I was extremely excited when I heard there was going to be a spin off series from Vampire Academy. I loved the other series & couldn't wait for this one to come out. This will be a great series & I love that the perspective is from a human (albeit Alchemist) instead of a Moroi or Dhampir. It also continues on after the Vampire Academy series. This one is about Sydney's life. She is an 18 year old Alchemist who was in trouble for helping Rose escape & being labeled as a vampire lover. Since she was cleared of everything regarding the escape, Sydney has been house bound. An assignment has come up & they have requested Sydney's sister be the agent involved. Sydney doesn't want to subject her sister, Zoe into the life & volunteers to go in her place. An argument erupts & all parties put in their views. Finally it is agreed that Sydney will go, but Zoe will begin training in case she is needed as a back up. The assignment is watching over the Moroi Queen's half sister Jill. This means they are enrolling into a private school in Palm Springs. They are acting as a family & the siblings are Sydney, Jill, Eddie & Adrian. Plus another brother whom is also an alchemist, Keith. Nobody seems very happy about this arrangement, though it is all for the safety of the Queen & her sister until the new law is passed. Like any other school, this one has their own cliques & agendas. Sydney fits right in & loves all the work, where the other 2 enrolled are not as keen. Life goes along & little dramas come up for Jill along the way. The students at the school are awed by Sydney's golden tattoo on her cheek & there are rumors hers hold special abilities. Some other students have been getting special tattoos known as celestial tattoos that give the bearer special abilities for a short period of time. Sydney is determined to follow this through & find out what all the hullabaloo is. There has also been some murders found in LA & around Palm Springs. Nobody seems too concerned, but again Sydney seems to be able to put the clues together. Sydney seems to be in her element, figuring out puzzles & school work. But her supervisor Keith has other ideas & turns her in under suspicious behavior. She has been given 2 weeks, then her sister will replace her. But Sydney puts all the clues together & discovers who the murderer is & who is supplying the special ingredients for the tattoos. I also had my suspicions & they were correct. Sydney starts to befriend Adrian, but her beliefs are still to strong to make anything of it. As are her beliefs that magic exists. I really enjoyed this first installment into the life of Sydney & the way her mind works. I can't wait until June 2012 for The Golden Lily, the next installment to see if Adrian can put the charm on & crack Sydney's beliefs.