‘When the Children Return’ by Barry Kirwan

My Review (4 stars out of 5)

Ten years on from the invasion of Earth by the Axleth, Nathan, Sally and the others, along with their AI pilot Ares, are heading for home. Intending to take back their planet whatever the cost, they soon encounter problems when they find the Athena is being tracked by an enemy ship. Can Sally live up to everyone’s expectations as commander and lead the crew to victory?

This is book 2 in the Children of the Eye series, book 1 being When the Children Come. As with the first book, Barry Kirwan demonstrates his skill as a storyteller, as well as an ability to bring a sense of realism to his tale, despite the fact that the story starts in a spaceship. Although I reckon this could be read as a standalone, if you’re not familiar with the first book, I’d highly recommend it, especially as there’s a bit of a twist early on with this one. The author’s skill extends to creating a narrative filled with concepts unknown to us mere earthlings, yet he manages to make it all sound perfectly normal, without resorting to the usual sci-fi cliches. My only criticism is that compared to Book 1, where things got off to an exciting start, the story this time around seemed to take quite a while to get going, and therefore didn’t engage me quite as much as I’d hoped.

A clever and interesting book that’ll please sci-fi fans everywhere.

Purchase Links

Amazon US  

Amazon UK  

Author Bio  

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.

Social Media Links




NB This post first appeared as part of the Blog Tour for ‘When the Children Return’, via Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.

  5 comments for “‘When the Children Return’ by Barry Kirwan

  1. 30/11/2021 at 7:38 AM

    Thanks for the review Colin, I particularly appreciated that you liked the storytelling and the ability to make the unimaginable seem normal, without resorting to the usual SF cliches, . You’re the second one who has said it took a while to get going. I guess I was spending time setting the scene on the Athena, and reminding people of the characters and how they’d grown, or introducing them for new readers; always a dilemma with sequels… But for the third and final book I will definitely dive straight in. Thanks again, this review is very constructive!


    • 30/11/2021 at 7:21 PM

      I aim to please – and I do think you’re a brilliant storyteller 😉


      • 04/12/2021 at 6:37 AM

        Thanks so much, it means a lot! If you could post your review on Amazon/Goodreads, that would be much appreciated, it’s great to have balanced and measured reviews, I know as a reader that’s what I look for!


      • 04/12/2021 at 12:06 PM

        Hi Barry – done! Best wishes 😉


      • Barry Kirwan
        06/12/2021 at 9:38 AM

        Thanks a lot Colin!


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