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Barren: Book 1 - War in the Ruins

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Loved it! 😍

A gripping post-apocalyptic thriller, set on the shores of Lake Erie, about one woman’s battle with an warrior clan with a horrifying plan.

War In The Ruins is the first book in the Barren trilogy, by an author I had not come across before, but who has published extensively in the post-apocalyptic, horror and sci-fi genres. I received a free copy to review via the Reedsy Discovery programme. This was an addictively exciting read, featuring a wonderful heroine and a new take on the traditional PA adventure, with no supernatural elements but some scarily over-zealous villains.


Fifteen years after an unspecified man-made apocalypse, forty-something obstetrician Katy has survived the horrors of the wasteland that America has become, by remaining on her sailboat on Lake Erie with her faithful dog. Hiding away on remote islands where she grows food, she visits land only to help women from the gangs roaming the ruins of what was once Ohio to give birth. When her boat is wrecked by a storm, Katy is forced to take refuge with the Los Muertos tribe, who are being hunted to extinction by the aggressive Venganza, who want their most precious resource - a special little girl who holds the key to their survival.


At 241 pages, this is a short but compelling read which took me less than a day to finish, as I was rapidly engrossed in Katy’s story. The writing is superb, with evocative descriptions of both the scenery and the highly cinematic action sequences. This felt like a young adult story, but featured an older heroine and some very dark passages - revelation of exactly what the Venganza have been doing was pretty shocking, but animal lovers need not fear, Decker survives!


At the start of the book is a link to a free prequel short story that describes Hado’s rise to the head of Venganza, with a recommendation to read it afterwards to avoid spoilers (which I of course ignored since I like to read things in order.) This meant I did foresee some of the major twists but this in no was detracted from my enjoyment, and I look forward to reading the next two, which are already available on Amazon. Recommended to those who like a strong female lead and no romance.

Reviewed by

I’m English but have lived in NZ for 19 years.
I’ve always been a serious reader, and have been reviewing on GoodReads for years, but in the past few years have developed my reviewing through NetGalley and now Reedsy. I mostly read mysteries and thrillers, although enjoy other genres in between.

About the author

J. Thorn is a Top 100 Most Popular Author in Horror, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure and Fantasy (Amazon Author Rank). He has published over one million words and has sold more than 170,000 books worldwide. view profile

Published on June 06, 2017

Published by

60000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Reviewed by