What if a serum could change humanity, giving some super-human magical powers while turning others into monsters? What if it were locked away so keep everyone safe, but someone opened the box, changing and distorting humanity for their own reasons? A protector would rise to stop them: and in the newest installment of the Hidden Legacy series, that protector is Catalina Baylor, Prime Siren, Head of House Baylor, and an unstoppable force when it comes to doing what she believes is right—and protecting her family.
Emerald Blaze, the second novel in Catalina’s story arc, is due to hit shelves in August 2020, but Den of Geek got exclusive access to reveal its gorgeous cover. Check it out…
The Ilona Andrews author team—husband and wife Ilona and Gordon—gave Den of Geek some excellent insider information about how the cover came to be, and about the future of the series.
Unlike the case for most authors, for Catalina’s Hidden Legacy novels, the authors had a huge amount of input. When they negotiated the contract for the books, they requested that Gene Mollica, who did the cover for the book Iron and Magic, be the artist for all the covers. When Avon agreed, they started the process of working with Gene on the covers.
The initial cover for Sapphire Flames was completely in the wrong tone: “It was very urban fantasy. Black leather. It was a beautiful cover,” Ilona said, but it just wasn’t suited to the story. They asked to have it reshot, and Gene asked them to let him know what they wanted instead. The worked with their agent and the art team at Avon, and Gene gave them a tremendous series of shots to look through, and they got to choose their favorites.
They give feedback from everything from poses to dress color to how Catalina’s partner (and the man who broke her heart), Alessandro, holds his gun. The color of Catalina’s dress—and the magic swirls in the background—match the title’s gemstone in all the books in the series (even novella prequel, Diamond Fire, features some of the same color coding), and those choices do have some significance for the series.
But the way the theme came about was more outside of the box. The team was in New York, discussing the series with their editor, agent, and publicist, brainstorming title ideas. Since they’d already done Diamond Fire, they decided to go with gems and flames.
“I think it was written on a cocktail napkin,” Gordon joked. Savvy readers can definitely expect to see a reference in each book to the title, however: “We always have to put the title somewhere” in the book, Ilona added.
The Hidden Legacy series is on its second narrator, as Catalina became the point of view character starting with Diamond Fire, and some readers struggled to adjust to losing the viewpoint of Catalina’s older sister, Nevada, who launched the series. In Sapphire Flames, readers learn that because Nevada was overworking herself to the point of endangering her health, the Baylor family decided Catalina should become the Head of the House, removing that pressure from Nevada, but—so it appeared—ousting her from her position.
“Fans were livid,” Ilona confessed. (In our review at Den of Geek, we praised Catalina as “strikingly different” and a “fresh new voice.” Some readers have also thanked Team Andrews for writing a character who has anxiety and questions herself, rather than always being strong.) Those concerned readers may be relieved, however, to know there was more to what happened than meets the eye—there are even clues in Sapphire Flames that they might have missed—and more will be revealed in Emerald Blaze. Readers are given insight into what Nevada looks like to others, including her younger sister, who finds her a little bit scary.
“She’s older. She knows when you’re lying,” Ilona explained, which Catalina views in a far different way from Nevada herself, who thinks she’s all “sunshine and rainbows.” Changing narrators also gave the authors a chance to explore different themes. “The first arc was very much about solving murders, yes, but [it was] also politically motivated,” Ilona explained. “This one is more [about] what happens if the science goes wrong.”
Catalina’s decision to get to the bottom of the reemergence of the serum puts her back in the path of Alessandro Sagredo, whose own secrets intertwine with Catalina’s quest. Sapphire Flames left readers on a cliffhanger with Alessandro; readers got a glimpse into his perspective, revealing his true feelings for Catalina and giving the barest peek into the dangerous revenge mission that drives him.
The truth behind his back story “all comes out” in Emerald Blaze, Gordon promised—so readers can rest assured that Catalina won’t trust a man she believes toyed with her emotions without discovering his motives. As the story follows Catalina embracing her role as Head of the House, as well as the secret Deputy Warden enforcing order in the magical community, it doesn’t leave the roots of solving a murder mystery behind—the mystery just becomes more of a subplot.
Catalina’s arc will continue beyond Emerald Blaze into a third and final book, but readers who love the Hidden Legacy world are sure to hope for more books, perhaps from the perspective of another major character. On their website, the Andrews team revealed that they’d love to do a story from the perspective of Catalina’s cousin Leon; fans have also wondered if Nevada and Catalina’s younger sister, Arabella, will star in her own trilogy.
“If this goes well, and if Avon wants to continue, I really think the next three would be Arabella,” Gordon agreed. The Andrews team also shared that the personalities of Catalina and Arabella are loosely based on their own daughters. The younger daughter, on whom Arabella is based, has said to her parents, “Everybody wants me,” Gordon shared. (Ilona, quoting her daughter, continued: “The public wants what the public wants.”)
Arabella, who is “often wrong, but never in doubt,” according to Gordon, would be a totally different character to write for the authors, but would grant an entirely new lens into the world for devoted readers. Fans of Ilona Andrews, especially those who have enjoyed delving into the alternate Hidden Legacy world, are sure to hope the series will continue—and will be eagerly awaiting Emerald Blaze’s publication next summer.
In the meantime, here’s the official synopsis:
Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, continues her spellbinding series set in the Hidden Legacy world where magic controls everything…except the hearts of those who wield it.
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 is scheduled to be released on August 25th. You can pre-order it now.