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Don’t judge Richelle Mead’s books by the horrible covers. Maybe someday they’ll get a makeover, but for now we must look past the angry Abercrombie gang. I’m not the one who put croutons in their salad.

The Indigo Spell is book 3 in the Bloodlines series, the Vampire Academy spinoff. We ended The Golden Lily with a declaration of love that goes against everything the alchemists taught Sydney to be – a cold, calculating vampire hater.

indigospell

Sydney is searching for Marcus, a former alchemist who may be able to shed some light on the alchemists’ dark side. Until recently, she didn’t even know the words “former” and “alchemist” could go together. Yes she’s sworn her life to the organization, but that was before she saw the whole Evil picture. A few glimpses of the true periphery combined with a fondness for her new Moroi friends has her questioning everything.

The monkey wrench is that there’s a youth-sucking witch on the loose. It sounds like silliness, but Mead mostly pulls it off. More so than the prior books, here the pacing felt off. I wish there was more breathing room in the plotting, quiet moments to sink into the story, some time to get more invested.

As the third book, we begin to see where the arc of the series is heading. At the center is Sydney’s inner struggle between the rigid rules and opaqueness of being an alchemist and her desire to help Moroi in her own way now that she’s unable to see them as monsters. I like that Sydney grows with every book. She’s a cerebral control freak navigating the crazy impulses of her heart now that Adrian has a hold of it.

If you’re a fan of Richelle Mead and haven’t started the Bloodline series yet, it’s a good time to hop aboard. The fourth book is already out, the fifth is coming this July and the last book will be out next year. While not as addictive as Vampire Academy, Bloodlines is an entertaining series of quick reads.

This is my least favorite in the series so far. Once again I saw the main villain coming and found it hard to believe Syd didn’t. There’s a lot going on that, to me, read more like busyness to draw out the series than plotting.

Hayao Miyazaki used the Japanese word ma to describe a certain kind of slow-moving, empty stretch in a story. A sigh or a quiet moment on a bench staring at a leaf doesn’t have to advance the plot, but it gives the audience a stronger sense of the world, time, place or who a character is. In his own words “… if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension”.

More and more I find myself wanting these emptier moments in books, especially YA that tries so hard to deliver continuous intensity.

 

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