Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
(Paperback, Razorbill, 2009)
Rose Hathaway is busy learning to be a guardian at St. Vladimir's Academy. She is a dhampir, part human and part vampire, which means she has a super strength and agility that enables her to protect the Moroi (full vampires). Fresh off her first Strigoi (bad vampire) kill, Rose is battling feelings of anger and guilt. To top it off, she's seeing the ghost of one of her dead friends. Rose's teachers and friends believe that she is suffering from stress. Dimitri, her mentor and the secret love of her life, is the only person she can turn to with her problems. But evil is threatening the Academy and Rose must focus on protecting her friends.
I read Frostbite as a panelist for the Cybils Award in Fantasy and Science Fiction late last year. I hadn't read the first book in the series, Vampire Academy, but I decided to dive into Frostbite anyway. Immediately, I was hooked. The combination of 'good' vampires, evil vampires, half-vampires, and magic was utterly fascinating. Shadow Kiss picks up three weeks after Frostbite left off, with Rose still reeling from losing a friend. Rose's character is gritty and strong, and she has enough of a mouth to make her spunky. I love when heroines don't blindly accept the rules and judgments of their superiors. Richelle Mead plays with this idea by having Dimitri be Rose's mentor and her friend. It's fun to watch him battle his conflicting duty to curb her unruliness and his desire to let her rebelliousness break free. One of my favorite things about the series is watching Rose's friend Lissa learn how to control her magic. Lissa's magic is rare and so we learn about it as Lissa does, in little increments throughout the books. Rose's spunk and wit, combined with Mead's intricate world, make this a great series for any fantasy fan. Fair warning though...the ending of this book will leave you begging for Book 4, Blood Promise, which is due out in July 2009.
Read The Compulsive Reader's review . She and I recently swapped our theories about the upcoming book.