The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)
Razorbill (Penguin Books Aus)
Read from my TBR pile
Please note this review will contain general ***SPOILERS*** for the Vampire Academy series and the previous books in the Bloodlines series.
Sydney has been brought up a certain way. She’s the daughter of an Alchemist and she’s an Alchemist herself. The teachings are strict and there’s no room for arguments. Vampires – be they Moroi or Strigoi – are evil creatures of the night. The unholy offspring of Moroi and humans (dhampirs) are as well. But recently, Sydney has begun to change her views. Time spent with the dhampir Rose Hathaway has made Sydney begin to question all she has been told. Rose isn’t evil, nor is she unnatural. In fact, she’s almost what Sydney would call a friend. And now Sydney is posing as a sister to a Moroi Princess, Jill Mastrano Dragomir, keeping her safe and her sister Queen Vasilisa Dragomir on the throne. She’s also posing as a sister to the dhampir Guardian Eddie. And of course, she’s in constant contact with the Moroi vampire Adrian Ivashkov who is making Sydney feel some very disturbing things that she’s not supposed to feel for evil dark creatures of the night.
Sydney is tracking Marcus Finch, a former Alchemist who is believed to have defected. The Alchemists deny that he even exists – defection is not an option in that organisation. But Sydney isn’t convinced and when she undertakes a series of tasks to find out whether or not the Alchemists are lying to her, her entire world is rocked. After all if they’re denying the existence of not only Marcus but also a mysterious group whom Sydney recently tangled with, what else are they lying to her about? Sydney begins to feel very conflicted – she’s been ingrained with loyalty to the Alchemists almost since she was born. But there are too many things for her to ignore here.
Sydney is also coming to terms with her growing ability to wield magic – something that she’s always believed was wrong and unnatural as well. But her instructor is carefully cultivating her power and this time it comes with a warning. Sydney needs to be prepared because her talent makes her a target for a witch who drains power and talent from others, leaving them comatose. Sydney undertakes the task to discover where this witch is in order for her instructor to deal with her, but that isn’t without its own complications. She has Adrian Ivashkov willing to help her every step of the way. But if Sydney is conflicted about the Alchemists and their teachings, that’s nothing compared to what she is about Adrian.
I’m a little bit conflicted about the Bloodlines series. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the heck out of these books. I’m glad that we’re getting further into this world and that even though Rose’s story is mostly over now, she still pops up every now and then. I like Sydney because of her differences to Rose and I wanted Adrian Ivashkov to get his happy ending too, after he had his heart broken in Last Sacrifice. However, I am beginning to realise that while these books satisfy me whilst I’m reading them, after I’ve put them down, I begin thinking things. I feel like that they’re avoiding big moments and big conflict. There’s still so much we don’t know and sometimes it feels like the plot is superficial in comparison to some of the things we should be learning.
For starters, Jill. Let’s talk about Jill for a minute. She’s not the main character here, but the whole series exists because of a need to keep her safe and Lissa the Queen. She was attacked and is now bonded to Adrian but that hasn’t been explored in a satisfactory way for me. I understand Sydney’s horror when she realises that Jill is privy to any intimate moments between her and Adrian and her reluctance to engage with him because of that (there are other reasons, but that one bothers her). Jill is about 15 or 16, Adrian is about 21 or 22. The two of them are at different stages from what they want out of relationships and it is uncomfortable to realise that your most intimate moments are being witnessed by a teenage Princess whom you might care about, but don’t actually know that well. Also, we are really needing Jill and Lissa to interact at some stage in this series, unless Richelle Mead plans to leap from Sydney to Jill some time down the track. Because the two have barely spoken and it seems to be basically ignored that Jill enabled Lissa to be Queen, was murdered because of it and has now been thrust to the other side of the country and ignored, all in the name of keeping her safe. I need some plot development here, rather than a vague sentence every book about Lissa attempting to change the family member rule.
Moving onto Adrian, dude recovers fast. It wasn’t that long ago that Rose was the love of his life but it seems like the minute he got to Palm Springs, he was all Rose? Huh? Who’s Rose? Now I want him to be happy, I like him. He’s funny and decent – I just didn’t like him for Rose. But I mentioned in my review of The Golden Lily that his affections transfer to Sydney so fast my head almost spun. I think it’s better played out in this book – I actually get more of a sense of Sydney’s conflicting emotions about being attracted to a vampire and I get more of Adrian’s inner despair at falling once again, for someone who isn’t the easy option. Rose was still in love with Dimitri (and Adrian makes a joke in this book that goes something along the lines of: with Rose I only had to overcome her all encompassing love for a Russian mobster. With you it’s just hundreds of years of being taught to fear and loathe us). I also think that with Sydney, Adrian is a better person (Moroi? whatever). He’s more her equal, whereas with Rose, he was always very much the weaker partner. With Sydney, Adrian is more able to have her back and be useful. He can help her and sometimes he can protect her. I think this is probably important to him. In Vampire Academy, Adrian was the guy who didn’t want to get involved. He didn’t want to help in any of the crazy schemes. He just wanted to coast through life, chilling out, drinking, smoking, chatting up pretty girls. In Bloodlines, he has matured and he’s more involved. He wants to be a part of it. And if Sydney is going somewhere, he wants to accompany her.
But the thing is, I still really do enjoy the books. I think I would read Richelle Mead’s grocery list I enjoy her writing so much. But I just think I need a little more depth from this series, a little more with people that aren’t Sydney or Adrian but less with Angeline, who drives me kind of nuts. And Sydney’s sister turning up right at the end of this book didn’t exactly fill me with joy, either. I want more with Jill. And I do want more with Sydney and Adrian too, exploring that connection and really getting into the two sides of Sydney: the one that does and believes what she’s told and the one that’s coming to terms with being lied to and things not being as they seem. I think this book was a good start for that and I’m pretty interested in what The Fiery Heart will hold. I do like Sydney’s development of her magic. It helps her accept that these forces or abilities don’t have to be evil and further reinforce that not everything is so black and white. Bloodlines is a good series but for me, it’s not yet a great one.
Book #233 of 2013