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Richelle Mead packs shocking surprises into series' final installment, 'The Ruby Circle'
9781595143228 large The Ruby Circle
"The Ruby Circle" is the final book in Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series. - photo by Hikari Loftus
After nine years and 12 books, author Richelle Mead brings the world she created in her best-selling Vampire Academy series and its spinoff series, Bloodlines, to a close with a series of surprises that are sure to excite its dedicated fandom.

There is definitely a handful of things that I put in this book that have been things readers have asked about or for, Mead said in an interview on "The Ruby Circle: A Bloodlines Novel" (Razorbill, $18.99, 15 and up). There are things that readers who love the characters and who love the world have wanted to know. I finally revealed certain things, certain burning mysteries that people have wondered about.

Mead had to reassure her editor that although much of the reader-petitioned information she wrote didnt have to do with the plot, it would be worth it to fans who were dying to know the details.

I think readers are going to be pretty excited about some of it, Mead said.

With five previous books in the Bloodlines series, plus related character storylines coming from the six books in the Vampire Academy series, Mead settled in to finish with an ending that would tie up all the loose ends.

When you start a series, youve got maybe one or two plots going on. But after six books, its just subplots and there is so much going on, Mead said. And suddenly, you get to that last book and youre like, Whoa! Look at all this! So it does become difficult to wrangle all of that."

Even though Mead plans her series in advance and the Bloodlines series went according to her plan, there were still many tiny subplots that werent easy to resolve.

This is such an emotional and interpersonal book, Mead said of "The Ruby Circle." I was so into that aspect that I was like, Oh, I want to work on these characters relationships, and I was like, Wait, no, no, you have this critical piece of the world you need to get back to. I had to keep myself on task.

The freedom and ability to take things traditionally frightening and nonhuman and give them human characteristics that readers can relate to is what Mead said she enjoys most about writing in the paranormal genre.

I think thats kind of a cool juxtaposition, and really, at the end of the day, human emotions, even in vampire characters, are what Im interested in, Mead said. Im interested in their love and pain and grief. I realize that sounds very strange, but that is what Im going for.

In "The Ruby Circle," Sydney Sage Ivashkov and Adrian Ivashkov, alongside their friends Rosemarie Hathaway and Dimitri Belikov, set out on a dangerous rescue mission for one of their closest friends. While the mission is dangerous and exhausting enough, newlyweds Sydney and Adrian are also still working on big issues in their marriage and dealing with the stress of living at Court.

Along the way, Adrian stumbles into a secret that could change their world as they know it, resulting in a read that makes for an emotional roller coaster in all the best ways.

For fans of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series, Mead makes the final journey full of surprises, well-timed humor and old enemies returned.

I try not to do things just for effect, Mead said. It's hard to explain. I try to make the characters feel real, basically. So Im not just like, Oh, what sounds exciting? Oh, they do this, or they fall in love.' I try to draw from my own life experiences: How did you feel, what was your gut like?

Mead spoke about the pressure of finishing a series, noting that fans she's heard from are sad to see it end and that she's worked hard to make them feel good about the ending.

You want them to feel like it was worth it for everything they have gone through in the series, and you need to wrap things up, and that can be hard. Especially when you are like me, who loves to end on cliffhangers, Mead said with a laugh.

Mead found the characters Rose and Dimitri to be the most difficult of all the things that needed to be tied up because of how popular they are among fans. Giving their story a satisfying ending left Mead walking a tough line between a good ending and trying not to get carried away with ideas that would require another book.

Ive put a lot into this world, Mead said. Even though at the moment Im saying I need a break from it I cant rule out that I might want to go back to it.

"The Ruby Circle" ends in a satisfying way, but Mead made sure to leave a tiny thread available in case she decides to weave another story someday.

The book contains some mild language, mildly described violence and implied sexual content.

Its bittersweet (to finish the series), and its a relief in some ways because Ive been doing it for so long, Mead said. You get so familiar with the world and the characters that writing gets easy. There are other stories and ideas I would like to try. As a writer, I dont want to get too comfortable. I dont want to get into a rut.