If you follow me on other social media — and I assume, at this point and given the nature of the internet these days, that most of you do — you’ll have seen that a couple of weeks ago I shared the cover and the blurb for the sequel to The Butterfly Assassin. But, just in case you didn’t, I thought I’d talk a little about it here.
(And, yes, I did mean to write this post two weeks ago, but unfortunately my health is incredibly garbage right now and I have not been very functional lately, so it’s taken me a while to get to it.)
So, book two! It’s called The Hummingbird Killer, and it comes out on May 11th, 2023 in the UK. I don’t have release dates for anywhere else; Amazon is suggesting possibly August for Australia and New Zealand, and I would imagine the French edition will come sometime in the autumn, like book one, but I have no further info on that front yet.
Here’s the cover:
And the blurb:
Teen assassin Isabel Ryans now works for Comma, and she’s good at it: the Moth is the guild’s most notorious killer, infamous throughout the city of Espera. But Isabel still craves normality, and she won’t find it inside the guild. She moves in with a civilian flatmate, Laura, and begins living a double life, one where she gets to pretend she’s free.
But when Isabel’s day job tangles her up with an anti-guild abolitionist movement, it becomes harder to keep her two lives separate. Forced to choose between her loyalty to her friends and her loyalty to Comma, she finds herself with enemies on all sides, putting herself and Laura at risk.
Can Isabel ever truly be safe in a city ruled by killers?
Now that I’ve covered the basics, let’s get on to answering some FAQs, some of which I have actually been asked, and others which I’m anticipating somebody somewhere wanting to know the answer to.
Is it a direct sequel to The Butterfly Assassin? Do I need to have read book one first?
Yes, and probably. Around two years have passed since the first book, so Isabel’s life has moved on somewhat and we’re not directly picking up the threads of any cliffhangers. I’ve also made an effort to remind readers who certain recurring characters are, and there are quite a few characters that are brand new. But events in book one still echo through this one and are referenced frequently, and we’re building on the worldbuilding foundation laid there too. That means if you’re a forgetful reader like me, it should still be okay to read without having recently refreshed your memory with a reread of book one, but if you haven’t read book one at all, you’ll probably find that you’re missing quite a lot of vital context!
Okay, but I am super forgetful and don’t remember who anyone is. Will you do a recap?
I mean, if that would be useful to people, I’m happy to do a deeply irreverent blog post catching you all up on who the characters are and what happened to them in book one. Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d be interested in.
Is this the end of the story?
No, this is the second book in a trilogy. It’s always been a trilogy in my head, and the ending of this book has been planned from the start. I’m very glad that we sold book three and I didn’t have to change it. That doesn’t mean this book doesn’t have its own arcs and goals and structure etc, but it does mean we’re working towards a larger resolution rather than wrapping everything up here.
Wait… does that mean there’s a cliffhanger?
That would be telling. (But yeah, kind of. Sorry.)
What ‘representation’ does this book have?
I feel faintly uncomfortable with breaking books down into the identities of their main characters, especially when those identities might not be clearly defined within canon or don’t map neatly onto the real world. But I will say that Isabel is much more firmly portrayed as asexual and aromantic in this book, and has more than one conversation about it with other characters; her flatmate is bisexual and aromantic, and her colleague is a Black trans man who also happens to be asexual and aromantic. There are also several other queer characters in the background, including two who use they/them pronouns. Race is a little complicated in the setting, but several characters are definitely not white.
Isabel is also still grappling with the psychological and physical impact of book one, and we see the ways she works around her chronic health issues on a daily basis, as well as her complete failure to do anything that might help her mental health. Gluten free and traumatised, that’s our girl.
Is there romance in this book?
Nope. It’s all about those platonic friendships, weird surrogate parent figures, terrible bosses, and revolutionary colleagues you accidentally end up helping achieve their illegal goals. That seems like more than enough drama, angst, and emotions to me without adding romance into the mix.
Will Isabel have a redemption arc in this book?
Good question! There’s an arc. Off a cliff. Away from redemption.
Real talk, Isabel gets worse in this book. But isn’t that the point of the middle book of a trilogy? This is where I break everything. Book three is where I’ll fix it. And I will fix it — I don’t want this to be a hopeless series — but prepare yourself for a big mess first.
How many people die in this book?
You know, I tried to keep count during the writing process, but things got a little hazy towards the end. I’m thinking minimum of fifty. Of whom Isabel killed probably a minimum of forty-seven. You know that part where I said she got worse? Yeah, so, about that…
Will [character name] come back?
Were they alive at the end of book one? They’re probably in this one. That’s really the only criterion I have, although of course that still excludes a fair number of characters.
Do we get to see more of Espera in this one?
Yes! That’s actually one thing I’m really excited about. Book one follows Isabel very closely, and her immediate priorities are things like “not dying”, so we don’t get to see too much of the city around her. Considering how long I spent developing highly specific details about the city that never made it to the page, I knew I wanted the chance to share more of it with you all! In this book, the camera really pans out to look more at Isabel’s role within the whole city, and we see different aspects of Espera, including its more revolutionary elements. So those reviewers who said they wanted to know more about the city/world, you’re in luck.
Do you have an aesthetic for this book?
I don’t make visual aesthetics (but think colourful street art and a lot of blood, like book 1) but I do have a playlist for it, and frankly, it’s full of bangers. Ignore the title of the playlist. That was the working title of the book and I haven’t been able to bring myself to change it yet; I will do so eventually.
Can I get an ARC?
There aren’t going to be any physical ARCs for this book (sad times) but it should be available on NetGalley at some point. That’s all I can tell you on that front, I’m afraid.
Are you doing a pre-order campaign?
YES, thank you so much for asking, hypothetical questioner. I am doing a pre-order campaign. If you pre-order the book and submit your receipts to this form, you will receive a digital short story set in the world of The Butterfly Assassin, a few years before the start of book one. (It’s about Emma, and to a lesser extent, Grace.) You can also enter into a draw to win an annotated copy of book one, where I will have gone through pointing out all the symbolism and foreshadowing. Frankly, that’s because I’ve wanted to do an annotated book for aaaaages and this is just an excuse, but indulge me, please. (That part is optional, though, so if you’ve already got more copies of The Butterfly Assassin than you could ever need, you can just go for the story!)
And yes, it’s open internationally. All the pre-order links that I’ve rounded up so far are on this page.
Why should I pre-order?
Other than that you want this exclusive short story which will not be posted anywhere else? Because pre-orders really help authors! Even if we’re not the kind of bestsellers who are shooting for thousands of first-week sales and an appearance in every bestseller chart known to man (and I can assure you I’m not), they help signal to booksellers that there’s interest in a title, so that they’ll stock it, which increases the chances that other people will buy it. Or they’ll give it that much-needed boost up the online charts, which again, gives it more visibility and helps others to discover it. Plus, it reassures your local author that people like them, and we authors are deeply insecure and need to be reassured in as many ways as possible at all times.
Pre-orders might not save lives but they definitely bring a spark of joy into the world, and why wouldn’t you want to bring a spark of joy into the world? Do it. It’s a present to your future self. Your future self will thank you (and so will I).
I think that’s everything, but if you have any further questions about the book, please drop ’em in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. It’s now less than 2.5 months until it comes out, so it’s time to start getting excited! :)
And remember, you can always find all the information (including content warnings and buy links) about my books on the ‘Books’ page here.
Edit: I just noticed that The Butterfly Assassin is on sale for 99p on Kindle UK (affiliate link), so this is a great time to buy it if you haven’t already jumped on this particular bandwagon!