You’re getting a blog post early this week, because I received my pre-order of Emerald Blaze a little early, so I thought I’d get my review up a little early for anyone considering picking up this book. This is your mandatory reminder that I think all series books read better when you’ve read the previous books. I’ve reviewed all of the other books in the Hidden Legacy series except for the first (which I may have to re-read and review for the sake of cohesion now that I’ve realised that), the reviews for White Hot, Wildfire and Sapphire Flames are linked to their titles.
As usual I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, but by discussing the basics of the plot I’ll likely be discussing things that were set up in previous books, especially the novels that focussed on Nevada.
On to the review!
The cover is a bit ‘standard romance-y’ and maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t remember a specific scene from the book that would correspond to this. I also think that Catalina is described as having slightly darker skin in the novel, but overall, the cover is interesting to look at and not horribly offensive
As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.
The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.
Emerald Blaze was incredible. It fits well into the Hidden Legacy series, while also telling an engrossing, entertaining, thoroughly readable story in its own right. I love the focus on family that this series in particular has, as a longtime fan of Ilona Andrews, the similarities between this series, The Edge series and the authors’ Kate Daniels works really shine through, and I’m glad to have a consistent source of entertaining, witty, grounded urban fantasy in the works of Ilona Andrews’ work.
Emerald Blaze has a little more Nevada and Rogan than the previous book focussing on Catalina, and I love that the authors gave Catalina time to shine in her own right before reintroducing her older sister. I loved seeing Catalina coming into her own as the Head of House, I thoroughly enjoyed the way the sisters’ different life choices were never compared in a way that showed one as superior, I love Catalina’s compassion and the way that it never impeded her ability to lead her family, and I was glad that inevitable conclusions weren’t dragged out unnecessarily to cause angst.
The slow character work being done for Leon and Bern, and to a lesser extent Runa and Cornelius is really great to read, and of course the Baylor women are also a joy to discover more about. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before the way I really appreciate the focus on the older women in the family as well—in something of a romance novel in particular, it’s very refreshing to see representation of women over 40 as complete human beings. Grandma Frida is a consistent source of joy in the books, and especially contrasted with Victoria Tremayne, she brings a welcome touch of comic relief and maternal feelings—despite the untraditional way both grandmothers live their lives.
The male members of the family are welcome additions to the storyline, despite for the most part not being the focus of the books. Seeing them subtly flex their strength in this novel to support, rather than undermine, Catalina’s leadership was amazing, hilarious, and much appreciated. Seeing the Baylor’s (and their allies/non-blood family) band together in times of strife never fails to entertain me, and I also love the other members of the Houston Houses that we get introduced to in this novel. Stephen Jiang in particular is an interesting character, although all of the characters that get fleshed out in this novel were well-drawn and intriguing.
The villain from this novel was well-motivated and believable (in the context of the world), and I thought the way Ilona Andrews managed to craft a great storyline in a relatively short page length, while moving along the main series arc and introducing villains for future books, AND having a building romance and continuing character work for a pretty-large handful of beloved characters is testament to the authors’ skill. The science-fantasy feel of the threat in Emerald Blaze was a great way to change up the series, without seeming like a massive departure from the style of previous books.
One thing that I feel the need to point out is much like Sapphire Flames included references to events that occurred in Diamond Fire (a novella that occurs between books three and four), Emerald Blaze seems to reference events that I haven’t yet read. I’m unaware of any novella that occurred in between Sapphire Flames and the current book, though I would like to read it if my feeling is correct.
All in all, Emerald Blaze was an exquisitely crafted, extremely readable entry into the Hidden Legacy world, and I think any fans of Ilona Andrews’ work will not be disappointed. The hilarious family dynamics are akin to Molly Harper’s Southern Eclectic and Half Moon Hollow series’; the fun and unique magic class system are very like Gail Carriger’s work; and the consistent integrity and loyalty of the main character in the face of peril is very like that of Harry Dresden in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.
Emerald Blaze (officially) releases on the 25th of August, 2020, and I’ll post a reminder then too.