Book Review: Richelle Mead’s The Fiery Heart

Posted January 21, 2014 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Richelle Mead’s The Fiery Heart

The Fiery Heart


in Hardcover edition on November 19, 2013 and has 420 pages.

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Fourth in the Bloodlines urban fantasy series for Young Adults and revolving around Sydney Sage, an Alchemist, charged with protecting Princess Jill Dragomir, the Moroi queen’s only living relative who is attending boarding school at Amberwood Prep.

My Take

The Fiery Heart is using the love of a good woman trope, and even though it’s a bit hackneyed, this one is my favorite of the series, and I think it’s because we’re finally starting to get somewhere. Lord knows we’ve suffered through three books of Sydney’s angst. Now Sydney’s becoming human and letting her hair down, although only in secret and at specified hours since her sister, Zoe, has come to “help”.

Adrian is becoming real with a greater sense of hope although he’s caught between a rock and a hard place with his desire to help, to overcome his useless, playboy past, and Sydney’s terrified desire to keep him safe. At least we have Adrian’s escape plans to laugh about. It’s a desperate lightness that breaks up the darkness under which he and Sydney love.

The divorce is an interesting crisis and brings a warmth to the Sage family. Unfortunately it brings a lot of other issues to the fore as well. And just reinforces what a jerk their dad is.

There’s plenty of action: the good, the bad, the juvenile, and the bitter. Tasks are getting ticked off Sydney’s to-do list even as more are added on. Including that stupid decision to hunt Strigoi. What were they thinking?

It’s that sort of confession of Adrian’s that brings it back down to the juvenile level, fortunately, it doesn’t last long. It reads like an uh-oh moment, as if Mead realized she didn’t have a conflict between Sydney and Adrian. I’d’ve preferred it either stretched out much longer or make it much shorter.

The bitter is betrayal. A betrayal on several levels with a parting comment that will bring you to tears.

The Story

Sydney’s to-do list is long and getting longer: find a way to keep Spirit from destroying Adrian, find an ink to negate the Alchemist compulsion, keep her life and love a secret from Zoe, help Adrian and the Moroi discover how to restore more Strigoi, and keep her father from learning which side she’ll testify for.

It’s a tangled path, and with an increasingly suspicious Zoe looking over her shoulder, it only gets worse.

The Characters

Sydney Sage, a.k.a., Sydney Melrose in her undercover student role, a.k.a., Miss Melbourne, is a young and promising Alchemist addicted to caffeine who has had the misfortune to be intelligent with a questioning mind. Zoe is her younger sister, out in the field for the first time with all Sydney’s original prejudices and a yearning for some sister-time. Carly is the older sister. Her father has become a coldhearted man while their mother has remained warm and funny.

Adrian, Lord Ivashkov, is Moroi, a Spirit user who can dream walk. An incredible Gift with damaging short-term side effects of deep depression, actually, think bipolar disorder to get a better idea. Nephew to the assassinated Moroi Queen Tatiana. He’s currently studying art at Carlton. Hopper is a callistana, a baby dragon from a demonic realm called into existence in Indigo Spell, 3.

Jill Dragomir is Queen Lissa’s half-sister, and very important to Lissa if only to fulfill the requirement of the Moroi constitution that requires that a ruler have at least one living relative to be allowed to rule. When Adrian saved her life in Last Sacrifice, Vampire Academy 6, unfortunately forging a tight bond with her, a condition called shadow-kissed was the result. They can’t stray too far from each other. Her dhampir bodyguards include Eddie, who is in denied love with Jill; Angeline Dawes, a Keeper with a tendency to go off on tangents; and, Neil Raymond, who has been christened Tall, Proper, and Boring, and has something to prove.

Ms. Jackie Terwilliger is Sydney’s witchy history teacher who provides lots of excuses. The Stelle coven members include Trina, Maude, and Alison. Inez Garcia is an ancient over-rosed witch with a very particular blood type. Malachi Wolfe is a slightly crazy self-defense and gun safety instructor with a gift for the gab.

Marcus is a former Alchemist in rebellion against his old organization. Jamie and Chad are new recruits.

Rowena Clark is a fellow art student of Adrian’s; Cassie is her significant other with a yen to cook. Wait’ll you read about the dinner plans! Trey Juarez had been a member of the Warriors of Light, an anti-Strigoi organization that has as little love for dhampirs and Moroi as the Alchemists (The Golden Lily, 2). He’s in love with Angeline and a fellow student.

Clarence Donohue is an elderly Moroi who lives in Palm Springs and allows them to feed from his housekeeper, Dorothy. Keith is an Alchemist and a rapist who has been reconditioned. Scary.

Dimitri Belikov and his wife, Rose, (the Vampire Academy series) are trying to help; Abe Mazur is Rose’s mafioso father. Horace is the tattooist. Nina Sinclair is a full-blooded Moroi with a Gift for Spirit, trying to help her dhampir sister, Olive, whom she restored. Olive will join with Dimitri and Sonya Karp as restored Strigoi; Mikhail Tanner is Sonya’s husband. Christian Ozera is still Lissa’s boyfriend. Wesley Drozdov, Lars Zeklos, and Brent Badica are Adrian’s former drinking buddies with some awful secrets to spill.

Moroi are undead vampires who sip their meals and can tolerate sunlight. Strigoi are undead vampires who kill for their blood and can be killed themselves by sunlight. Dhampirs are a race born of vampires and humans, stronger and faster than Moroi and ideal warriors and bodyguards. Alchemists are humans who believe they must protect humans from the supernatural. That humans can’t handle the idea of vampires and such. We lowly humans certainly can’t, not if the Alchemists’ reactions and prejudices are anything to go by! Keepers keep to the old ways, accepting of dhampirs, humans, and Moroi living together.

The Cover and Title

The cover is…curious. A fiery orange background helps the very blonde Sydney stand out along with Adrian, and I can’t get excited about the stubbled model they chose to represent him. The bottom of the cover is a gradated band of rust fading up into orange fading up into nothing with the title and the series against a representation of Sydney’s lily tattoo.

I’m guessing that the title is for Sydney, reflecting the change in her attitudes and beliefs, her love for Adrian with The Fiery Heart.