The mature thing to do when you both have enormous, suffocatingly impending deadlines as well as knee surgery and an enforced lay-off coming up would be to save up a good book for the latterly mentioned respite.
I, of course, did nothing of the sort, head-in-the-sanding it ostrich style to pretend that I didn’t have deadlines and figuring that I’d find another book to read during my post-operative recovery.
With the exception of a two-or-so-sentences cameo, Rose and Dimitri didn’t feature in this book. Again. Although these days I’m better able to cope, both because I’m used to the disappointment and because Mead’s fleshing out the Bloodlines plots and characters a little better than before.
Case in point: Sydney the uptight alchemist, who in this book finally loosens up and allows herself to fall in love. Well, sort of, given that she spends the bulk of the book denying and quashing it, but semantics …
The book begins with Sydney being awoken in the middle of the night by her kooky, witchy teacher to cast a spell relating to a ‘life-or-death matter’. Props to Mead for an opening that both throws you in there and, er, garners your attention:
This wasn’t the first time I’d been pulled out of bed for a crucial mission. It was, however, the first time I’d been subjected to such a personal line of questioning.
‘Are you a virgin?’
‘Huh?’ I rubbed my sleepy eyes, just in case this was all some sort of bizarre dream that would disappear …
Mead gets straight into the snappy repartee, too (although out of context this is admittedly not as snappy as I first found it):
[Ms Terwilliger] stepped back and sighed with relief. ‘Yes, of course. Of course you’re a virgin.’
I narrowed my eyes, unsure if I should be offended or not. ‘Of course? What’s that supposed to mean?’
Soon after, Sydney narrates:
I was pretty sure I could hear some large animal scuffling out in the brush and added ‘coyotes’ to my mental list of dangers I faced out here, right below ‘magic use’ and ‘lack of coffee’.
Later, she has this encounter with love interest Adrian Ivashkov:
‘Nothing will get you anywhere with me,’ [Sydney] exclaimed.
‘I don’t know about that.’ He put on an introspective look that was both unexpected and intriguing. ‘You’re not as much of a lost cause as [Rose] was. I mean, with her, I had to overcome her deep, epic love with a Russian warlord. You and I just have to overcome hundreds of years’ worth of deeply ingrained prejudice and taboo between our two races.’
The Indigo Spell continues on chronologically from the previous Bloodlines books. Sydney is still tasked with protecting sister-to-the-queen Jill, whose knocking off could, due to archaic laws not yet changed, topple the entire and tenuously held throne. The two are holed up in the decidedly un-vampire-friendly Palm Springs along with guardian Eddie, wannabe guardian Angeline, and adorable, spirit user and arguable alcoholic Adrian.
The plot hole that so enraged me last book—the fact that, despite books and books worth of rules that a guardian never leaves their guardianee, Jill is left alone and unprotected for vast chunks of time—isn’t entirely plugged in this book, but it is addressed enough that it no longer explodes me.
My main gripe with The Indigo Spell, which I enjoyed more than its predecessors mostly because Sydney stopped being so Hermione and started having fun, was that the mysterious breakaway-alchemist storyline it featured didn’t exactly come to fruition. The promising plot, frankly, fell a little so-what flat. I could be proven wrong in future books, but for the moment I’m not convinced the storyline contributed to the plot, much less propelled it forward, and I have to wonder why it wasn’t excised in the edit.
Still, it wasn’t enough to make me put the book down (in reality, my deadline issues would have been better served if it had been), and reading The Indigo Spell left me with a feeling that was a cross between the one you get while consuming comfort food and being wrapped in a freshly laundered doona on an autumnal night.
The book was also packed with enough small-moment witticisms to keep me smiling to myself. Say, for example, when Sydney freaked out because her teacher was away sick and left only instructions to work on homework for the substitute teacher.
This seemed to amuse [her friend] immensely. ‘Melbourne, sometimes you’re the only reason I come to class. I saw her sub plan for your independent study, by the way. It said you didn’t even have to stick around. You’re free to run wild.’
Eddie, sitting nearby, overheard and scoffed. ‘To the library?’
Late in the book she calls Adrian with a request that’s rather unusual for her:
‘Can you come over to Amberwood? I need you to help me break curfew and escape my dorm.’
There were a few moments of silence. ‘Sage, I’ve been waiting two months to hear you say those words. You want me to bring a ladder?’
Now, if I can just find another book to read while I’m hopped up on painkillers and propped up on pillows, I’ll be sorted book-wise for at least another few days …