Title: Silver Shadows
Author: Richelle Mead
Year of Publication: 2014
Goodreads Rating (Avg.): 4.37
Goodreads Rating (Mine): 4
I Don’t Do Spoiler Free Reviews
Plot Description: Sydney has been kidnapped by the Alchemists, the human organization she works for. Their methods for dealing with rogue Alchemists involve imprisonment, torture and brainwashing designed to make their victims more pliable towards their objectives and methods. While she attempts to navigate the various pitfalls of “re-education,” Adrian, Jill, Eddie and the rest desperately search for her.
Silver Shadows is all action. The only scenes that seem to slow the pace down are – predictably – the ones that involve Adrian’s depression following Sydney’s kidnapping. Even as she spends months in the dark, resisting torture, Adrian falls off the wagon, spending his days depressed and disoriented. In order to contact Sydney via her dreams, he must go off his medication and access spirit again. His symptoms return in full force, along with the hallucination of his dead aunt, the former Moroi Queen Tatiana Ivashkov.
By the time Adrian shakes off his funk and manages to contact Sydney via a spirit dream, she has managed to disable the piping of sedative gas into her room at night, and is well on her way to staging a full-scale revolution in the re-education center. This is despite the fact that the authorities there did everything in their power to isolate her, ensure that she was seen as tainted by her fellow detainees. Here, of all places and situations in the Vampire Academy universe, the taboo against romantic or sexual interaction between humans and Moroi hold fastest.
After Baxter’s reaction to touching my hand, I tried to save the other detainees the trouble of being near me and kept a respectful distance apart. We bottlenecked in the narrow hall, however, and the maneuvers some of them did to avoid bumping into me would’ve been comical in any other circumstances. Those not near me went out of their way to avoid eye contact and pretend I didn’t exist. Those forced to avoid contact fixed me with icy glares, and I was shocked to hear one whisper, “Slut.”
I’d braced myself for a lot of things and expected to be called any number of names, but that one caught me off guard. I was surprised by how much it stung.
Gradually gaining first the trust, and then the respect of her fellow detainees, Sydney manages to use her magic to protect a number of them from the magical equivalent of extra-strength on-the-spot brainwashing. She is then recaptured while disabling the gas being piped to all the detainee’s rooms – a feat which enabled Adrian to bring two of her friends in re-education into a spirit dream, and therefore finalize the escape plan.
Adrian’s relationship with his mother, and his parents’ relationship with each other is one of the subplots of this book. Both Daniella and Nathan received enough coverage in Vampire Academy that their personalities come as no surprise. Nathan is a rude, pompous, shallow person who constantly insults his son. Daniella is shallow and selfish, but ultimately cares more about Adrian than does her husband. Her love is real, and she ultimately always comes back to it.
The final act of the book always struck me as slightly hilarious – it features a ridiculous chase through the roads and hotels of Las Vegas as they simultaneously plan and execute a wedding while evading the Alchemists that are in hot pursuit. Once they’ve made it to the royal Court, they demand sanctuary for Sydney, in her new capacity as a Moroi royal’s wife.
It’s hard to review this book without falling into what is essentially a recap, because as I noted above, this is a very action filled book. Evenly paced, it doesn’t stretch out the re-education scenes unnecessarily, and does a very good job of connecting threads that are far apart to sew together a plan that – mostly – runs smoothly.
As the series nears its conclusion, most of the original conflicts have been resolved, one by one. Adrian’s long past pining for Rose. Sydney and Adrian are in a happy relationship – one they no longer need to keep a secret. With the vote on the family quorum requirement all but passed, Jill no longer needs to stay in hiding very long. Most of the characters have met potential love interests and paired off with them – including a possible happy ending for Sydney’s elder sister, Carly.
But Lissa’s decision to provide Sydney with sanctuary has turned the Alchemists from ally to enemy of the Moroi. The radical splinter group of the Alchemists – the Warriors of Light – are still out there, plotting. And the final few paragraphs of Silver Shadows sets up the conflict for the last book – Jill is missing, and no one can figure out how she disappeared, or why.
From a series perspective, Silver Shadows may perhaps fulfil the role of a filler episode, but confronting the spectre of re-education once and for all, and trampling the human-Moroi relationship taboo were both monumental steps as far as plot – and indeed, world – development is concerned.