JOINT REVIEW: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews
Janine: I’ve been reviewing the Hidden Legacy series since the first book appeared and with Wildfire, Sirius joined me. We had so much fun that when the ARCs for Ilona Andrews’s new novella in the series, Diamond Fire, were made available, reviewing it together again was a no-brainer.
Now for the plot summary. Rogan and Nevada are about to marry, but while the preparations for Rogan and Nevada’s wedding are underway, the Sealight, a tiara with a rare aquamarine, passed down from earlier generations for the brides in Rogan’s family to wear at the wedding, is stolen.
Rogan’s mother asks Catalina, Nevada’s eighteen-year-old sister, to investigate the houseguests—all members of Rogan’s family on his mother’s side. But to find the Sealight, Catalina will have to navigate a number of pitfalls.
Since the book is only a short novella, it is hard to discuss it without spoilers, so from here on out the review will contain some. We have hidden the biggest of these.
I liked Catalina; she was smart and vulnerable and also, ethical in the way she went about the use of her powers, which were easy to abuse and could leak out without her conscious desire. Her dilemma with regard to those powers was plausible and interesting. The description of the use of her powers as natural, like the unfolding of wings, and of how much she had to strain herself *not* to use them, was lovely.
What did you think of her, Sirius?
Sirius: I was very eager to read and review Diamond Fire with you too.
I read on the author’s blog that the story would be a transition point of sort from the trilogy where Nevada was the main character to the books which would feature her sisters and her cousin as main leads (I think the third book will be mostly about Leon but I cannot be sure). I also read that Diamond Fire would have two narrators, Nevada and then Catalina for the larger part of the story, so I was prepared for that.
I was not prepared however for how much Catalina and Nevada sounded alike and I was disappointed by that. I have not reread the previous books so maybe I would have changed my mind if I’d done that, but I know for sure that when Catalina takes over the narration, if it was not marked as such I would have missed it. Of course very quickly we realize that because the character is doing different things and not getting married but I was still hoping for more distinct voice for Catalina.
Janine: That’s a good point, that Catalina’s voice wasn’t markedly different from Nevada’s. I mostly felt the differences through their different personalities and places in life–Catalina is younger and not as tough as Nevada, at least not yet. But in terms of the language, their voices were very similar.
Sirius: Oh yes, definitely, I agree that Catalina’s personality shines through so eventually you can distinguish them based on that.
I still liked Catalina of course – very much in fact for all the reasons you described. I already liked her as a supporting character and I think she will be a very capable lead. Speaking about ethical use of her powers – I actually liked Catalina’s way of using her magic way more than Nevada’s. I also wanted to ask you, Janine – as you said what Catalina managed to do in this book with her powers was very cool, but did you think the way her powers worked changed pretty significantly in comparison to what we knew before?
In other words, at some point she remarks that she is now like Nevada and I was disappointed because it makes me worry that the ethical dilemmas she will face in her book will be similar to Nevada’s, and to me making people follow her because they loved her is very very different from how she used her powers in this story.
Janine: In answer to your question about how the uses of her power changed–yes, although the problem area with that was a different one for me.
I am not that worried that her ethical dilemmas will be the same as Nevada’s, though. The issue for Catalina (so far, at least) is that she doesn’t trust her powers not to leak out even when she knows she shouldn’t use them. I expect she’ll be in a romantic relationship in the later book (there were some hints about this), so I think that could be one of her big challenges, and it’s quite different from anything Nevada had to deal with.
Despite my issue with her powers being different in this book, I liked that she discovered how to work with them. That aspect of the book (not so much the powers themselves, but Catalina’s newness to them) was very appealing to me. But without a strong romantic element like the one we had in the earlier books, I was less engaged here than I had been in the Nevada / Rogan stories. How did you feel about that?
Sirius: Do you mean you were less engaged because you wanted a romantic element to be present and it was not there or because the mystery plot was not satisfying on its own? Because to me it is the latter. I didn’t expect there to be a romantic element yet for Catalina – it’s a transitional story and usually their heroines tend to be several years older than eighteen when they find love. Don’t get me wrong – I would not have minded and probably even loved it – but I didn’t come to this novella expecting romance other than to hear about the wedding. I was expecting a mystery investigation and to be honest I was not completely happy with it either.
I mean I liked the set up for the mystery. I thought that making Catalina an offer to take care of it made perfect sense – as she says she worked for their agency since she was twelve and putting an eighteen year old who has experience and who is joining the family soon in charge of this investigation felt believable to me.
I also liked that she took some steps investigating it, it all worked for me. I cannot quite explain though why overall it felt clunky to me. One thought I had is because I really could not give a damn about vast majority of the family members whom Catalina was investigating and so whether they did or did not do it did not really matter to me. So yes, I was less engaged with this book than with the Nevada / Rogan stories but this world is so rich, with more and more interesting magic coming on the pages that I was still engaged enough. Which new magic user impressed you the most where their powers are concerned?
Janine: So, to answer your first question, I didn’t expect a romance in this novella, so maybe it’s more the second? But let me put it this way–the novella felt slighter to me, compared to the substance of the Hidden Legacy novels and even some of the Kate Daniels novellas. I think it’s because I didn’t feel the events I was reading about were truly important events in Catalina’s life to the same extent as I did with Nevada and her books. Does that make sense?
With regard to Rogan’s relatives–yes, I agree.
As for which new magic user impressed me most… I’m a little stumped to be honest, because I have the feeling I’m forgetting someone. But from those I remember, the thief. You?
Sirius: I love this – I think this is a perfect explanation that the events didn’t feel important to Catalina. But they should have been – this is her sister’s wedding and making sure she gets through it unscathed means a world to her and her family. I also think that the problem that Catalina was hired to investigate initially really didn’t feel like a mystery with high emotional stakes if that makes sense. I know the tiara was supposed to have a symbolic meaning and was crazy expensive but it didn’t feel high stakes to me. Then the stakes went up of course but it all felt muddled together and as I said previously a bit clunky to me.
I was most impressed with Runa. Seems like such a useful skill to have while living in that world.
Janine: Yes, I agree. Whether or not the Sealight was found wasn’t all that important to Nevada’s happiness. It was more important to Rogan’s mother but she is a new character so I wasn’t all that invested in her.
Runa’s powers were very impressive and as you say, useful.
Did you have any favorite section in this novella? Mine was a scene in which Catalina wrestled with herself.
Sirius: I liked that scene absolutely – shows a lot of emotional growth. I am not sure – I think I liked the argument over the blue lilacs. I love the bond between the sisters even when they bicker.
Janine: What did you think of the resolution to the story? I liked that a loose end was wrapped up but I felt that the resolution to the tiara theft was anticlimactic.
Sirius: Yes and no. On one hand I do agree that it was anticlimactic but on the other I kinda think it fits since the beginning didn’t have high stakes for me either.
What’s your grade Janine?
I am going with B- and looking forward to the next book.
Janine: We are on the same page. It’s a B- for me too.