One thing I love about my Kindle is the ability to make pre-orders because on my own I lose track of publishing dates. The fact that as soon as a favorite author has a release date, I can pre-order it and then it appears in my Kindle months later is amazing. Sometimes, books pop up on Tuesday morning, and I think, “nice, that will be fun to read once I am done with my current read.” Other times, I immediately drop everything else that I can and dive in. The last two weeks have been especially exciting because I had two Tuesdays in a row of the later reaction thanks to two favorite urban fantasy authors having new novels.
Last Tuesday, the newest Ilona Andrews novel dropped. It’s not a new series per se since it is a Hidden Legacy novel but it’s the beginning of a new trilogy within the series. The first three focused on the oldest sister of the Baylor family, and the next three will focus on Catalina, the middle sister. Nevada is at a funeral in Spain with her husband Rogan, which gives the reader a chance to really get to know Catalina without the distraction of a beloved former main character, even as the reader is reacquainted with the rest of the Baylor family (both blood and chosen).
Catalina’s powers are very different from Nevada’s, and as a result, she is a very different character. She is much more introverted, and people have a tendency to misread her as shy or passive but that is because so much of her life revolved around tamping her rather unique powers down. Nevada discovered darker sides to her power as the trilogy went along, but Catalina has never felt comfortable playing with her power to discover its extents, because it can so easily go wrong. She is a siren, and simply by speaking, she can make people love her. It doesn’t take much for that love to turn ugly but she can use her power for good, too.
In fact, the novel begins because Augustine, a former colleague of Nevada’s, asks Catalina for her help in talking a 15 year old boy down from the roof. His mother and his sister died in a fire, and he is not reacting well (even though his oldest sister is still alive). Other people can’t get close because his magical power is the ability to create and control poison so he is making anyone that attempts to interfere sick. Catalina actually knows his surviving sister, and despite warnings from Augustine, she takes on the case to investigate the fire and the deaths more closely after she saves the boy.
Catalina quickly finds out that there is something off about the deaths since her first stop in the investigation leads to an attack, and the unexpected appearance of Alessandro Sagredo, who also warns her away from the investigation. The novel introduces quite a few interesting pieces such as medical experiments, assassin guilds and another branch of the law. Some of the decisions Catalina makes in this novel have the potential to play out in interesting ways later in the series but the overall mystery of this novel seemed a bit straightforward/weak.
However, everything surrounding that part was so much fun and enjoyable. It’s been three years since the previous trilogy ended and House Baylor is about to hit the end of their grace period where they are off limits from attacks. Catalina is dealing with being the head of the household, and she is doing it by delegating more than Nevada did but the rest of her family is made up of loving and supportive hotheads so sometimes their decisions are not helpful for actually keeping a business afloat. I also liked the side plot of the issues with internal security, showing more of the day to day struggles she and her family face. It just seemed like once Catalina identified a person potentially behind the fires, there wasn’t much more detective work at play. It was basically, “yep, and here are action sequences.” I mean there was a bit of a conspiracy about the motivation, but I wouldn’t have minded getting more into that part of it.
As far as Alessandro, Catalina and he have decent chemistry but he hasn’t made much of an impression on me so far. He has secrets which I look forward to exploring but he’s definitely not at Curran or Rogan levels of appeal for me at this point in time (granted Curran had some bad moments later in the series, and many people didn’t like Rogan’s alpha male on first introduction). We’ll see if that changes as the trilogy progresses but at this point I am more interested in Catalina on her own and the secrets of the politics of the Hidden Legacy world than a romance between Catalina and Alessandro.