[Book Review] Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

I’m a long-time fan of author duo Ilona Andrews. The Kate Daniels series is one of my all time favorites, and a go-to whenever recommending Urban Fantasy books to people new to the genre.

(Actually, Ilona once said nice things to me about my first pages. You can read my fan-girling here)

Ilona Andrews books are on my auto-buy list, and I’ve enjoyed their venture into paranormal romance with the Hidden Legacy series. The first three books are all about Nevada and Mad Rogan and are definitely worth a read. (I’m still parsing through how I feel about Rogan tying up Nevada and interrogating her in book one, but I’ll let it go…)

Book Four, Sapphire Flames, is from a new MC perspective, Nevada’s little sister, Catalina. I don’t always love spin off characters, and I was nervous I wouldn’t enjoy the read. Often the new set characters fall flat compared to the original set, or they feel like a continuation of the first set, just with different names.

But Sapphire Flames really delivers. Catalina is a great main character, with her own personality, interests, and perspectives. Her story is interesting, and the world – developed through books 1-3 in the Hidden Legacy series – is as fascinating as ever. And in true Ilona Andrews fashion, the romance thread is strong, and slow burning, while the plot carries the weight of the story and keeps you turning pages.

The series premise is a kinda like Veronica Mars with magic. In a world where the magic elite get away with murder–assuming they’ve filed the right paperwork–the OG MC (original main character) Nevada Baylor is a magically out-powered underdog. Surrounded by a cast of lovable and quirky family members, Nevada tries to hold together their family PI business. But she keeps being pulled into problems above her weight class, because Nevada can’t stop herself from helping other people in need. Ultimately, their involvement comes with a price, and the truth about the Baylor family history and their magic soon surfaces.

The world building is one of the most interesting things about this novel. The magical elite have formed dynasties, making alliances and selectively match-making the next generation to further their specific type of magic powers, building wealth and influence. Andrews does an amazing job immersing the reader in the politics between the families which leads more than once to outright magical warfare complete with heir own rules of engagement.

You’ll want to start with books 1-3 to get the full understanding of the world and the character set, but book 4 lives up to the (admittedly high) expectations of an Ilona Andrews read. If you liked the Kate Daniels series, or the Innkeeper Chronicles, give this series a try.

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