By Isaac Feldberg
May 30, 2018 at 02:57 PM EDT
Credit: Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images

Bond is back — and for the devil-may-care super spy’s latest literary outing, so is ace British novelist Anthony Horowitz.

Forever and a Day will hit stateside shelves later this year, marking Horowitz’s second outing with the famed MI6 agent. Three years ago, he penned Trigger Mortis, a well-received sequel to Goldfinger that he was commissioned to write by the Fleming estate.

And exclusive to EW, he’s revealed the US cover for the highly anticipated novel, an official prequel to Casino Royale that takes place around two or three months before that inaugural Ian Fleming novel.

Though Fleming alludes to Bond’s early days in Casino Royale, Horowitz sensed a thrilling opportunity to break new ground in expanding upon the story of how the secret agent earned his 00 license to kill.

“It’s really an exploration of what turns Bond into the hard-edged, quite cold-blooded assassin that we sort of know from the books,” the British novelist tells EW. “What are the forces that mold him?”

Of course, this is James Bond, so one such force comes in the form of a beautiful woman, an “older, more experienced person” by the playful name of Madame Sixtine, who plays a key role in expanding the young Bond’s horizons. “The book is almost a love story,” teases the author. “At heart, there’s a big element of romance in it, but of course it’s also a thriller and a character study.”

Horowitz is perhaps best known for the young adult Alex Rider novels, as well as for creating TV series Foyle’s War and penning murder mysteries like the New York Times best-seller Magpie Murders. In preparing to return to the world of Bond, he leaned on his lifelong love of the property.

“It was enormous fun,” Horowitz says of settling back in with the secret agent. “I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. Trigger Mortis did so well and I was so pleased with the result of that, that it was a thrill to be asked a second time — and also a surprise because, before that, until [the Fleming estate] came to me, they’d been changing the writer every year, or every book at least. They came back for a second helping. I felt very privileged and happy.”

In hatching the story line for Forever and a Day, Horowitz says he particularly relished coming up with fresh action sequences in which to place the enduring secret agent. “There’s one in particular, in a factory in the south of France, which I think is probably the most violent chapter ever written in a Bond novel,” he teases, adding that “readers will be very surprised by what happens in it.”

Check out the Forever and a Day cover below, and pre-order the book ahead of its November 2019 release here.

Credit: Harper