By: Cynthia Ayala
Sydney Sage has admitted what is in her heart: that she is in love with vampire Adrian Ivashkov. But as an Alchemist, she is supposed to loathe them, fear them and protect the human world from them and their vampire secrets. And with the arrival of her sister Zoe, her struggles only increase. Not only is Sydney fraternizing with a vampire, she is friends with others while trying to harness her profound magical ability which undermines everything she was raised to defend.
A fiery heart indeed. Published November 19, 2013 by Penguin Group, The Fiery Heart by New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead is the fourth book in her young adult paranormal/fantasy Bloodlines series that follows Sydney Sage and Adrian Ivashkov on their journey of self-discovery and love.
Now, this is not some sappy paranormal romance novel, it’s a fantastical novel that happens to have romance in it. However, what makes the novel stand out amongst the crowd of forbidden love and vampire centric novels is the social aspect this story decides to take. The romance represents a race and overcoming those racial stigmas. Adrian isn’t just a royal, he’s a vampire, a Spirit use while Sydney is an Alchemist, their love isn’t just frowned upon, it’s outright forbidden. The Alchemist taught her that Vampires needed to be watched and possibly exterminated.
These pair of characters have to overcome those odds, which leads to a lot of character growth while additionally creating a deeper meaning to their relationship/dynamic that will make any reader jump up and root for them. Their dynamic is so strong and their characterization is remarkable. Sydney and Adrian have both come a long way since their days as minor characters in the Vampire Academy series. Sydney was raised to be narrow-minded but through her own will, she has opened her heart and her mind to the world around her and has started to question everything she was raised to believe. What makes this so interesting is her rebellious aspect that she takes on by becoming a secret witch and joining a coven. Not to mention her little pet dragon, it is so fantastical and fun to read giving the story a lighter touch.
Nevertheless, while the lighter side of Sydney highly contrasts her seriousness in the previous novels, something deeper and more mature gives the story more of its charm. Mead took a brave step in deciding to explore was the mental instability regarding Adrian due to the consequences of using Spirit. Mead went about developing Adrian in such an amazing and mature way and for fans of the Vampire Academy novels, his character has not only come a long way, he continues to develop page after page. As the story develops, his mental disability is revealed and the steps he takes to make himself healthy is remarkable. Readers can feel his fear, madness, strength and depression take a hold of him. But the strength is what stands out because it makes him such a captivating character.
Adrian’s inner turmoil is represented so perfectly and so realistically that, both of which make him and the novel both incredibly unique and powerful. Not often are real life problems represented so clearly and accurately in fantastical novel and Mead took a bold step in taking those directions in her regards to build the plot, the story and the series.
All of that combined, from story development to construction, representation and character growth makes this a “can’t put down” novel. While clearly a paranormal novel for young adult readers, the context is mature enough to resonate with anyone who loves vampires, romance and rebellion. (★★★★☆ | A)