I actually found this addition to the series more interesting than the previous one. That was because of several things. On the one hand there is a lot more magic than before, which was interesting and exciting. I also love little Hopper. How cute is that? I also loved how much Adrian was in this book. He had been my favourite character since he was introduced, and I'm still hoping for a second movie just to have someone cast as him. I also loved how we got to know more about the inner workings of the Alchemists. BTW, Sydney's father is still awful. Worse than my own.
Sydney changed a lot since the first book. Part of it is because she had to do things in order to survive and to save the people she cares about. She also learned to care for people, and to just see them as people. I felt like she's becoming a new person, but someone whom she had in her all this time, but was forced to the sidelines by indoctrination. The process is basically breaking out of a cult. She no longer worships the leaders, thinks they can do no wrong, believes in the doctrines without question, and thinks everyone outside the cult is evil or weak. Once she's completely out, she will be a force to be reckoned with.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot in the series. However, I do feel that I may put off the next book a bit, or stop on the way, because I've been reading in this world for many months, and I feel an urge to look at other things. The last book isn't out yet, so it's not like I'm going to finish this series until then. I'll see.