The Fiery Heart is the fourth book in the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. Bloodlines is a spin-off of her earlier Vampire Academy series and, as I said in my Bloodlines Review, you should probably read VA first, though I know that people have done it without and managed just fine.
I had mixed feelings about the first book in this series, but from the second one on I’ve been completely in love with it. This book is the best yet, working out the previous installments’ kinks in secondary character development quite well and developing the central relationship excellently at the same time. This one felt a little lighter on pure action than some of the others in the series, which are in turn less action packed then the later Vampire Academy installments, but it was still extremely gripping as Sydney fights the system she was raised in and Adrian battles his inner demons. 4.5/5 stars.
What’s It About?
The Fiery Heart is book 4 in a series, so you want to stop reading here if you have plans to read the preceding books because spoilers for them start. right. now. Sydney and Adrian got together (Finally! OMG! Hallelujah!) in a grand romantic gesture at the end of The Indigo Spell and here we find them a month later back in Palm Springs after boarding school winter break. Sydney has been joined by her newly Alchemist-sworn sister, Zoe, whose presence is putting a serious damper on her love life. Sydney deals with this development, as well as some new family drama, as she pushes forward in her attempt to determine Alchemist involvement with the shadowy Warriors, who may or may not be hunting Jill, and continues her magical training: joining a coven and continuing her work with Alchemist rebel Marcus.
Adrian gets a first person POV in this one too, so for the first time in the series we see a dual perspective, getting an inside track on the vampire brain and seeing first-hand the euphoric but devastating effects of spirit magic. He battles these demons and continues the investigation started in The Golden Lily, trying to determine how to prevent forcible conversion by the evil, undead Strigoi.
The dual perspective really works well here as Adrian and Sydney have distinct voices. Sydney we’re used to, but being wrapped up in Adrian’s head is painful and infuriating at times though it is so worth it and does great things for the story. Mead uses the two voices to a huge advantage, sometimes allowing a scene to be explored from two perspectives, though usually they bounce back and forth in one smooth timeline. The biggest exception comes near the end of the novel, with the climax done in the equivalent of a flashback, driving some serious tension. It was so frustrating to watch the pieces click into place near the end, knowing there’s nothing that will make things better, but hoping it all works out anyway. (No spoilers, don’t worry. Does whatever it is work out? I won’t say.)
Sydney has changed her views completely by the time this book starts, but much about her as a character remains the same. It has been a pretty darn natural transition and I really love her character. Passion and levelheadedness meld well in her, creating a wholly unique yet believable character.
Adrian struggles valiantly in this one with his many vices and mental illness. He makes brave decisions and gains some self-respect, coming into his own. He grows and changes with enough bumps along the way to make it entertaining and believable. We’ll see where he goes in the next book, but I have high hopes. Plus I’m just in love with him myself; he’s a fan favorite love interest for good reason. Just damaged enough to be pitiable without being clingy or creepy, yet at his core, he is deeply and unshakably kind and good.
Then there’s the Sydney/Adrian relationship, which progressed quite nicely.[Insert fangirl squealing here] They’re madly in love, but between interracial taboos and personal demons, they have a lot of issues to work out. They constantly choose to fight for each other and they are pretty equal participants in their relationship, which is so refreshing and healthy, despite their secrecy and personal hang-ups. It works. They work, despite being total opposites and I love them together so, so much. [More squealing here.]
The secondary characters fare better in this installment than some of the previous ones. Eddie and Jill deal-but-not-really with their feelings for each other. Angeline and Trey are a nice echo of Adrian and Sydney as they cope with the race taboo as well, and even new-comer Neil fights to maintain his sense of duty and act in a way he feels is right, even if it is reckless.
The Less Good (But Still Pretty Good)
Sydney’s eating disorder is pretty much glossed over. It’s mentioned once at the beginning, but we don’t see her deal with at all, though she does easily brush off a pretty harsh comment about her weight at one point, so I guess that’s progress? She never fought for it, so I don’t get it, really. It feels like a forgotten plot point.
The Jill turning up in pictures for that fashion designer thing never came back, and neither did Alicia from Indigo. Those things still can come back later on, but who knows? There are a lot of new things that came up in this book that need dealing with, so I wonder if those still open story lines will ever get wrapped up. It will be a shame if they don’t, but like I said, there’s still time.
And, I guess that’s it really…Pretty small issues, all things considered.
I really liked this book and I am infatuated with the series. I fidgeted through an entire work meeting (the jist of which was: “Black Friday is coming.” said Stark style) thinking about getting back to it when I should have actually been nervous about my big interview trip. It dominated my life for a day. A day in which I should have been busy doing Important Life Stuff. It’s that kind of book.
I recommend Bloodlines as a series to romance fans, especially of the teen vampire persuasion, though all should find something to enjoy. I should also note that it is thin in the love triangle department, so if you’re tired of being stabbed in the eyes with those pointy bastards you can try this on for size (though the secondary characters do experience them somewhat, swapping partners rather often throughout the series). The conflicts in the major romance come from other sources entirely. Well worn sources also, certainly, but not a stupid love triangle. (I am not a big fan of love triangles, as you will know if you’ve read my reviews before. They are so overdone in the teen romance genre, always with a predictable outcome.) I am dying to read the next installment in this six-part series, which isn’t due out until some undetermined day next summer.
Time machine, please.