Book Review: The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
Warning: While there are no major spoilers for The Indigo Spell, there will be light spoilers for Bloodlines & The Golden Lily in this review.
After the ending of The Golden Lily, book two in the Bloodlines series, I was eagerly awaiting more awkward sexual tension between Sydney Sage and Adrian Ivashkov, burning with curiosity about the mysterious Marcus Finch, and craving some serious rogue magic from Sydney and her wacky history teacher/witchy mentor. By far the strongest book in the Bloodlines series, The Indigo Spell does not disappoint on any of these fronts, delivering sizzling Sydrian chemistry, long-awaited Marcus Finch answers, and an action-packed mystery that finally make use of the magical groundwork laid in books one and two.
Here are a few things you can look forward to in The Indigo Spell:
Sydney Steps It WAY Up
Sydney is like the frog in the pot of boiling water. When we first meet her in Blood Promise, she’s terrified of dhampirs and Moroi, absolutely committed to Alchemist values, and staunchly opposed to magic, Moroi-made or otherwise. If you told her she might kiss a vampire, drink a sugar-loaded Slurpee and/or cast a spell, she would have laughed and made the Alchemist sign of evil at you.
In Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, Sydney gradually becomes comfortable and even friendly with her vampire “family” at Amberwood Prep, and she begrudgingly works on magical charms and spells with Ms. Terwilliger, her history teacher who moonlights as a witch. The more danger she and her friends face, the less concerned she is with Alchemist propriety. Her fear of the Warriors of Light splinter group inspires her to open up to human and magical self-defense, and her friendship with Adrian causes her to seriously question the rules of vampire-Alchemist conduct.
For the first time Sydney sees how many secrets the Alchemists have been keeping from her, and she is finally beginning to spit out some of the Koolaid and ask what the heck is in it. I’m thrilled to see her beginning to think for herself and wonder who she wants to be, not just who she’s supposed to be.
I’ve said before that Sydney is like the Hermione Granger of Alchemists, but I feel it’s an even truer comparison now. In the first Bloodlines novel, she was annoyingly goody two shoes, strictly enforcing rules, acting like a second mother to Jill, Eddie and Adrian, and following Alchemist orders blindly. She has come SO far from that nerdy know-it-all. Like Hermione, Sydney becomes increasingly more badass and self-reliant as the series progresses, while still retaining her resourceful, bookish ways, and using her training with both chemicals and spells to its fullest advantage.
Syd drops an endearingly nerdy Hermoine-style line about not understanding social situations and hoping to find a book that can help her in every Bloodlines book, and this installment is no exception:
“The next time I had nothing to do, I’d have to get a book on testosterone-driven behavior.”
I think this is the first book where I genuinely connected with Sydney; instead of just laughing at her ticks and admiring her organization & responsibility. For once I’m not missing the narration of Rose Hathaway. In this book, Sydney finally becomes a narrator worthy of an epic series, and I love her for it.
Adrian Worms His Way Even Further Into My Heart
I’ve always had a soft spot for Adrian. After his rough dealings in Last Sacrifice, I was up in arms for the guy (despite being firmly Team Dimitri). I really wanted him to find some happiness. But in spite of how charming, hilarious and kind-hearted he is (beneath layers of snark of course), he has been notoriously self-destructive, unmotivated, and vain in the Vampire Academy series—good mostly for comic relief and sexy ogling. My opinion of him changed greatly in Bloodlines, with the revelation of his sacrifice for Jill and his involvement in the mission to protect her in Palm Springs.
There’s never been any doubt that Adrian is sexy, funny and SO much fun to read about, but for the first time, I feel like his character is someone deserving of deep, lasting love—like he’s not only capable of making a girl shiver and swoon (this is crucial, obviously), BUT he’d also be a really good partner and best friend.
He has come so far from his Vampire Academy days—seriously working on his art, trying to be responsible, and most of all, being the most supportive friend Sydney’s ever had. Adrian is always ready to throw himself into danger for her, but he gives Sydney space to be her own badass and save him when it makes sense. This book is the least selfish version of Adrian I’ve ever encountered, and I’m verging on loving him more than Dimitri (*gasp* I know! but he’s so much funnier than Dimka!).
Favorite non-spoilery Adrian Line:
“I was defending your honor. Pretty manly, huh?”
We all know Sydney and Adrian can’t be together—humans and vampire romance is forbidden by Moroi and Alchemists, and the mistrust between the two groups is palpable. So Sydney has some powerful mental blocks to overcome if she’s going to repeat a kiss like the one she shared with Adrian in The Golden Lily. This of course means scene after scene of forbidden flirting, out of control sexual tension, and maybe even a few delicious moments of giving in to that tension. And oh my lord this relationship is sexy! Did I ever doubt that Richelle Mead can bring the swoon? She is the author of Rose and Dimka love scenes, after all. Let’s just say she hasn’t lost her touch.
But it’s not just the physical tension that makes Sydrian so hot. I really love watching their minds spar. They have such amazing intellectual chemistry, and it’s only getting better the more time they spend together. I can’t imagine two people better suited for one another, because they bring out the best in each other. Adrian needs someone like Sydney in his life, inspiring him to work with his strengths, and to not slip into his vices so easily. And wow, does Sydney need someone like Adrian in her life, reminding her that she doesn’t have to be an Alchemist wallflower—she can dress up and feel sexy and own her badassery, and explore her own interests, Alchemist rulings be damned.
I won’t say how things end up, but it’s damn near impossibly to not root for this couple to somehow make it work.
Vampire Academy MVPers Make Cameos
We get to revisit several beloved Vampire Academy characters, including two of my absolute favorites! I will say no more, but know that there was squealing. Oh yes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all the intrigue and danger Sydney and the gang face from Strigoi, Moroi dissidents and the cray cray Warriors of Light. But I’ve been wanting Sydney to get sucked further into the world of magic every since she threw that fire charm in Bloodlines, like some kind of witchy Walter White. We finally get a side plot worthy of the magical prep Sydney and Ms. Terwilliger have been doing. There is serious witchy trouble in this novel, and Sydney can’t let it go unattended, because she’s at the center of it. More of this please!!
Marcus Finch Uncovered
There’s a lot of curious chatter surrounding this character (not just because of the Who is Marcus Finch? clues campaign). Sydney sought out information about Marcus in The Golden Lily and was stonewalled by her Alchemist superiors. Whatever he’s up to, it’s bad enough for Alchemists to deny his existence. We finally get to find out who he is and what he’s all about, and while I won’t say a peep about it, I will say I LOVE the way Sydney deals with him once she uncovers the truth.
This book is a thrilling and sexy leap forward for the series. We have crossed into a new, higher-stakes story, with so many exhilarating possibilities, and we’ve moved on from the slower, albeit enjoyable, stage-setting that so much of the first two books seemed to favor.
Confession time: I’ve been reading this book series mostly for Adrian, but now I’m fully committed to Sydney and her ever-expanding world of Moroi, Strigoi, Alchemists and witches. I’m dying to read more, especially after the last page a-bomb of a plot development. I can’t wait to see what happens in The Fiery Heart (and to get the story from BOTH Sydney and Adrian’s perspectives).
Check out our Who Is Marcus Finch? clues for more teasers on the Mr. Finch and the book.
About The Indigo Spell:
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.
Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series 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.
Read an excerpt:
Watch the trailer:
Thanks to Penguin we have one hardcover copy of The Indigo Spell to give away! (US only).
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