Steph's Rating: 4 stars
Overall: 4 stars
Publication Date: November 19th, 2013
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.
Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.
Don't get me wrong, I loved The Fiery Heart. But this is the one time in a Richelle Mead book that I felt like something was...lacking, hence the 4 and not usual 5 I usually give her books. There was lots of cleverness in the writing, and hell yeah lots of romance (OMG Sydrian <3), but I felt like there was a very important element missing: and that is action.
In the aftermath of Sydney's decision to remain in Palm Springs with the mindset of changing the Alchemists--from the inside--, trouble still doesn't seem to end for her. Her younger sister and future Alchemist galore Zoe is in town to "help Sydney with her Alchemist duties". Obviously, this puts a lovely dent in her relationship with Adrian, as well as all of the other Moroi and dhampirs that Sydney have come to like. It also doesn't help that Sydney has her witchcraft, something she must hide on top of everything else. Newly broken free of the Alchemist tattoo compulsion, she also must face the challenge of discovering exactly how the indigo spell works, in order to topple the Alchemists.
If anything, I hate Zoe, and trust me, you will too. The stupid wench just can't get over herself and wants to be the perfect little Alchemist--all to get more parental attention compared to "ideal Sydney (hah!)". Even though she's family to Sydney, she really doesn't act like it. And she's a pawn to her father, and doesn't even realize it. It seems that intelligence doesn't necessarily run in families, because Zoe was so naive in comparison to Sydney. All she does is stir up trouble and get in the way of everything that fans hope for. RM created a wonderful character for us to hate on :)
When Richelle Mead said TFH was going to be a pretty dark book, she wasn't kidding. Adrian and Sydney spend the length of this book discovering who they are and what they actually care about, and most definitely go through difficult times, especially Adrian. He's combating his alcoholism but at the same time the darkness that comes with the use of spirit--which is something he also feels addicted to. In his darkest moments of relapse though, Sydney has to be there to pull him back from the edges of madness. But this is what makes their relationship strong.
So onward to the Sydrian moments. TFH is hot, yet heartfelt. More so than Shadow Kiss of Vampire Academy, and I think Sydney and Adrian may be my favorite couple over Rose and Dimitri. It has to do with the dual POV's (which RM executed wonderfully), and that we can see into both of the protagonist's minds and feel how much they need each other. You can tell how much Adrian and Sydney have to support each other to make their relationship work. We get double the feels, fyi.
Everything was perfect, except the action. While TFH is NOT a filler book, it just wasn't as exciting as the other installments. There is a lot of character development during this book that I'm sure is a necessary preamble for the events in Silver Shadows, but that takes away from action. Sydney and Adrian spend all their time in this book being molded into their new selves, and also finding out the mystery of the tattoos, that we don't see a lot of incidents or whatnot.
I was so happy that we got to see the old character in this book; I missed their input. They don't get as much of a cameo as I expected, but there was this awesome scene with Abe. I love the guy, and not just because he's hilarious. He actually gives some good advice to Sydney instead of threatening her for once, and Abe is a much deeper character than his flippant yet mobster portrayal from before.
RM also apologized for the ending. Yes, this is the huge game changer in the series, but I actually wasn't that surprised by it like how I was in the ending of Shadow Kiss. I suppose if you read into the situation, it's pretty easy to tell what is going to happen and it doesn't hurt as much when it does. I'm not trying to kill myself over this cliffy, and its more of an annoyance than anything because we have another half year to wait. With everything that's been happening at Palm Springs, I thought the way it ended was bound to happen at some point and it was just more of a matter of just when.
Since TFH was a calm before the storm type of book, I know that Silver Shadows will be packed with the action I love. I know that Adrian is really going to bloom in the next book too. I can't wait for the sequel!