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


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

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

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener.


The only effective treatment for the lethal fever that plagues Kandala is a potion derived from the rare Moonflower.

Medicine is allocated to each sector of the kingdom by the decree of King Harristan, but the supply is limited. Thieves, smugglers, and black marketeers are subject to punishment and execution overseen by the cruel Prince Corrick in his role as the King’s Justice. Like many in Kandala, Tessa Cade loathes the king and his younger brother for ignoring the plight of those who cannot afford treatment. With the help of her close friend Weston, the 18-year-old apothecary’s assistant steals Moonflower petals from the wealthy and makes potions to distribute among the poor. Soon after Wes is caught by the night patrol, Tessa is presented with an opportunity to sneak into the palace. She enters with the intention of taking a sample of the palace’s potent Moonflower elixir only to be captured and brought before Prince Corrick, who, Tessa discovers, might not be as heartless as she originally believed. The slow-burn romance—between an idealist with straightforward moral beliefs and a pragmatist trapped by duty—will keep the pages turning, as will the scheming of the king’s consuls and the rebellion brewing in the background. Tessa and Corrick are cued White; other characters’ skin colors range from beige to deep brown.

The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0466-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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