‘I wrote the book of my heart’: Texas YA author’s debut novel weaves magical narrative of hope

“The Last Refuge,” from Christina Bacilieri, follows the story of Kiera as she crosses borders to new lands, new powers, and new dangers.

By Kristen CabreraMay 3, 2024 3:39 pm, , ,

San Antonian Christina Bacilieri says her grandma Nancy is responsible for Bacilleri’s deep appreciation of storytelling. The days of library trips followed by cozy book readings are nestled in her memory.

It was through her grandmother where Bacilieri, who is dyslexic, got the courage to pick up a pen and write. Her debut novel, “The Last Refuge,” came together at a tough time for Bacilieri – when her grandmother’s cancer had returned.

“I wrote this story for the both of us,” she said. “The lessons she taught me, like the ability to be both fierce and compassionate, I think will always be an aspect of my storytelling.”

“The Last Refuge,” book one of a trilogy, follows the story of 16-year-old Kiera Vandyer as she crosses the borders to a new land, new powers, and a new danger.

“She commits the worst possible infraction. She has trespassed over the border in to Etabon, the last refuge for magic,” Bacilieri says. “So to conceal her crime, Kiera has to use her strange new powers to battle for her freedom or die trying.”

Another magic part of Bacilieri’s storytelling hinges on embracing one’s authentic self and all the differences that make each other up. 

“The reason I write characters that are dealing with the struggle of masking themselves to fit in, is because of dyslexia. It’s because of my struggle,” she said.

Through her own journey of self-acceptance, Bacilieri’s relationship with her dyslexia has turned into an appreciation of how she sees the world.

“In a world where loneliness is really prevalent, that’s what I write: narratives of hope.”

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