Silver Shadows (Review)

Title: Silver Shadows

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2014

Pages: 416

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: Borrowed from Amy

From the cover:

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

(This is the fifth book in the Bloodlines series, after Bloodlines, The Golden LilyThe Indigo Spell, and The Fiery Heart.)

Reading this book was seriously intense. It was like all the bad things that could possibly happen to Adrian and Sydney did happen. It was actually rather painful to read, particularly the bits in the beginning where Sydney is basically imprisoned and is not even allowed her own clothes.

It was also really hard to watch Adrian fall apart and revert to his old bad habits. It had been so great to see his behaviour and thoughts improve over the past few books as Sydney helped him to get on his feet. So it was difficult to see what happened to him in her absence.

There was a certain point in Silver Shadows where things started to look up, and it felt really cathartic for everyone involved. I’m really looking forward to the release of the final book in the series so we can see the end of the story.

Rating:

The Fiery Heart (Review)

Title: The Fiery Heart

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2013

Pages: 438

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version purchased from Kobo Books

From the cover:

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.

(This is the fourth book in the Bloodlines series, after Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, and The Indigo Spell.)

By the beginning of this book, I’d really gotten to like Sydney. And I really like her and Adrian together. So it was a bit sad to see her having to hide their relationship when her sister showed up, and even more sad to see the way that Zoe has been completely brainwashed by the Alchemists. I mean, I know that Sydney was sort of like that the first time she came up in Blood Promise, but she never felt as hardline as Zoe comes across in The Fiery Heart. And her father? Oh, man. I was cringing every time he was onscreen during this book.

So many things happen, but the craziest is right at the end. I don’t want to spoil it, but just … it’s crazy. Really. And when I finished reading this book, I was pissed that I had broken my unofficial rule about not reading series that are still in progress, because it meant that I had to wait months until the next installment was scheduled to come out so that I could find out what happened next.

Rating:

The Indigo Spell (Review)

Title: The Indigo Spell

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2013

Pages: 416

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version purchased from Kobo Books

From the cover:

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch — a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood — or else she might be next.

I was really excited for this book, for the things that were coming up for Sydney. I love the angle of the relationship between her and Adrian, and I love even more the way that she seems to be able to learn magic. It’s interesting to watch her struggle with whether she should or not, but I’m loving the storyline just as it is.

The Indigo Spell seems to me to be the defining line of when Sydney is actually starting to break away from the Alchemists. She’s been putting some distance there already, between her and their overly rigid dogma, but this is just taking it one step farther.

This book is the turning point for the series. I feel like everything’s going to get a bit crazy from here, as Sydney tries to escape, and her relationship with Adrian progresses. And I’m looking forward to reading about it.

Rating:

The Golden Lily (Review)

Title: The Golden Lily

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2012

Pages: 448

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version purchased from Kobo Books

From the cover:

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California — tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age-old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi — the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that — special, magical, powerful — that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else — someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists — or her heart?

(This is the second book in the Bloodlines series, after Bloodlines.)

I really liked the direction that the series took with this book. For starters, I enjoyed getting to see a bit more of the Alchemist structure, when Sydney went to one of the centres to attend services. Also, though, I was a bit shocked – but in a good way! – when Sydney started studying magic. It was unexpected, and started to shift her opinions on so many things.

The Golden Lily was, for me, the defining moment when I decided that the Bloodlines spin-off series might be as good as the Vampire Academy series books. The characters really start to have some chemistry together here, and everyone’s starting to get more comfortable with Sydney as a friend (and sort of den mother) than as an Alchemist.

Rating:

Bloodlines (Review)

Title: Bloodlines

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 448

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version purchased from Kobo Books

From the cover:

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive — this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.

I wasn’t originally sure that I wanted to read this spin-off series. I loved the characters in the Vampire Academy series, and I knew that Bloodlines was moving on to different points of view. While I liked those characters well enough when they came up earlier, I wasn’t at all sure that I liked them enough to read stories written from their point of view. But a friend convinced me that the other characters would still play important roles in the series, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I’m glad that I did. I grew to love Sydney and Adrian even more in this book than I ever had before, and I understood their characters and motivation more. They were great choices for the new narrators, opening up the series to explore new issues and stay fresh. They also allowed for a slightly older feel to the series, as the story was no longer being told from the point of view of a teenager, even though they were still “attending” high school.

Bloodlines is a great book for the start of the spin-off series. It has just enough action and romance to keep the reader interested, and plants the seeds for lots of intriguing things to come.

Rating:

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