YA fantasy blends dystopia of “Hunger Games” with magic of “Crescent City”

Enthralling with lush worldbuilding, slow-burn romance in magical cacotopia

SPRING BRANCH, TX – Readers will be captivated by this spellbinding YA fantasy debut with a poignant message of hope and resilience. “The Last Refuge” by Christina Bacilieri (Crescent Ink Publishing, LLC, November 14, 2023) is the gripping first novel in the Stealing Sanctuary trilogy, weaving together the destinies of two dreamers caught up in a dark curse that spans generations. Bacilieri crafts a novel that is richly layered with tension, intrigue, and the mystique of forbidden magic. Enter a world of gripping adventure where love burns slowly, family is chosen, and hope is a dangerous yet beautiful dream.

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.

A suspenseful adventure that will engage readers to the final page.”  

–Kirkus Reviews

“The Last Refuge”

Christina Bacilieri | November 14th, 2023 | Crescent Ink Publishing, LLC | YA Fantasy

Print | 979-8-9886618-1-8 | $24.99 | Paperback | 979-8-9886618-0-1  | $14.99 

Ebook | 979-8-9886618-2-5 | $9.99

CHRISTINA BACILIERI: 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. Find out more about Christina and news of upcoming books in the Stealing Sanctuary series at her website. 

Follow Christina Bacilieri on social media: 

Instagram: @christinabacilieri | Tik Tok: @christinabacilieriauthor

In an interview, Christina Bacilieri can discuss:

  • How Bacilieri’s upbringing with strong female role models empowered her to write characters defying societal norms, central themes of self-discovery, empowerment, and resilience.
  • How Kiera’s journey embraces self-wholeness and the transformative power of inner magic; amidst societal fragmentation and pressure for assimilation, her story highlights unity in speaking truth to power, fostering freedom and hope.
  • The novel’s thoughtline of finding magic in individual differences, which was inspired by her childhood experiences of growing up with dyslexia. 
  • How books were a place of refuge and comfort for Bacilieri growing up and in turn inspired her journey as a writer. 
  • How writing this story brought healing and hope during her darkest time, following the loss of her grandmother, for whom the story was dedicated. This deeply influenced the theme of love, community, and friendship amidst adversity.
  • The striking parallels between Bacilieri and her main character: Kiera battles against her magical dreams, mirroring Bacilieri’s own struggle with imposter syndrome as she hesitated to embrace her dream of becoming an author.
  • How Kiera’s bisexuality showcases the power of writing a queer character whose identity isn’t the focal point of the narrative, but rather an intrinsic part of their multidimensional existence.

An Interview with

Christina Bacilieri

1. What inspired the concept for “The Last Refuge” and the rest of The Stealing Sanctuary series?

The premise of the book came to me in a dream. In the dream I watched as Kiera crossed over the border into Etabon and changed into her magical form. I’ve always loved books like the “Chronicles of Narnia”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “The Giver”, and “Harry Potter” so I feel the idea for this book had been growing in my mind for a long time. After I had that dream it sparked an idea to create a world where the beings were many different types of creatures cut off from their magic. I’ve always loved the “who would I become” idea. Like many people during 2020 and 2021 I was struggling with the loss of family and writing this book brought me a deep sense of hope, community, and resilience which I channeled into my characters and the series overall.

2. How did the strong women in your life, particularly your mother and grandmother, play a role in your inspiration for writing “The Last Refuge?” 

I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without the love and guidance of the incredible women in my life, that is why I’ve imbued those characteristics into my FMC and her mentors. My mother was the first person to read the original handwritten draft of “The Last Refuge” and has encouraged me throughout my writing journey. My grandmother gifted me with my love of story. I would go to her house every Friday night to have dinner and swap stories (our favorite books, shows, and what happened to us that week). At her table I could be wholly myself – she loved me unconditionally. I dedicated this book to her because without her presence in my life I wouldn’t have had the courage to pick up a pen. Stories connected me and my grandma – now that she’s passed, I still miss her but when I’m experiencing a good story I can still feel her with me. Community and love are the foundation on which I built this book – I learned so much of that from her.

3. Why was it important to you to write a story of found family and community? 

As human beings, we all encounter moments of feeling like outsiders, and the sense of being unseen by those around us can be profoundly isolating. In my story, Kiera experiences a similar sense of being set apart even within the borders of Etabon. However, she discovers a group of beings who love and accept her for who she truly is. In a world where loneliness is increasingly prevalent, I aimed to create a narrative of hope, emphasizing that readers are not alone in these feelings. “The Last Refuge” underscores the idea that our differences are a source of magic and unity. Personally, it took time for me to find my closest friends, but once I did they became an essential part of my life and inspired the friendships within the story.

4. How did your experiences of struggling with dyslexia inform your journey as an author and writing this series? 

I struggled with dyslexia growing up and was bullied in grade school for it. After working with a reading specialist my struggle with reading turned into one of my greatest joys in life. There are times where dyslexia can still make writing frustrating but my relationship to it has transformed. If I’d never been given the opportunity to work one on one with a creative reading specialist I’m not certain I would’ve developed my deep wonder and appreciation for stories. Now, I could not imagine my life without them, each book I’ve read has shaped me in a different way. That is the beauty of storytelling – it allows us to experience the lived experiences of the characters on the page. We can grow alongside them traveling to magical places, feeling joy, or grief and ultimately becoming more empathetic people. My main character Kiera feels other for her differences – I want to share that our differences don’t have to define us but are a thread in the tapestry that make us who we are. Our challenges can forge a path to our triumphs.

5. What do you hope that readers take away from reading “The Last Refuge?” 

I hope my readers take away a sense of wonder from “The Last Refuge.” My goal is to immerse them in a world where they can lose themselves and escape into the lush worldbuilding and twists and turns of Kiera’s journey. Growing up, stories provided a safe place for me to dream and I want to create a similar haven for readers.

6. What’s coming next for Kiera and The Stealing Sanctuary series? 

Book two in the Stealing Sanctuary series will focus on the choices Kiera will be forced to make and the internal battle of the light and dark within herself. She will unravel secrets about her past and her future. To save the ones she loves, Kiera will not only have to call upon her magic like never before, but she must rely on the bonds that she’ll forge throughout her trials. There’s a darkness growing within the borders of Etabon, and if it’s unleashed upon Kiera’s world… not even the deepest love or strongest magic will set the scales of light and dark to rights again.

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