The Last Refuge | Christina Bacilieri 


Out Now from Crescent Ink Publishing; 312 pages

Content Warning: Violence, death

About the Author: 

“Christina Bacilieri is the author of the young adult fantasy The Last Refuge, the debut novel in her Stealing Sanctuary series. She’s a fan of all things magic and grew up on a steady diet of fantasy novels and pasta supplied by her loving grandmother. Her childhood favorites include A Wrinkle in Time and The Chronicles of Narnia. A graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, she’s used her BBA in Marketing as a business relationship consultant and project manager. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her wandering through nature or taking in art at her favorite museums. She and her husband share their home in Texas with two snuggly pups and an abundance of books.” (Bio from Christina Bacilieri’s website).

Find Christina Bacilieri on the following platforms:

“We do our best to make peace, but some fights are worth having.”

Kiera Vandyer has always felt a dangerous desire for magic, but she knows she must stay under the radar to survive the Ruling Board’s all encompassing rule. When Kiera joins her classmates on a scheme that should be the solution to all of her and her mother’s problems, she commits the worst crime imaginable: crossing the border to Etabon, the last refuge for magic in Atterah. In order to conceal her misstep, and her all the more impressive connections to magic, Kiera must escape the warden and hide her crime from the Ruling Board. 

Despite an intriguing storyline and a wonderfully refreshing magic system I was left wanting more. Though there were quite a few aspects that I liked, there were some glaring problems that I couldn’t ignore. The pacing and world building were my main gripes. With Bacilieri’s inclusion of time jumps some aspects felt too rushed while others were perfectly paced. Some interactions with major characters felt unnecessary and I think the writing style was a major contributor towards this sentiment. Something about the writing style was not for me. I felt a bit indifferent towards Kiera and the only character I was invested in was Attalin. It seems that a bit more character development could make the evolution of the story more effective. My final issue was with the portrayal of the villain. Though we are repeatedly told he is evil, we don’t get the thought process to explain his actions or treatment of others nearly enough to my liking. In contrast, some of the things I thought Bacilieri did incredibly well were creating meaningful metaphors regarding humanity, beauty, wisdom and power. The whole book has this social commentary that easily parallels reality in a way that doesn’t take away from the fantastical setting, which I think is a really well done aspect of the book. 

Pine Reads Review would like to thank SparkPoint Studio & SparkPress for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.

Vanshikha Vij, Pine Reads Review Writer