ONLY A TRUE BEST FRIEND CAN PROTECT YOU FROM YOUR IMMORTAL ENEMIES…
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.
After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger… and the Strigoi are always close by.
Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever…
MY THOUGHTS ARE SO MIXED ON THIS BOOK ARGH. I went into this book thinking this is my jam, not only do I love vampires but I’m all about the drama that might come along with a book set in a high school academy, bring it on. And yet it took me forever to get in to this one. Honestly, if I weren’t reading this for a square on my reading bingo challenge I would have DNF’ed it about 30% of the way into it. BUT. We’ll get to the ‘but’ in a bit.
Things started off bad about 20 pages in when I had to side-eye the fuck out of this book after reading this part:
That genetic combination had given me skin the same color as the inside of an almond, along with what I liked to think were semi-exotic desert-princess features
I mean….really? LOL okay. *insert giant eye-roll here*
The worst part for me is that I started off really disliking the POV character, Rose. She’s overbearing and controlling and she seems like she’s in some kind of bad mood for absolutely no reason. Once you get beyond the first few pages you get the feeling that Rose and Lissa are not so much best friends as…well…not friends but some kind of people who are forced to be together due to this one-way psychic bond they share. Rose seems awfully nonchalant about the bond too, even though it keeps making her violate her friend’s privacy. Then just straight up tells Lissa what to do, ordering her around. I get that she’s worried but I don’t think that’s how a true friend should behave so I kind of hated her for a while. Like, a loooong while. Like 45-ish percent of the book. And Lissa doesn’t like being told what to do (because who does?), but isn’t quite avoiding being a doormat either, at least not for a while. It’s like she’s torn between brushing Rose off and doing her own thing and caving in to Rose’s demands. It makes for a weird dynamic.
Damn this book pulling me in! In an effort to not give away too much of the plot ‘stuff happens’. Lissa is clearly being targeted but you’re not sure if it’s just mean girls at school mad that Lissa’s back and might steal their boyfriends or if it’s something more sinister at play. Meanwhile, Rose is an asshole but then realizing she’s wrong about some things actually kind of apologizes and starts being slightly less of an asshole? Respect, I guess. Some background stuff is revealed over the course and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t liking Rose by the end of this. SIGH. I was prepared to fully hate this book but now I can’t because I actually enjoyed the last half of it, a lot. The characters and the way they act suddenly made sense and all kinds of things started falling into place for me. And also because I’m me I’m like ‘omg what’s going to happen between Rose and Dimitri???’ at the same time fully agreeing with Dimitri’s assessment of the situation because, yeah, she’s still in high school, dude!
There is some world-building stuff in here regarding the vampires and guardians that, quite frankly, still doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me, but I guess I’m going to give that a pass for now. At the end of the day, the book picked up when it needed to and got me hooked. And now I’m stuck wanting to read the next one. DAMMIT. I just hope the next one doesn’t start off as slow and that Rose continues to improve her likability factor. 3.5/5 stars.