“At the end of Secret Lives, Cassie was tricked by Richard and abducted by a small group of the Few who were under Madame Azzidene’s orders. A bound and gagged Cassie was forced to become a host for Madame Azzidene’s spirit Estelle. Ranjit, Jake and Isabelle interrupted the initiation ceremony in a rescue attempt and as a result only half of Estelle’s spirit fused with Cassie’s. In Blood Ties, the second installment in the Darke Academy series, Cassie is back at the children’s home on a Christmas break. Her struggle to host the malevolent Estelle and keep her own sense of self while trying to ignore the gnawing hunger that demands to be satisfied is starting to take its toll. She returns to the Darke Academy, this time in New York and to her relief is reunited with her friends Ranjit, Isabelle and Jake.
Sir Alaric warns Cassie that she must feed soon and that he will help her to do it the safe way. To Cassie’s amazement Isabelle offers to be her life force but the two are forced to conceal this from Jake who is still trying to bring the culprits responsible for the death of his sister to justice. Jake hacks into the FBI Computers and now must race against time to save himself being captured by the FBI and turned over to the Elder Council of The Few.
Ranjit urges Cassie to get to know the other Few members who welcome her to the fold. Cassie learns that some members of the Few are hosts to both strong and weak spirits. To her surprise, Richard’s spirit is weak. Ranjit along with Cassie has a very strong spirit and as a result the Few recognise their status as such.
Cassie discovers she has powers that are lacking in the other Few members and at first manages to conceal them. With Estelle bent on taking control of Cassie’s body it becomes harder and harder for Cassie to conceal. When an old enemy returns, bent on revenge, Cassie is tested to the limit. Can she rescue her friends from a horrific fate, or will she end up destroying them to save herself?
This is a slighter darker book than the first. While Cassie and Isabelle become closer and her romance with Ranjit blossoms, Cassie struggles to keep Estelle’s manipulative tendencies at bay. It was slightly convenient that Katerine’s mother was on the Elder’s Council. Jake’s whole attitude has become annoying in this installment, granted that he wants to bring his sister’s murderers to justice. He’s out of his league however and it’s only by Cassie quick thinking that he lives to see another day. The scene where Jake was about to be fed to the Living Soil was vivid and disturbing.
Once again I found myself exasperated by Cassie’s choices and her ability to just not hear what people who are trying to help her are trying to tell her. Examples are Patrick, Ranjit and Sir Alric. Both Cassie and Ranjit’s obviously have a bad history and apparently are a lethal combination, but instead of understanding Ranjit’s caution and Sir Alric’s concern, Cassie rebukes them both. Richard redeemed himself in this installment by telling Cassie Jake’s possible whereabouts. ”