Sydney and Adrian develop their relationship under the strain of keeping it secret from everyone, including Sydney’s perfect Alchemist sister Zoe who’s been assigned to Jill’s team to learn more about how Alchemists work. Meanwhile, Adrian struggles with his spirit power and Sydney is determined to develop an invisible protectant against Alchemist re-inking mind control.
I really liked The Fiery Heart. I’ve never been an Adrian fan at all, I’ve never liked him one bit, but I have been a huge Sydney fan ever since we first stepped into her head in Bloodlines. I love Sydney and I can really identify with her. I think, if I were to be a fictional character, I’d be Sydney. So it means a lot when I say that this mis-matched pair actually works in The Fiery Heart. I was never convinced by the romance in The Indigo Spell, but here I love their chemistry, their comfort with each, and all the little moments that show how adjusted and sweet they are.
I still have my issues with Adrian – I think he’s irresponsible, arrogant, and a drunk, and I don’t think spirit or his newly-diagnosed bi-polar is an excuse for that – but he’s working damn hard to be good enough for Sydney, which I appreciate, and he makes her feel special and loved and protected and comforted, which is all I want for her. I believe I said I found the romance in The Indigo Spell awkward and clumsy, but here it was beautiful and graceful and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. It worked, and it was lovely.
The romance plays a pretty huge part in the book, but it doesn’t detract from the serious business of saving lives. The obsession with ink and tattoos continue as Sydney thinks she might be able to develop a Strigoi vaccine, and a way to protect other rebel Alchemists without revealing their use of indigo ink. Even though Sydney’s problems have increased with her suspicious sister as her roommate, she still managed to find time to work on her witch magic and make out with Adrian. But we know the relationship can’t last: it’s the most taboo of taboo, and they know they’re dancing on the edge of a knife. It’s all just temporary, and I think that makes the forbidden aspect sweeter.
Mead is a spectacular writer who knows how to drop hints to readers so they’ll get the big issues before the narrator does. This time we’ve got duel narrators and although I’m generally against adding a new voice halfway through a series, in this book it works, because Sydney and Adrian work together and they have to work apart, and they make massive achievements while they are apart. My one complaint is that Adrians’ point of view gets the brunt of the sexytimes, and although I appreciate him appreciating Sydney, it’s a little obvious the male point of view is there to build up on what other readers have perhaps thought Sydney was lacking: her physicality.
It’s a very strong four star novel, giving exactly what fans of Sydrian have been after as well as developing the overall story arch, and I really enjoyed reading it.