With hints of Hunger Games, 1984, Shadow and Bone, and other YA and adult fantasy novels, as well as unique, dystopian elements all her own, Christine Bacilieri has created a magical, world where Big Brother is watching, magic is flowing, and you will feel a part of the adventure from the moment you open the first page.

About the Book

Magic will transform you. Power could destroy you. Actions will define you.

Kiera Vandyer told herself she’d only agreed to this scheme for the money, that nothing else had drawn her to this venture, but you can’t lie to the truest parts of yourself. For sixteen years, she’s hidden her burning curiosity for magic, knowing that one misstep would mean certain death at the hands of Atterah’s merciless leaders: the all-powerful Ruling Board.

Just when Kiera is on the cusp of securing a stable future for herself and her mother, a cruel twist of fate forces her to commit the worst possible infraction. She trespasses over the border into Etabon, the last refuge for magic on Atterah. Once within, her rare form makes her a target for the warden of the site. To escape the warden and conceal her crime from the Ruling Board, Kiera must use her strange new powers to battle for her freedom… or die trying.

The Last Refuge is the enthralling first novel in the Stealing Sanctuary series, weaving together the destinies of two dreamers caught up in a dark curse that spans generations. Enter a world of gripping adventure where love burns slowly, family is chosen, and hope is a dangerous yet beautiful dream.

My Thoughts

I can’t believe this is the author’s first novel. Sometimes, you watch an author grow into their work. The story is solid, and the writing could use some editing. This author knocked the whole thing out of the park first go round! This is one of those instances where I could have sat down and read an entire series if it existed. It was also another one of those books where I felt like it would be easier to highlight the passages I didn’t want to keep up with. The prose was so beautiful ad poignant in places, as well as being emotional and romantic in the simplest of ways. You don’t see much, but you see the emotional growth and connection of a budding young romance, and it’s so beautiful. In YA Romance, in my opinion, less is always more. They’re still kids, let them be kids. And I don’t think I’ve misinterpreted the LGBTQ relationships in the book, but if I have – well this is what fandoms are built on, and that just means the author will have teen fans scouring the internet for theories, fanfictions, memes, and more! The magical system, the creatures, the ships, the villains. Oh me, oh my!

Speaking of which, this is the exact kind of world that entire fandoms can be built on, and I look forward to seeing it thrive. The world is absolutely ripe for the picking. A strong magical system, a horrible villain, a collection of strong female characters leading the resistance. This is a perfect book for the times. One of the things I adore about fantasy and science fiction is how much social commentary is just naturally entrenched in the genres. Sure, you’ll get some in a mystery novel or even a women’s fiction or romance novel here and there, but it’s almost a given in a fantasy or sci-fi novel. Half the fun is trying to figure out what exactly the book is trying to comment on specifically. And, I think this one has a lot to say. It would also say it all well in a television series or a film series. Of course, we book people would always say that the books were better because they never quite capture the beauty of the original texts, but we’d flock to the movie theater or the apps either way. The imagery fueled by the descriptions is stunning, so if done even remotely well it could be amazing. I hope Netflix or Amazon gets on that right now!

I’m so pleased the author and Love Books Tours included me in this tour! Can’t wait to see the next book and catch up with these characters!

Who’s It For?

Fantasy lovers – both young and old – will love this story. I think it has the potential and strength to forge a new fandom with new ships, eager fans, and lucrative film deals for the author. Of course,e that could be my loyal fan flag flying. But, this debut author has a new fan in me! If you loved the Hunger Games, 1984, or other dystopian or magical fantasy tales, grab this one up today! Written for young adults, so probably better for teens.

Content Warning: Violence, Torture, Death/Near Death, Government Spying/Control Techniques, Climate Disaster/End of the World setting, Magic/Religious Ideology, Fear Elements, Animal Violence, Cruelty to and from Leadership, Single Parents, Racism, Bigotry

Question of the Day

Have you ever read/written fanfiction?

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. Christina studied marketing at the University of Texas at San Antonio before working 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.