"Those words, that voice, had more power over me than any phantom ever could."
My thoughts on the conclusion to a phenomenal series? I can’t even believe I am about to say this but The Ruby Circle is the first, and only, book in the Bloodlines series that I didn’t love. I liked it, this much is true, enough to reread it in the future, but it was still a rather weak installment and not at all up to the standards usually set by Richelle Mead.
I daresay it bordered on half-assed and rushed.
It was enjoyable–but only to an extent. By comparison to the other novels in the series, it was watered down and sped up to hit a more suspenseful note. But it didn’t mesh well with it at all. Mead attempted to wrap up plots from the novels in a way that could have been excellent, had the novel been a bit longer and less “everyone gets a happily ever after except a few!” and more detailed.
See, I’m all for happy endings and logically speaking a lot of things from this final book have been a long time coming and hinted at for ages. But it all felt a bit dull. “Boom, this thing happened!” and “Boom! They’re together now!” and “Boom, let’s make a deal!” is how the story felt to me. Unlike the previous installments, it felt rushed and as if we were told things rather than shown them.
Sloppy. That’s what some of the timeline felt like and I am so disappointed. Now, this isn’t to say everything felt like that but a good chunk of the novel did and it was rather cringe worthy. I wouldn’t have had a problem with it, if pieces were put together a bit more… suitably.
Let’s talk characters and plot-lines being wrapped up. We last saw these characters in Silver Shadows and here’s what was going on:
- Sydney escaped the clutches of the Alchemists but only barely. After being betrayed by her younger sister, she was held captive for reeducation. A team of her friends and loved ones worked together to break everyone in the center out.
- After only narrowly escaping capture, Sydney and Adrian are wed and Lissa promises protection should the two stay at court.
- Sydney took Marcus’ place as the Alchemists most wanted.
- Jill was kidnapped by unknown forces, turning their world upside down and leaving behind a great deal of sadness and damage. Angeline, Eddie and Neil all feel as though it is their fault.
- Nina and Adrian’s friendship was put in jeopardy due to her feelings for him and his marriage to a human. Nina’s sister Olive, who Nina restored from Strigoi form, had some sort of connection with fellow dhamphir, Neil.
- Adrian’s mother moved in with Sydney and Adrian.
The Ruby Circle opens up with the knowledge that married life isn’t quite what Sydney and Adrian thought it would be. Jill is still missing. Their romance has hit a small (very small) snag, considering they are confined to court and living with Adrian’s mother, who makes it very difficult to have much of a romantic life.
Not to mention the taboo surrounding their relationship. That being said, they are about to be separated when two huge plot points are brought about. One, there are new clues to who is holding Jilly hostage and why–the answer is startling for Sydney and her friends when they discover it is, in fact, not what they expected.
Jill is held by a disgruntled Alicia, who Sydney had last seen a few books back and who she thought she’d killed. A is toying with the gang by holding Jill hostage and Sydney has to sneak out from court with the help of her mentor, and in the form of a cat, to rescue her before it’s too late. Eddie tags along to help for obvious reasons.
Sydney and her group have to take on the powerful girl and it is a straight up power struggle that could prove to be deadly. Fortunately for the gang, it seems likely they can defeat the girl and find out where Jill is being held–and drugged–soon. If anyone is up for the task, it is them. But fate has a few tricks up its sleeve and the Alchemists could very well ruin everything.
Meanwhile, Adrian remains at court and tries to convince the world that Sydney is still around. Our second subplot is just as important as Jill being missing–Nina’s sister Olive is hiding out for some reason, refusing to see anyone, and each time Nina tries to reach out to her in dreams Olive somehow turns the dream against her.
Worst of all, Nina is allowing the spirit to drive her to near madness. If Adrian isn’t careful, if he gets to wrapped up in the plot to find out where Olive is, he could very well be consumed by spirit next.
After some time Adrian sneaks himself out of court to–with the help of Nina and his mother, who promise to keep their location concealed. Adrian continues helping both Sydney and Nina in their problems, but don’t worry, there’s no romantic connection between Adrian and Nina so Sydrian isn’t in trouble.
Discovering some leads in Jill’s disappearance as well as Olive’s, the gang works together with the witches and Marcus and Trey, as well as Dimitri and Rose. The Ruby Circle marks the return of a lot, a lot of characters from both Vampire Academy and Bloodlines.
Soon, Nina can’t keep up the charade and loses herself to spirit. She is in an unknown place and now, unfortunately, Sydney and Adrian’s cover has been blown.
Our biggest plot twist comes in one startling discovery. Olive is pregnant–and the baby is Neil’s, which was previously thought to be impossible. As it turns out, restoring Olive back to her original form somehow made it possible for her to get pregnant. But tragedy strikes out pretty quickly and Olive doesn’t live long past having given birth.
Now, Adrian and Sydney have more on their plates. Not only do they have to continue to evade the alchemists and find Jill before it’s too late, they need to protect Olive’s baby boy–Declan. They are fortunate to have help along the way.
More and more risks threaten everything, and soon they have the bad guy in custody and are plotting ways to rescue Jill.
Boom! More twists. Jill is held at an undisclosed location by the Warriors, whom we haven’t seen in a while, and with the help of Sabrina and Marcus, Eddie and Sydney have to go undercover as potential recruits. It’s a risky situation but goes off pretty quickly and nearly without a hitch, not only does Sydney get information on where Jill could be held and the terms of the contract made beyond it, she also now has a bargaining chip for her freedom from the Alchemists and strikes up a deal with them before saving Jill.
From then on out, the rescue mission unfolds really quickly and it’s suspenseful but also rushed.
Overall, the story itself was solid but I could have done without some minor background plots and desired a lot more from it than I received. I liked that there was a happier tone to the finally chapters and that Sydney was able to bargain herself free. I liked finding out that Sydney's father was worse than we know and that Zoe was questioning things and is a lot more like Sydney now that she has opened her eyes. I thought it was cute finding out that Marcus and Carly are dating, too.
If you’re looking for happy endings, then you’re going to love this one but I highly doubt it will be your favorite of the series. Mead does a solid job at wrapping things up and we get closure, but as I said it was all very rushed. I am on the fence about it, if truth be told.
In close notes we find Adrian and Sydney living their life differently than expected, but with a world of freedom and possibilities. They are raising Declan as their own, Eddie and Jill are in a long distance relationship, Dimitri and Rose are engaged. I liked the end note of solidarity and family between the gang and thought it was sweet and a little unexpected. It was a generally happy ending. But I did have a lot of questions that were left unanswered.
I was also kinda sad there wasn't more Angeline in this one and that frustrated me a bit because I quite like her and she's played a huge part in everything. But we do know what she is up to and that she is always going to be in the gangs life because they really and truly did become a family and it is a beautiful connection.