Book Review: When the Children Return by Barry Kirwan

December 2nd, 2021 by Jane Turner

This review of When the Children Return by Barry Kirwan comes courtesy of a blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. When the Children Return was published in ebook on 26 November 2021, and I received a free copy.


Blurb:Cover art for When the Children Return

Ten years have passed since the Axleth invaded Earth and a few hundred humans escaped aboard the ship Athena, piloted by the Artificial Intelligence who calls himself Ares. Now, the refugees approach Earth, determined to take back their home.

But something has followed them from deep in space, and as war breaks out on Earth, humanity must decide who is the real enemy.


My thoughts:

This is the follow on to When the Children Come, which I reviewed back in January. Gave it 5 stars, and this second in the series is a worthy successor.

When the Children Return starts 5 years after the spaceship Athena left Earth with (what’s expected to be) the last of uninfected humanity. We join the Athena at Proxima, and jump straight into intrigue and mystery – not everyone totally trusts the Ares AI that runs Athena. The tale twists and turns through a devastating loss, attack planning, the attack itself, learning about the ‘new’ earth, and a couple of final twists that throw everything on its head… A LOT happens.

If I’m completely honest, I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first. Yes, it was really good, and the story had me hooked. But the first chapters were difficult – the jump between child and adult Sally was a little jarring and took me a while to process.

The battle planning and scenes are excellent (of course!) and the premise that grows out of this one is as great as the first. It seems to jump around, though, and there are many new characters to keep track of (along with some old ones).

All in all, When the Children Return is Two Towers – very good, very intriguing, but things aren’t over yet. Not by a long shot. And I’m waiting impatiently to see what happens next.

A worthy follow on that’s definitely worth a read.


Rating: 4/5


About the author: Author, Barry Kirwan

I grew up in Farnborough, England, home to the fast-jet Red Arrows, and started writing when still at school, a weekly satirical thriller called the Adventures of Blackie the Cat for my classmates. I then got hooked on academic writing for my day job (preventing disasters in nuclear power plants, oil rigs and aircraft) and published four text books on human error. It wasn’t until I moved to Paris that I started writing fiction again, with the Eden Paradox released in 2011. It was intended to be a one-off, but I got a lot of fans demanding more, and so it went ‘epic’, a space opera of four books.

After an accident with my back and two subsequent operations, I was laid up for a long while and couldn’t scuba dive – my other passion – so I wrote a thriller about a spy who was also a scuba diver, and the Nadia Laksheva series was (to my amazement at the time) snapped up by HarperCollins. They asked me to use a pseudonym, which is where the initials J F came from, borrowed from my late father, who loved thrillers.

Although I keep my work and fiction separate (some of my colleagues aren’t convinced) the fiction is always influenced by my psychological training, and an unending fascination with how the mind works, and how it can go off the rails. This most clearly comes out in my two new series, Greg Adams (The Dead Tell Lies) and Children of the Eye (When the Children Come).

My favourite scifi authors range from Asimov and Clarke, to Brin, McDevitt, Hamilton, Asher and Reynolds. My favourite thriller writers are Baldacci, Child and Nesbo. My favourite moment as an author is when I’m sitting with my laptop with an espresso macchiato, wondering what comes next in a story, when suddenly it arrives, and I can’t type fast enough.




Of course, if you’ve created a brilliant bit of scifi, dystopia, or fantasy that you’d like some help with, check out my Editorial Services and get in touch!


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When the Children Return Blog Tour stops


2 Responses to “Book Review: When the Children Return by Barry Kirwan”

  1. Barry Kirwan says:

    Thanks Jane, well, 4/5 is still good, and I know it does jump around a lot. Interesting that you compare it to Two Towers, because that is also exactly how I see it 🙂 But your feedback is very useful, so I’d better get started on the next one!

    • Jane Turner says:

      Considering how many books I read, 4/5 is excellent and goes on my ‘I’ll read this again’ list! I’m really glad the Two Towers reference made sense. And, yes, GET TO WORK! 😊 I need to know what happens in the end! 😁

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