Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)
Penguin Books AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Please note this review will contain general ***SPOILERS*** for the Bloodlines series, in particular the ending of the 4th novel, The Fiery Heart.
Alchemist Sydney Sage has been taken, kidnapped by the other alchemists so that she can undergo a vigorous ‘reprogramming’ after her own sister reported her for the relationships she was developing with the Moroi and Dhampirs she was currently assigned to – in particular her relationship with Adrian Ivashkov.
The alchemists tell the Moroi that Sydney has merely been ‘reassigned’ but Adrian knows this isn’t the case. They’ve taken her and he knows they’ll stop at nothing to turn her back into the type of robot they prefer, one that disdains his kind. If they are to have any kind of future together, he must find her. And soon. But how? The Moroi can’t help – Sydney isn’t under their jurisdiction and they can’t sanction the alchemists for disciplining or reassigning one of their own. Adrian has no idea where Sydney could possibly be or how he’s going to be able to find her. And if he does find her, which is virtually an impossibility as the alchemists keep their secrets tightly guarded, then how will he rescue her? And what happens if he manages to succeed?
For Sydney, daily life has become almost unbearable but she must be strong. She must hold onto the idea of Adrian and the love that the two of them have and not allow the alchemists to break her. They can starve her, drug her, humiliate her and attempt to brainwash her and she must, on the outside, portray a broken woman who knows what she has done wrong but on the inside, she must be strong. Ready for the smallest, slightest opportunity. Because Sydney Sage remembers who she is and who she loves and try as they might, no one is going to take that from her.
The Bloodlines series was a slow start for me but the fourth book really booted things up a gear and the ending, although not unpredictable was so emotional and terrible that the countdown to this book started immediately. In an interview with Penguin Teen AU, Richelle Mead described Silver Shadows in one word as intense. And she is really not wrong. Especially the second half of the book – I think I was on the edge of my seat for what felt like hours, frantically reading. And kudos to Mead because she had me so invested in the action that I totally missed what was coming at the end of the book. A great technique.
Readers have fallen in love with Sydney and Adrian and I think this book will break a lot of hearts in both good ways and bad ways. Sydney is kidnapped by the alchemists so that they can ‘reprogram’ her basically as she’s started to see the Moroi and Dhampirs not as monsters but as friends, and in Adrian’s case, a lover. This goes against everything the alchemists believe in and the idea of it is so repugnant to them that they can’t stand it. Interestingly, Sydney finds a few sympathetic fellow-inmates in her incarceration, which suggests that she’s definitely not alone in shirking the strict ideals. Adrian and Sydney seemed so ill suited at the end of Vampire Academy and although for me, it took a few books, I think there’s been a real crafting of their evolving relationship. Both of them have struggled with things – Sydney with her duty as an alchemist and her loyalty. Adrian with his spirit madness and also with his place in the world. He’s slowly begun coming into his own in this series and he really steps up yet again in this book (after a brief fall off the wagon that he was probably entitled to). He recruits people to help him, he searches for Sydney, he plans, he basically pulls out all the stops to ensure that he can get her back and her future safety is always paramount for him. It’s hard not to love Proactive and Protective Adrian who is a long way from the slacker that stepped back and looked the other way in the past.
I think the one thing that has kind of disappointed me in these books has been the role of Lissa and Jill – I know this is Sydney’s story but she’s helping with the protection of Jill and there’s been little more than a few vague “Lissa is trying to change the rule” mentions that’s been going on for quite a while now. I wouldn’t be surprised if this series is working in nicely to setting up to spinning off for Jill getting her own books, so if that is road Richelle Mead is heading down, there’s still plenty left that she can do with this world. We’ve always seen Lissa through Rose’s eyes and I think instead seeing her through Sydney and Adrian’s does result in a big difference to how she comes across. I want to see more of Lissa as Queen and how she’s coping with that and what she’s doing exactly. So far I haven’t seen much that inspires a lot of confidence in her reign, to be honest.
However, back to Adrian and Sydney and this is a huge book for them. So much changes here and they really do enter a new level both in themselves and their inner strength and also in their relationship. That’s not to say that it’s going to get easier – in fact it seems like it’ll only get harder in the sixth book. They still have a lot to deal with and I think it’s going to be a wild ride – can’t wait to read it.
Book #140 of 2014