St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
Okay, so as I’ve mentioned, I did not want to read this series. Although I absolutely adore Richelle Mead’s ‘Dark Swan’ books, for some reason the idea of a school for vampires didn’t appeal to me at all. Especially when I saw pictures of girls dressing up in t-shirts with slogans like ‘Team Dimitri’ written on them in shiny letters for some sort of VA party. It was all too reminiscent of Twilight, and I put my foot down.
The fact that my friend Ella—who has impeccable taste in urban fantasy and is 100% pickier than me—said that she quite liked them should have told me something. The fact that Hannah from 'Tales of a Teenage Hermit' was willing to make a bet with me over reading them should have clued me in. But no. I stubbornly resisted until there was nothing else to buy in the local bookstore. Desperate for a UF fix, I dove in.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I loved it.
The world building is exactly my cup of tea—there are vampires, of course, but of two types: Strigoi, who are the evil and immortal vamps that dominate horror films, and Moroi, the ‘good’ but weak and mortal vamps. And of course, because vampires always get together with humans no matter what universe we're in, (and there’s no Stephenie Meyer they-can’t-have-kids pretenses here) there are half human, half vampire Dhampir, the race our protagonist Rose Hathaway belongs to.
I liked Rose, and not just because of her spunky attitude—the fact that for once we’re reading about the bodyguard and not the princess was hugely refreshing. Sure, Rose isn’t exactly the epitome of purity and kindness, but it worked for her. That’s saying a lot coming from me—the fact that Zoey from the House of Night series had a couple of guys on the go at a time completely turned me off of the series. Rose, at least, has standards, and with her back-story it also makes much more sense. Plus, her little Turkish connection? Woo-hoo!
I wasn’t as much of a fan of Lissa—I guess it makes sense here, too, but I felt that she didn’t feel half the connection to Rose as Rose felt to her. That dynamic kind of killed the best friend thing for me, as did the fact that she was fragile and weak. I know that’s not her fault, but I definitely prefer warrior women characters, a trend probably started by my obsession with Tamora Pierce’s books. (Which, incidentally, were a huge factor in me taking up fencing.)
Those who’ve read the books will be waiting for my thoughts on Dimitri—and of course, I did like the guy. (See my above comment about liking characters who can fight.) Their relationship kind of reminded me of Daine and Numair in Tamora Pierce’s ‘The Immortals’ series, which I was a huge fan of. If you haven’t read those… go do so now! The supporting cast was also a lot of fun, from the goofy Mason to the spooky-crazy Ms. Karp, and the outcast but awesome Christian.
The plot was fast moving with a nice mix of teenage and magical drama that didn’t lag. I found a couple of plot elements predictable, but I attribute this the to fact that Ella ALWAYS figures out what will happen in a book when she’s about halfway through and I feel really pathetic when I can’t keep up, so my radar must be improving to remedy the issue!
The one thing I didn’t really enjoy was the cover, but again, I tend to dislike the full frontal model approach. Now that I’ve read book one, no kind of rubbish cover can stop me from reading on!
Anxious to read it? Check out an excerpt here!