From the Until The Stars Are Dead series , Vol. 1

An understated and atmospheric tale from a strong new voice in the genre.

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Barkley’s debut fantasy novel sees a fiercely independent young thief forced into partnership with a novice sorcerer.

Twenty-two-year-old Ari is a loner and a thief, living wild with her animal companion, a bobcat named Jag. Ari lost her parents at age 7 and her mentor when she was 16. Since then, it has been just her and Jag, and that’s the way she likes it. But Ari has debts, and to fulfill her obligations and keep her thieving reputation intact, she undertakes to steal a dragith stone from the far-off Capital city. The job requires her to travel across country that’s blighted by civil war and to partner with 24-year-old Ely, a seemingly happy-go-lucky young magic user. Ari is accomplished with a sword and a knife, but the journey is quite dangerous. It’s been a number of years since the Malavi people overthrew the monarchy, with the Zaerans as their opposition. Many have died throughout the land since then, and magical beings have been driven into hiding. Ari’s quest is not one of romance or valor but one of bleak necessity and survival. Can she retrieve the dragith stone and resume her old life—or will her family history rear its head? Barkley writes in the third person, almost exclusively from Ari’s point of view but occasionally from Ely’s. The prose is accomplished and the storytelling confident, spurning genre clichés and developing at its own measured pace. Ari is a well-drawn protagonist, and her backstory emerges gradually. Her fortitude and competence will gain readers’ respect, and her lack of sociability makes for a pleasing contrast to Ely—a more open character but one with hidden depths. Jag’s presence adds the perfect measure of warmth. The world in which they journey has dark undertones, as if familiar fantasy elements have rotted away and left a dead-hearted dystopia in their place. Barkley keeps the dialogue realistic and exposition to a minimum, letting the journey define its own stakes. The result is a measured but engaging first installment in a series that offers much promise.

An understated and atmospheric tale from a strong new voice in the genre.

Pub Date: May 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63752-963-8

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023


A dark and gripping feminist tale.

A young woman faces her past to discover the truth about one of her nation’s heroes.

When Effy Sayre, the only female architecture student at her university in Llyr, wins the competition to design Hiraeth Manor for the estate of the late Emrys Myrddin, national literary figure and her favorite author, it is the perfect opportunity to leave behind a recent trauma. She arrives to find the cliffside estate is literally crumbling into the ocean, and she quickly realizes things may not be as they seem. Preston, an arrogant literature student, is also working at the estate, gathering materials for the university’s archives and questioning everything Effy knows about Myrddin. When Preston offers to include her name on his thesis—which may allow her to pursue the dream of studying literature that was frustrated by the university’s refusal to admit women literature students—Effy agrees to help him. He’s on a quest for answers about the source of Myrddin’s most famous work, Angharad, a romance about a cruel Fairy King who marries a mortal woman. Meanwhile, Myrddin’s son has secrets of his own. Preston and Effy start to suspect that Myrddin’s fairy tales may hold more truth than they realize. The Welsh-inspired setting is impressively atmospheric, and while some of the mythology ends up feeling extraneous, the worldbuilding is immersive and thoughtfully addresses misogyny and its effects on how history is written. Main characters are cued white.

A dark and gripping feminist tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780063211506

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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