Rose Hathaway knows it is forbidden to love another guardian. Her best friend, Lissa-the last Dragomir princess-must always come first. Unfortunately, when it comes to gorgeous Dimitri Belikov, some rules are meant to be broken…
But since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn’t been feeling right. Something dark has begun to grow in her mind, and ghostly shadows warn of a terrible evil drawing nearer to the Academy’s iron gates. And now that Lissa and Rose’s sworn enemy, Victor Dashkov, is on trial for his freedom, tensions in the Moroi world are higher than ever.
Lying to Lissa about Dimitri is one thing but suddenly there’s way more than friendship at stake. The immortal undead are on the prowl, and they want vengeance for the lives that Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle to rival her worst nightmare, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most..but will her choice mean that only one can survive?
**warning – may contain spoilers**
‘Shadow Kiss‘ is the 3rd book in the ‘Vampire Academy’ series, and although it’s my least favourite in the series so far, I still loved it.
However, as with ‘Frostbite‘, I found Rose to be a little bit whiney. When I first met her in ‘Vampire Academy‘ I didn’t feel this at all. Rose and her best friend, Lissa, were living in the real world amongst humans and had to grow up pretty quickly to survive on their own. Rose showed a lot of maturity for her seventeen years and it was refreshing.
Unfortunately, being back at the academy for a few months has turned Rose into a very petulant teenager, and annoyingly so. She’s definitely a spirited character and her snarkiness is what I love so much about her, but in ‘Shadow Kiss’ it verged more on the side of ‘brat’. This was a bit disappointing as Rose was coming into her own quite nicely, and after killing her first Strigoi and losing a close friend I thought this was a bit of a setback in her character development. There is a lot more teenage angst in ‘Shadow Kiss’, which did get a bit tedious at times.
Rose also begins to keep secrets, which I really didn’t like or to be honest understand as she knows her best friend Lissa would support her through anything. I kept rolling my eyes in wonderment at why she wouldn’t share these secrets with Lissa, but Rose continued to keep her feelings for Dimitri under wraps as she did with many aspects of her life.
Despite this, Rose really comes into her own when she’s fighting – there are a lot of action scenes with Rose and others fighting especially when it’s the Guardians field experience, a part of their training they have to pass to graduate and become fully fledged Guardians. And when the academy is attacked by Strigoi, Rose puts herself on the front line and shows her true nature: a fierce and loyal guardian. This is the Rose I love.
Rose has a few personal issues to deal with too. She’s feeling things that she doesn’t understand and seeing things that can’t be real – can the shadows really be ghosts or is she going crazy?
She can also sense when Strigoi are near by a feeling of nausea that comes without warning, which although annoying is very useful. A friend comes back from the dead to help Rose, which was a nice farewell to the character.
Lissa is also showing a bit of immaturity…she’s quite selfish, especially at the end of ‘Shadow Kiss’ when Rose has to leave to find Dimitri. There is no understanding from Lissa at all. I realise she doesn’t understand the full extent of Rose’s relationship with Dimitri but her reaction is still a selfish one.
The other characters such as Christian and Adrian are great characters and a pleasure to read. Christian is as snarky as Rose and I love their banter. Adrian is funny and I like his one liners, he makes me chuckle.
Rose and Dimitri become very close in this instalment (yes!) and things begin to heat up between them. They totally admit their feelings and they show their love for one another in a cabin in the woods.
However, from moments of utter bliss of being with each other in the cabin, Rose and Dimitri are set upon by the undead, and this is where the story becomes even more thrilling.
I will say one of the things I love about Mead’s writing is that she doesn’t shy away from tough subjects. In ‘Vampire Academy’ and ‘Frostbite’ she touches on self-harm and deals with it well. With regards to love, relationships and sex she brings a sophisticated tone to the text and each character thinks about such things before diving in. However, in ‘Shadow kiss’ I felt this dwindled by the inclusion of unprotected sex. I understand teenagers don’t want to be talked down to but even in adult books protection is discussed in a way that fits in with the sexual scene.
And although intimate scenes aren’t described in detail, this is a YA novel after all, I did think that skimming over something like this wasn’t right. After so carefully crafting a story which delivered the message that sleeping around wasn’t cool, but a deep loving relationship was, I am disappointed it wasn’t tackled and instead left two characters having unprotected sex. Not cool.
However, this in no way diminished my enjoyment of what is an exciting and amazing young adult paranormal novel. It’s snarky in places and sensitive in others. The sexual tension is fantastic and all the characters are wonderfully rounded – I love them all.
The ending to ‘Shadow Kiss‘ is the best aspect to this novel. My heart was in my throat and I am not embarrassed to say I shed a tear – I couldn’t believe the twist (although I sort of saw it coming). Why did this have to happen!?
There is also no stopping my full-blown obsession for powerful, delicious, complex Dimitri…which is why the ending was so hard to bear…*sniff*
Richelle Mead has created a series I am growing to love more and more with each book. I cannot read the next book fast enough! All I can say is: if you haven’t started this series yet, then do – it’s fantastic!
SOURCE: Thank you to Penguin for sending me this book for review
Look out for my interview with Richelle Mead tomorrow!
You can find out more about the author here: