The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Two Roads (Review: The Indigo Spell; Richelle Mead)

The Indigo Spell
Richelle Mead
Razorbill 2013

The Indigo Spell is the third in Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series.  If you haven’t read the first two books then this review will contain. You have been warned.

Life for Sydney Sage isn’t getting any easier.  In charge of the protection of Jill Dragomir, sister to the Moroi queen (and in hiding because of it) she has found herself spending more and more time with those whose existence she has been taught was repellent her entire life.  And it’s making her question everything she’s ever believed.  After her recent discovery of the Warriors of Light, an intimate interlude with a Moroi, not to mention the discovery that she seems to be some sort of magical adept, Sydney has no idea what has happened to her life.  Desperate for information, she sets out to find the mysterious Marcus Finch, a rogue Alchemist who may just have the answers she seeks.  At the same time, she discovers she’s in danger from some sort of evil old witch who might just want to suck away her power and youth while continuing to battle with her conflicting feelings for the increasingly alluring Adrian Ivashkov.  Same old, same old, then…

God love Sydney and her indefatigable work ethic.  Regardless of what task she sets herself to, she knuckles down like there’s no tomorrow.  From meeting and then dealing with Marcus, to learning a host of the magic she’s so very scared of, to looking after her charges (a job seemingly more akin to herding bats than anything else, especially in terms of the glorious Angeline), to ignoring Adrian, she tries terribly hard.  Interestingly, when she then decides to question her own personal rhetoric, she sets about things with the same kind of gusto – an attitude which is both in keeping with her character and great to read.  Sydney, despite her conflicting loyalties is proving that she is nothing if not true to herself.  This true self is something that is coming into clearer focus for readers of the Bloodlines series.  While The Golden Lily touched more on the fact that Sydney was woefully under-socialised, The Indigo Spell shows her starting to relax a little, to enjoy life and to confront her own true feelings.  As a character she just gets better and better and is a truly enjoyable protagonist to read.

New character, Marcus, while vital to the plot is rather underwhelming.  He’s very pretty with a sort of Robin Hood-esque charm about him but at first seems to only exist for the sake of some interesting exposition.  However, he quickly emerges as a character who provides Sydney with options, both practically and personally, helping her on her journey as a person (dude).  Eddie, Angeline, Jill and Trey remain well written with Jill particularly lovely and Ms. Terwilliger gets more page space this time round, emerging as being pretty awesome.  Obviously, though, as with ALL the other books he appears in, Adrian completely steals the show.  I may have mentioned this before, but Adrian is just my kind of trouble.  Disregarding the fangs, he sounds like 90% of the men I’ve dated.  Gorgeous?  Check.  Be-clothed in a cloud of smoke and whiskey fumes? Check.  Charismatic?  Hilarious?  Poor, but in an I’m-a-struggling-artist-and-secretly-probably-live-in-a-garret sort of a way? Check, check, check!  He could have been written just for me.  Mead has always written his character well, especially when she’s put him through the ringer and The Indigo Spell is no exception.  He clearly adores Sydney and watching him patiently pine for her is both touching and swoonsome (yes, it’s a word).  In short, yum.

The Indigo Spell moves Richelle Mead’s series along at quite a pace.  The writing is as slick as ever, with the dialogue particularly believable regardless of the supernatural subject matter.  Her world building remains superb even as she carefully deconstructs the Alchemists and their secrets and there are plenty of intriguing questions dangling in terms of final book, The Fiery Heart.  The main strengths of The Indigo Spell, as with her previous books, remain her characters all of whom are immensely likable (or immensely unlikable when appropriate).  This and the steady humour she peppers her stories with set Bloodlines apart from other vampire tales.  To be honest, you’d be hard pushed to get me to pick up a book that mentioned the word vampire in its blurb these days yet I find myself eagerly awaiting what is sure to be an enjoyable and classy denouement to Bloodlines later this year. Even if you can’t stand vamp stories, or feel like you've read them all, Richelle Mead’s books are refreshing, fun and contain NO sparkles. Highly recommended.

This review was brought to you by Splendibird, who really does love a bad boy.  The Indigo Spell is published on 12th February 2013. Thank you to the publisher for sending us this title to review.

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