Saturday, 26 July 2014

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead is the fifth and penultimate book in the Bloodlines series. I have previously reviewed the earlier books. In reverse order: The Fiery Heart, Indigo Spell and The Golden Lily (Bloodlines was pre-blog). Silver Shadows is a solid instalment in a series that has becoming more interesting (and with higher-stakes) with each book. Note that this review (and the blurb) contains spoilers for the end of the previous book, The Fiery Heart.
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.
I really enjoyed Silver Shadows. The book alternates point of view chapters between Sydney and Adrian, with Sydney locked up in the harsh Alchemist re-education centre and Adrian on the outside trying to get Sydney out. It's a darker book than the ones that went before it, mainly because re-education involves a lot of torture. It does also highlight Sydney's indomitable spirit as she refuses to be let herself be brainwashed. My favourite part was the ways Sydney finds to fight back against the system, even while she's in the re-education centre. Adrian, on the other hand, spirals into a pit of depression and binge drinking when he can't make contact with Sydney, reverting to his former self.

Of course, Sydney doesn't spend the entire book locked up and the last... quarter, maybe, is much lighter in tone than what went before it. I found myself chuckling several times and the surprise near the end was pretty great. I wish I could talk about it more, but it's definitely a spoiler.

While the premise of the series revolves around Jill, Sydney and Adrian have always been the main characters. This is even more evident in Silver Shadows, since Jill and the rest of the gang do not get much page time. But I think there was also an element of needing to sort out a lot of Sydney and Adrian's story so that the last book could bring focus back on Jill (I'm guessing).

I highly recommend Silver Shadows for anyone whose enjoyed the Bloodlines series so far. Really that should go without saying. For those new to the series, it really is the kind of series that needs to be read in order from the start. I would not at all recommend starting with Silver Shadows or any instalment other than Bloodlines.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: July 2014, Penguin
Series: Bloodlines book 5 of 6 (and Bloodlines is a spin-off series of the Vampire Academy)
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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