The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6)
Penguin Books AUS
Purchased personal copy
Their romance has been exposed and everyone knows now that former Alchemist Sydney Sage and Moroi vampire Adrian Ivashkov are married. They’re hiding out at court under the protection of the Queen Lissa but it’s an existence that’s beginning to take it’s toll on Sydney. She misses the sun and fresh air. She tends to keep to their suite, aware that most around her regard her with suspicion….or hunger.
The vampire princess and Lissa’s half sister Jill Dragomir was kidnapped and so far their investigations have turned up nothing. They don’t know who has Jill or why. When Sydney’s old magic instructor turns up with information, Sydney knows she has to escape the royal compound and do everything she can to find Jill, even if it means leaving Adrian behind. Adrian it seems, is busy with his own puzzle about spirit magic which leads him on a quest to find someone who could change everything they’ve ever known about Moroi and dhampir and change their entire future.
I know that you can be overwhelemed. And you can be underwhelmed. But can you ever be just….whelmed?
And so I am conflicted. I’ll be honest. It took the Bloodlines a long time to convince me. I think it was well into the third book before I began to feel that the series may have some sort of merit and the fourth and fifth were enjoyable (but I still had issues). This is the final book in this series and I was expecting explosion. Awesome reveals. This does not feel in the same vein as Last Sacrifice. This reads almost like fan fiction.
I’ll start with Jill, considering her disappearance was apparently the thing this entire book was constructed around. Jill was always a secondary character with basically no development whatsoever between Bloodlines and Silver Shadows when Sydney and Adrian learn she’s been taken. Therefore, I don’t really care about her and who has her because I never got any of the Jill stuff I wanted to see and that was her relationship with Lissa. She was banished from Court and all we got each book was a few vague lines about Lissa changing the rule that said a reining monarch must have a living relative. This book doesn’t give us much either. We are still yet to get an actual scene between Lissa and Jill. I don’t know if Mead plans to return to this world later and use Jill as her next protagonist but a scene between the two sisters was, I believe, a necessary part of being able to connect with this story line at all. Also in the end who had Jill was kind of boring and made little sense because we pretty much did this plot already about four books ago, with someone else.
Secondly. Adrian and Sydney. I took a long time to get on board here too and although I ended up being okay with them, I felt as though this book they took a few steps backward. They slide into keeping secrets, Adrian in particular and the spirit returns to drive a wedge between them. Adrian has never been my favourite character and I’ve never swooned over him but in this book he turns into a petulant child character who has an inner voice telling him (literally by the end) that he’s an actual God. I found myself predicting the ending long before it came about and being utterly disappointed with it for reasons that I cannot really go into because, spoilers. For me they never really address some of their key issues and Adrian makes a snap decision at the end of the book with little consideration and discussion. But why couldn’t Adrian and Sydney have a chance to live, first? They’re still so young. Travel. Explore. And I’m just going to pretend the Epilogue never existed at all, especially the revelation about Rose and Dimitri because I feel as though that is everything their characters would not do.
Speaking of Dimitri we finally found out who his father is, in another revelation that just felt dropped into the plot, like Mead remembered people would be curious and she couldn’t be bothered introducing another character. Instead Dimitri gets a random encounter with the man who fathered him who also turns out to be connected (related) to another character so now they are cousins. It’s like every fan fic come to life and could’ve only been worse if Dimitri had turned out to be half brothers with this person, not a cousin. Actually Rose kind of sums it up best:
Rose finally found her voice and turned on Dimitri. “Really? This guy? Are you sure?” (p151)
I hear you Rose.
Also everyone is far nicer to this ridiculous character than they should be (except for Dimitri, who ice-coolly punches him in the face but only once and really, it should’ve been many more times). I feel like Mead forgot a lot of the stuff she already established in Vampire Academy and in the end I was forgetting what was established and what wasn’t. For some reason I thought Rose claimed they relied on the Moroi for their existence and didn’t procreate with humans but apparently they can (thanks to Renee who clarified that for me). It was only a matter of time until it changed who a Dhampir could procreate with.
There was a time when I was actually enjoying this book – when Sydney snuck out of court and was chasing down clues on who had Jill I thought okay, this is going somewhere. But then about five minutes later Adrian shows up and it gets derailed with the whole Olive story (which I found relatively pointless and only served to undo things already established and give Rose and Dimitri and a few others a different future). The rescue-Jill operation seemed to go off effortlessly as they infiltrated a group with ridiculous ease and did other things with ridiculous ease and yeah, that was all over very quickly.
It probably sounds like I hated this. I didn’t but I have to admit, I was disappointed. And the the more time that passes since I finished it, the more disappointed I become. When I was reading it, there were bits that I liked a lot, bits that were okay and bits that I raised my eyebrows at but when I finished it and got out of the book I thought well, there were a lot of things I never got to see in that series that I wanted to. There were things left unsaid, scenes left out. So much became about Sydney and Adrian and their love that is more than any love anyone else has ever experienced ever and that….wasn’t strong enough to carry the six books. Not for me. With the VA books I can look back and think of so many ‘moments’ that defined each one. With this series…. I’m hard pressed to come up with many apart from Sydney being kidnapped.
So yep. I am just whelmed.
Book #42 of 2015