Saturday, 30 July 2011

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

First published in Great Britain in: 2010
By: Penguin Books

It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy and Rose is close to graduation, but since making her first Strigoi kills, things haven't felt quite right. She's having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all . . . might be seeing ghosts. 

Consumed by her forbidden love with her tutor Dimitri and protecting her best friend, the Moroi princess Lissa, Rose is in no state to see the deadly threat that will change her entire world - and make her choose between the two people she loves most.

My review:

Like many series, each passing book of Vampire Academy becomes less of a stand-alone story and more a furthering of the overall arc. I could say that this is the one where Rose sees dead people, but really Shadow Kiss is about developing the story and the reader learning more about Rose's powers, the moroi-dhampir world and Rose's eventual place in it.

I'm always wary when a book in a series suddenly makes a huge jump in length (I'm looking at you, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Could be that the story required it, or it could be that the editor wasn't strict enough. Shadow Kiss is almost twice the number of pages as the previous 2 Vampire Academy books and because of this, it's not as tightly paced as they were and the story does meander a bit before we get to the goods. There's field training going on for the dhampirs and Rose and Lissa visit the moroi court and there's some cool stuff: I particularly liked getting to meet a male blood-whore and any scene with Adrian in it. And Rose actually starting to question her choices as a dhampir and whether she wants to live such a restricted life is fascinating to me and I hope that becomes an issue with all the dhampirs. But 200 or so pages in, I did start to wonder where all this was heading.

However, where it did lead was, frankly, awesome. Did I see it coming? Well, when it seems like characters are happy and everything is working out for them, you know the sky's about to fall down. Those are just the rules. But it doesn't make what happens in Shadow Kiss any less shocking, dramatic, heart-breaking, everything. And it still took balls for Richelle Mead to go there - almost everything that drove this series (Rose and Lissa's friendship, the teen drama at St Vladimir's, Rose's forbidden love for Dimitri) has changed and that's a big risk for the author to take, but I am desperate to read what happens next.

Rating: 4 stars

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