unlikely to get the message across. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

When they're written well, classic fantasy motifs give a story richness, archetypal depth, and solid scaffolding—but badly done, they cause only wincing. This wretchedly overwritten, haughty attempt at a Tolkien-like epic buckles under the weight of cliché, repetition, cringe-worthy dialects, images that alternate between overused and downright cryptic, and a world whose geography is mapped but never metaphysically clear. Barron's touted as an environmentalist, but the environmental philosophy here is no stronger than in much other literature, and often it's painfully forced: for example, it's the evil sorcerer who chops down a forest and enslaves animals. If characterizations were better, this would be fine, but they're not. A prophecy from long ago sets a ragged band of travelers on a quest. A Dark Child born 17 years ago is destined to cause the end of Avalon, and someone is the true heir of Merlin. Who? Who cares? (map, history of Avalon) (Fantasy. 10+)Read full book review >
HIGH AS A HAWK by T.A. Barron
Released: May 1, 2004

Enos Mills fought hard to make a national park of the majestic mountains like Longs Peak in Colorado. In 1905, he was guide to eight-year-old Harriet Peters, who became the youngest person to reach Longs Peak's 14,255-foot summit. Her dramatic story is told in the first person, captured by Lewin's equally dramatic and splendid watercolors. Harriet wanted to reach the summit to honor her dead mother, who had longed to climb it. Lewin is a master of light and dark, wide vistas and intimate close-ups. We see every exquisite detail of tree and mountain, elk and snow. Sturdy Harriet describes the "surprises" along the way of weather and the elements, but the last image shows her with arms outspread like the hawk almost beside her. Harriet's unusual (to us) costume of leggings, skirt, and puffy bonnet is documented in the photograph of her and Mills that's included in the author's note. A fine, unusual, and inspiring read. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Environmentalist, author of several epic-length fantasies, and founder of an award for heroic young people, Barron invites readers to hike with an international company of heroes drawn from history, literature, and contemporary news reports. Defining five types of heroism, from unpremeditated acts such as Pocahontas's rescue of John Smith or, more recently, nine-year-old Sherwin Long's of his drowning little brother, to the constant courage displayed by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller, and others challenged by seemingly overwhelming physical obstacles, he develops the idea that anyone, of any age, anywhere, can walk a hero's path, given some combination of courage, faith, perseverance, hope, "moral direction," and humor. He makes his points in a lucid, direct way, supports them with anecdotes featuring, for the most part, children or teenagers, and closes with a gathering of inspirational lines from Chief Seattle, Mae West, and other sages. Though Barron may confuse less knowledgeable readers by tucking fictional heroes—Prometheus, Frodo, Mafutu from Call It Courage—into his gallery of living, or once-living, ones, the simplicity of the message and wide range of examples combine to make compelling motivational reading. (notes, bibliography, index of names only, small black-and-white photos) (Nonfiction. 12-15)Read full book review >
TREE GIRL by T.A. Barron
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

In this short fantasy novel, nine-year-old Rowanna, who lives in an isolated cottage with an old fisherman she calls Master, longs to learn more about her mother. Master has forbidden Rowanna to enter the woods near the cottage, which he claims are full of dangerous tree ghouls. But a playful young bear coaxes Rowanna into the woods and after they becomes friends, she spends her days there. On High Hallow Eve, the two friends take a day-long journey to find the tree where Master discovered Rowanna as a baby. A wild night ensues when the tree spirits emerge and dance with joy, and Rowanna learns the secret of her mother, who is a willow tree. The revelation, though, creates a major inconsistency in the fantasy, causing the reader to wonder why the mother's tree spirit didn't simply rescue Rowanna years earlier. Barron (The Wings of Merlin, 2000, etc.) writes lyrically about the forest and seasons, but he has unfortunately tried to give the language an old-fashioned sound by repeated use of words like "mayhaps" and "aye." He also relies heavily on exclamation points and italics to add emotion. For example, when Rowanna sees a drawing in the sand, she realizes, "It was the face of the master himself! Aye, that it was!" The uncomplicated, slightly predictable story will appeal only to fantasy and fairy-tale lovers who can overlook the often stilted prose. Forsooth. (Fiction 8-11)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 22, 1997

This second installment of the sequence that began with The Lost Years of Merlin (1996) is as full of action and excitement as its predecessor, but is kinder and gentler in tone; while its origins are epic, it is foremost a tale of the heart. Teenage Merlin remains on the enchanted isle of Fincayra, charged by its inhabitants to traverse the countryside, playing the flowering harp and thereby rejuvenating the land that was scarred in battle during the overthrow of Merlin's father, the evil King Stangmar. Although Merlin is proud to serve, his own desire to be reunited with his mother, Elen, so overwhelms him that he abandons his task and teleports her to his side. No sooner do the pair embrace, however, than Elen is poisoned by a deathshadow, meant for her son by evil Rhita Gawr: Merlin's mother can only be saved if he masters the seven wizard's songs within one lunar month. The quest on which Barron sends his amiable hero is delightfully accessible and appropriate for this audience: In essence, Merlin must rise above his own hubris, and use his heart and mind as an adult. Aiding Merlin in his tasks are the lovely and resourceful Rhia, and a new character, the dour would-be jester Bumbelwy. While plenty of characters from the previous novel appear, as do familiar landmarks, it is Merlin's inner journey that readers will cherish above all: His development is convincing and heartwarming. A rich and resonant read. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 10, 1996

Barron (The Merlin Effect, 1994, etc.) transforms the early years of the mythical wizard's life into a vivid, action-filled fantasy, replete with deep forests, ruined castles, and evil spells: a promising first installment of a projected trilogy. Although Emrys, 12-year-old son of Branwen, has fantastic powers, he is also a charismatic and sympathetic character; many readers will no doubt empathize with his self-pity, awkwardness, and the tense relationship he shares with his mother, a witch. But Barron never forgets his hero's destiny, and so when Emrys defends his mother from the flames of an angry mob by telekinetically burning the town bully, he leaps into the fire to save the boy and loses his own eyesight. Recovering in an abbey from his burns, Emrys develops second sight, vows to never again use his powers in anger, and sets out to learn his destiny. Along the way, he meets Rhia, who is brave, intelligent, and resourceful, and who enlists his aid in the war that forms the final steps toward adulthood that Emrys—now Merlin—takes. While Barron is careful to show that Merlin is still physically a boy, readers are left with a vision of a more confident, compassionate hero, prepared to confront the joys and sorrows that await him in future volumes. (Fiction. 8-14) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 1994

The Merlin effect is a kind of immortality bestowed by Serilliant, a shell-shaped horn fashioned by the craftsman Emrys as a gift for his mermaid bride, Wintonwy. Merwas, king of the mer-people and Wintonwy's father, placed a rainbow colored liquid into Serilliant that would hold the power of eternal life—for those who understood it. Serilliant came into the wizard Merlin's hands and, because of his arrogance (he even renamed Serilliant ``the Horn of Merlin''), Merlin lost it. But all that was over a thousand years ago. Presently, Kate Gordon, 13, is spending the summer with her father, who is doing research in Baja California. Jim Gordon is a historian specializing in Merlin, and he has reason to believe that the Horn of Merlin is buried with a sunken ship, the Resurreccion, just off the coast. The problem is that he can't prove it because an enormous whirlpool makes getting close impossible. Well, not quite impossible: Kate is sucked into the whirlpool during a storm and finds the Resurreccion, Serilliant, and even Merlin himself. She participates in a sorcery-filled adventure, saves Serilliant, and proves her worth by returning it to its rightful place. No matter how you slice them, Arthurian legends are magical. T.A. Barron (The Ancient One, 1992, etc.) may not be in T.H. White's league, but he'll do. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

A long but well-peopled fantasy with a strong environmental message. When Kate, 13, tries to help stop a group of unemployed Oregon loggers from cutting a unique stand of redwoods, she's cast back five centuries and propelled into the struggle against Gashra, a megalomaniac volcano creature with a very real ``scorched earth policy.'' The strongest feature of this novel is not the wandering, predictable plot but the colorful cast, especially the nonhumans- -boulder-like Stonehags, many-eyed underwater Guardians, lizard-folk, owl-folk, and (best of all) the monstrous Gashra, a delicious combination of tyrannosaur, octopus, and two-year-old- -who add a strong dash of humor as well as occasional prophecies and rescues. In the end, Kate recovers a stolen power crystal, sends Gashra back into the earth for a few more centuries (take heed), and returns to her own time to witness one last desperate logger felling the oldest redwood just before a protective injunction takes effect. Barron shows some understanding of the loggers' plight, but pushes concepts like the interconnectedness of nature, our arrogance toward the environment, and the necessity of preservation (both directly and metaphorically). Still, much better wrought than the author's tedious Heartlight (1990). (Fiction. 12-18) Read full book review >