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Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead
Young Adult, Vampires
Paperback (RAZORBILL, 448 pages, $8.99)
ISBN# 1595141979
It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She's having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all...might be seeing ghosts. As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose's forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line--and choose between the two people she loves most.
Author Site:

Kiss St. Vladimir's Academy Good-bye (4 stars)

After the tragedy of Frostbite, Rose and her friends are coping as best they can. Bearing her first molnija marks might be a bit of a status symbol but their earning was bittersweet. As her final months at St. Vladimir's begin winding down the guardians are facing their field experience testing. They'll be facing weeks of practice guarding their Moroi classmates from their instructors pretending to be Strigoi. Expecting to be paired with Lissa, Rose's field experience should be easy. But when she sees the ghostly image of Mason and freezes at her first attack everything goes downhill.

For the first time in her life Rose is beginning to question the life of a Dhampir. Becoming Lissa's guardian means she will never choose what classes to attend or where she will live. The guardian standard "They come first." suddenly doesn't have such a great ring to it. Meanwhile, Lissa continues to practice her spirit magic with Adrian causing turmoil with Christian. When Adrian begins to see how Lissa's magic use is affecting Rose the mystery of St. Vladimir and shadow kissed Anna holds answers Rose isn't ready to face. She's always known she may one day have to give her life to protect Lissa but can she? When an unexpected threat breaks over the academy the students' lives are forever changed but none moreso than Rose who has to choose whether to protect her best friend or fulfill a promise to the man she loves.

As with the first two books, I very much enjoyed being emersed in the world of St. Vlad's. In just three short books Rose has gone from mouthy runaway to seasoned guardian. It was great to see her beginning to question whether she really wants to live her life for Lissa. That aspect of the Dhampir/Moroi relationship has always bugged me. It was also enjoyable seeing Rose put into a position she didn't expect no matter how upset she got.

I will say that I struggled with the pacing this time around. I also felt that the events of Frostbite seemed as if they were being overlooked almost as if they had happened a very long time ago instead of just a couple of weeks. I've always looked forward to Rose's interactions with Christian and Adrian but both characters seemed different this time around, not bad just... as if they weren't being written with their usual stronger personalities. The focus was definitely more on Dimitri and I know many readers of the series adore him but I've always found him boring. I had hoped that the extra focus would make me like him more and approve of his relationship with Rose but I was again unable to find a spark for him. Without spoiling anything I feel it is safe to say that the next book, Blood Promise, will be mostly Rose and Dimitri again.

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