JOINT REVIEW: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews
Since Sirius and I are both big fans of this series, we decided to review book three together. -Janine
Wildfire, the third book in Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series, begins shortly after the ending of White Hot. On her abrupt return from her romantic getaway with Rogan to inform her family that her dangerous grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, has discovered them, Nevada is confronted with an unpleasant surprise.
Sitting in her kitchen is Rynda Charles, Rogan’s ex-fiancée and the daughter of Olivia Charles, whose death Nevada’s last investigation led to. But despite these two huge conflicts of interest, Rynda is there to retain Baylor Investigative Agency, Nevada’s business, to look into the recent disappearance of her husband Brian.
Brian, who uses his magic to grow mushrooms with medicinal properties, went to work three days earlier and never came back. Because he has a track record of disappearing when things get difficult for him, the police refused to investigate. But he has never before been gone this long, so Rynda believes there is something more sinister behind his vanishing.
Grandma Frida warns Nevada not to take the case. Rynda is the clingy type and was once engaged to Rogan. Not only that, but they have known each other since childhood. If Nevada becomes involved, so will Rogan. Does Nevada really want to take the chance that she will lose him? But because Rynda has no one else to turn to, Nevada takes the case anyhow.
After Rynda leaves, Nevada tells her family of the danger posed by Victoria Tremaine and proposes that they petition to become House Baylor. A contentious discussion follows, a vote is taken, and the plan wins most of the family’s support. It’s decided that Nevada, Bernard and Catalina’s powers will be tested, while Arabella’s power must be kept secret for her own safety.
Victoria attempts to stop the petition, but arrives too late. Now she cannot legally take custody of Nevada and her siblings, but she might still try by indirect, illegal means.
The investigation into Brian’s disappearance reveals that Brian’s brother, Edward Sherwood, is in love with Rynda, but has done nothing to Brian. Soon afterward, Nevada finds evidence that Brian was kidnapped, and Rynda hears from the kidnappers, who have a connection to her late mother, Olivia.
The kidnappers demand a file of Olivia’s, but won’t identify it beyond that, and Rynda can’t locate the file, if indeed it exists. When, shortly afterward, Rynda doesn’t answer her phone, Nevada is concerned enough to take Cornelius with her to Rynda’s house. There they find dead security guards and summoned creatures—as well as a confrontation with villains.
Besides these problems, Nevada must also face the dangerous people that Victoria Tremaine throws in her path, Rogan’s fury at them, Rynda’s connection to Rogan, and Garen Shaffer, a Prime Truthseeker whose genetic compatibility with Nevada is assured by DNA tests.
The novel also offers us Leon’s reaction to the discovery of his magical power, the reveal of Arabella’s magical power, a summoned creature named Zeus, a sentient, pacifist bear named Sergeant Teddy, and of course, the next chapter in Rogan and Nevada’s romance.
All of this makes for an exciting, entertaining book with a lot of fast-paced action and satisfying resolutions to multiple conflicts.
Going into Wildfire, I was worried (based on the back cover copy) that this book might be similar to Magic Rises, the Kate Daniels book that is not a favorite of mine for the way Kate doubted Curran’s love for her.
Readers need not worry about that—while Nevada and Rogan are human enough to have fears, they do a good job of communicating about them, setting boundaries, and making their commitment to each other clear. Their love for each other is evident in words and in gestures.
Thanks for the great summary Janine. When you invited me to review this book, I jumped on the offer, because I was very impatient to read the last book of this trilogy. Quite honestly I was not necessarily worried about Nevada and Rogan temporarily losing faith in each other. Oh, I was definitely disappointed as to how Kate and Curran behaved in “Magic Rises,” but that was mostly because of how it was handled, not necessarily because of the conflict itself. I deeply dislike what I perceive as contrived internal conflicts in romances: break ups because of idiotic miscommunications for example, but I do not mind even long-term couples having issues if those issues seem believable to me and the couple deals with them in a way that seems convincing.
Having said that, I was very happy that Nevada and Rogan did a good job communicating with each other, absolutely.
I agree with you, actually. My problem with Magic Rises was that I thought it was contrived for Kate to believe Curran was being disloyal to her.
In Wildfire, Rynda Charles and Garen Shaffer aren’t presented as serious obstacles to Rogan and Nevada’s relationship. Instead, they serve mainly as foils that show us what Nevada and Rogan see in each other and how it would be worse for them to make genetically advantageous choices instead of choosing love—and each other.
Each member of the Baylor family gets a moment to shine in this book – from Grandma Frida and Nevada’s mom, Penelope, to sisters Arabella and Catalina and cousins Bern and Leon (Though at first I didn’t completely buy Leon’s initial response to discovering his powers, by the end of the book he was back to himself and I liked that it rounded him out a bit).
I am curious, what did you not buy about Leon’s response to his magic? The part when he was laughing or the part that required Kurt’s involvement? Because I thought that it was well handled.
It’s a bit spoilery so I’ll hide it.
And since we mentioned his magic, I want to talk about the magic in this book, something that is usually a big part of why I love reading fantasy books. I mean, I really appreciate that in Andrews’ books usually no matter how fantastic their worlds are, the human interactions are usually grounded in reality. I used to point to their books in discussions elsewhere and say that those fantasy books give me more characters that act like real human beings (or close to how human beings act, which is still good enough for me) than many contemporary romances.
But I still love magic and love learning how different fictional magic systems work and this trilogy is no exception. In this world you are either born with magical talent or you are not and we have all kinds of magical powers they possess, however what I was not sure about was whether one can advance from Significant to Prime for example. Maybe it was mentioned in the beginning of the first book but I was not able to find my paperback prior to writing this review. What did you think? I know Nevada learned a lot from the books Rogan sent her, but she was already a Prime, so I read it mostly as Prime figuring out her own power. Do you think Cornelius for example can become a Prime?
That’s a good question. Early in Wildfire, Bern says he’d like to be tested again, because he has gotten stronger since he was last tested at age ten. So I think it’s definitely possible for a character’s magic to grow, but I’m not sure if that’s related to growing up and going through puberty, or if it can also happen to an adult.
Cornelius does something pretty neat with his power in this book (I won’t spoil it) so it wouldn’t completely shock me if his power has grown. I don’t know if magic works this way or not, but in life people sometimes find hidden reserves of strength when confronted with a danger or challenge, so maybe that is happening to Cornelius.
Earlier, I was talking about how each member of the Baylor family had a moment to shine. I was going to add that even Victoria Tremaine had her moment—and though she isn’t any less amoral and dangerous than she ever was, in this book she really grew on me. She makes a delicious frenemy of sorts to the family, with all the moral ambiguity that serves to remind Nevada and the others who they don’t want to become.
Agreed, but let me ask you this (and I am only partially playing devil’s advocate here), do you think Victoria and Nevada are that much different already in how far they would go in using their powers? Because Victoria seemed to be doing everything she was doing “for the family” same as Nevada did. Obviously I don’t think Nevada is nearly there yet, but to be honest I think it is mostly because she didn’t have a reason not because she didn’t want to. And I think a glimpse of the possible things to come is how she handled the meeting with House Harcourt. Yes, of course they needed that information, but what exactly did other members of House Harcourt do to Nevada and Rogan for them to go there as they did? And the second example was in the epilogue. Oh I know that Nevada needed to be a shark to protect her family, but once again I was thinking about Victoria.
Good question. I did feel that Rogan and Nevada were a little hard on the Harcourts but
As for Victoria and Nevada, yes, I think the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree. And if the series continues, I hope that gets explored. Nevada could turn into Victoria, but she hasn’t yet. I am hoping that ultimately she makes a conscious choice—or a series of conscious choices—not to. More on that later.
That brings me to another question. Did the conspiracy and explanation for it work for you? Because after I read book two, I thought that it was as close to perfect as it comes where political backgrounds are concerned. It invoked some obvious real world associations to me, but also made perfect sense in this world, how personal motivations for each member of the conspiracy became political, etc.
After I read this book though, I started to wonder. Here is what we have – Primes have their Houses and Assembly where each House can vote according to the certain rules. Magic users, not just Primes are *kind of* subject to law enforcement, but not really because, hey, every time members of the two Houses want to go on the war path , all they need to do is to file for Verona exception and voila, law enforcement won’t lift a finger to help them. Moreover if a House member were kidnapped, the FBI apparently won’t lift a finger either (not that I blame them based on why they decided not to do it anymore). I am sure if I think more about it, I will come up with more examples.
The point I am trying to make is that while I understand that the Assembly is supposed to be their democratic body, they are already pretty much doing what they want where the law is concerned. I guess I wonder just how much destruction conspiracy members would have to do in order to implement the new order or whatever the heck they would call it.
I agree with you, all that mayhem doesn’t seem worth the reward.
I did have a few other issues, but they were mostly minor. First, I thought that Nevada’s biggest conflict of interest with Rynda was glossed over. In real life, being instrumental in the death of your client’s mother would be a bigger conflict than dating her former fiancé. On that same basis, I was also surprised that Cornelius didn’t seem to have a problem with Nevada’s decision to take this case, given that Rynda’s mother killed his wife and he killed her in return.
Sirius: I agree once again, but I thought it was to show that Nevada was a good person. After all, she had the upper hand – Rynda really had nowhere to go. Cornelius surprised me more to be honest.
Janine: I agree that was the intention with Nevada, but it read contrived to me. I thought it was odd that Nevada was more concerned about Rynda / Rogan and not at all concerned that Rynda might try to avenge her mother, or even just innocently uncover the gory details of how her mother died and then punish Cornelius somehow.
Sirius:I agree here. Maybe Nevada thought Rynda was too desperate? But I agree that it felt contrived.
Janine: Another issue I had was dropped threads. Despite the fact that the publisher’s blurb bills this as “the thrilling conclusion” to the Hidden Legacy series, some threads were left hanging. I expected a resolution to, or at least a confrontation in, the conflict between Rogan and his cousin, Kelly Waller, but this thread was dropped. We also didn’t learn the identity of “Caesar,” the head of the conspiracy, although his/her gender was revealed late in the book.
Sirius: After we heard very little about Kelly Waller in the “White Hot”, I kind of assumed that she was a villain for one book, so I was not too surprised. But not revealing Caesar’s identity *pissed me off*. Oh I know they have hinted at it and I am 99% sure that I know who this person is, but still. The books were advertised as trilogy and not revealing the main villain of the trilogy is not playing fair with the readers in my opinion.
Janine: Kelly endangered a group of children in White Hot, so I still expected her to get a comeuppance. But I wasn’t too bothered that it didn’t happen, and it’s interesting to me that not knowing who Caesar is didn’t piss me off like it did you. Maybe I’m coming to expect that not everything will be resolved in Ilona Andrews’ books, because of the dissatisfying ending of Steel’s Edge with regard to Spider.
I am curious to hear your theories on the identity of Caesar.
Janine: Hmm, good theory! In my review of White Hot I stated that in swimming in the shark-infested waters, Nevada was learning to grow her own teeth. One thing I loved in White Hot was that Nevada was confronted with moral dilemmas such as how far she would go to protect her loved ones and whether, if she crossed a line, she would still be able to stick with rule three of her moral code, “At the end of the day we have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.”
I was hoping that this question would be explored further in Wildfire, but this was mostly dropped too. Nevada defended herself and her loved ones as well as solved the mystery, but doing so did not require any morally gray actions such as the ones she took with Baranovsky and Augustine in White Hot, nor did she have to seriously think about whether or not defending her family justified going to any lengths.
Sirius:I agree and disagree. I mean, I agree that we don’t see Nevada giving some serious thinking (or any thinking I believe) as to how far she would go to protect her family, but I thought that her no hesitation use of her power meant that she just grew pretty comfortable with using it. Oh I know that she said that she didn’t want to be interrogator and that was a good thing that no law enforcement agencies would be able to force her if they become a House. But she did act as interrogator and I didn’t see her hesitating.
Nevada has to be able to survive in the vicious world of Primes, I know that and for that reason I do not downgrade the story at all, because it all makes sense to me, but once again I come back to the question just how different she is from Victoria Tremaine at her core.
Janine: I agree with all you said. She does seem to be growing comfortable with using her power, but I hope she has more occasions to question herself in the future.
Which brings me to this: I hope all of the above means is that there will be more books! This world is certainly rich and complex enough to support more books, and the Baylors are loveable, entertaining and interesting. The Houses make a great backdrop and foil for the love between the family members, and for Nevada and Rogan’s loyalty to each other. So please, Avon, let there be sequels!
Sirius: I mentioned above that the ending pissed me off, so I went to their blog as I very often do and if the book three sells well, there is a real possibility that the series will continue. If not they will write one more book and self-publish it.
I would love reading more books in this world – same as with “Kate Daniels” there are so many secondary characters I want to know more about.
Janine: That’s great news, that there will be at least one sequel! What is your final grade for this book, Sirius? White Hot is still my favorite in the series, but I liked this one almost as much. It’s another B+/A- for me.
Sirius: I will definitely read all the sequels! Same grade from me, B+/A-.