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bp Blood Promise (VA #4) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

If your eyes weren't open, you wouldn't know the difference between dreaming and waking.

Armed with a mission–one devastating task–Rose Hathaway has left behind the comfort of her best friend and school all to pursue and kill the man she loves. In the events of the third book in the much beloved Vampire Academy novels, Rose’s school was under attack by the notoriously evil undead Strigoi and in this very battle a great deal is lost. But the biggest loss in the end was that of Dimitri Belikov–Rose’s instructor and the man she loves–is changed into a Strigoi against his will.

With loss beating down on her, a piece of her missing, Rose decides to take matters in her own hands and kill the monster he has become. Dimitri did not want this life. Dimitri was no longer Dimitri and Rose knows that the freeing of his soul is what he would have wanted. As a guardian-to-be, Rose Hathaway is trained for this sort of kill.

Taking off with some cash that her friend Adrian Ivashkov loaned, Rose sets off to travel the world and hunt Dimitri down. After choosing this mission over staying in school, Rose’s emotions are torn: being separated from Lissa destroys her in a way different from the loss of Dimitri. And if you pair this with the loss of her friend Mason back in Frost Bite, it’s easy to see that Rose is in a very fragile place when it comes down to losses.

Nonetheless, she takes off with a promise to return and to one day give Adrian a chance to sweep her off her feet. Heavy heart and all, she wonders if she’ll ever be the same or if she will even make it out alive. Times are troubling in their world and it’s taking a lot on her to survive.

Following a hunch, she heads to Russia in hopes she’d find her target, Dimitri, there–but this isn’t without a few bumps along the way. Blood Promise is a fast and thrilling installment to an already stellar series and will leave readers breathless and heartbroken.

We’re introduced to quite a lot in this round. With a setting in different parts of the world we see a lot more scenery and newness. We’ve also got the introduction of a set of solid and important characters: Dimitri’s family being a big part of it and then in specifics the alchemist, Sydney Sage (who is standoffish but easy to be fond of) and the mysterious and mafia-ish Moroi, Abe.

I wasn’t all that shocked to find out who Abe was and why he was so concerned about Rose. In fact, I loved their scenes a lot. There’s a common ground there and their attitudes and personalities are quite similar, so it’s fun to see them clash. Abe and Rose’s scenes are some of the funnest, most humorous scenes in Blood Promise and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I also loved Sydney and Rose’s scenes at the start of the novel. I would love to know more about the Alchemists. But back to this friendship... they are both so different from each other and Sydney has a lot of things to work out when it comes to her beliefs but they work well together and I liked that they grew to care for one another as quickly as they did. Rose is so very alone now that Dimitri is gone and Lissa is so far away that she needed a friendship and while I wouldn’t go so far to say they became friends it was still good to see.

In even more excitement, we meet another spirit user and then a shadow-kissed soul. It’s exciting and they are such an important part to our story. Rose learns quite a lot from them and they are just fascinating to have around. More and more spirit users and shadow-kissed people are coming out of this world and it makes us believe that Rose, Lissa and Adrian are far from alone.

Rose travels and travels in the danger, meeting new people and killing strings of Strigoi along the way as she hunts down her love. But soon she finds that things will not be going as she had planned and before long she does find Dimitri–changed and terrifying. Unfortunately for her he seems to have been looking for her and anticipating the moment she’d fall into his clutches.

She becomes his prisoner. And he has plans of his own for her fate–compulsion, seduction, betrayal and more, Dimitri keeps her for himself and showers her with jewels. His biggest plan? Turn Rose into a Strigoi so they could have each other forever. Not out of love, but possession and power.

These moments are terrifying and heartbreaking and left me in tears. It seems we’ve lost, truly lost, Dimitri. We as readers expected it but seeing it? Seeing him as cruel and murderous and blood chillingly bad? I shudder. I can’t believe it. It’s an effect I never expected and the more he compels Rose into submission, the more terrifying it becomes.

Can she escape? Can she escape his cruelty and feeding and manipulation–or is she, too, destined to be changed into a monster? Fortunately for readers, she does escape and tries to kill him. It’s so heartbreaking when we’re lead to believe that she did. Unfortunately for her… well, she didn’t. And his patience is running thin.

Richelle Mead, you are the devil. And I love you for it.

As for other plots…

Back at St. Vladamir’s, Lissa is struggling to live life without her best friend.

She still has Christian and Adrian, thankfully, but it isn’t the same thing as having Rose with her. Much like Rose, she feels as though a piece of herself is missing.

It’s devastating to see. But life goes on, she decides, and gradually goes through the motions when it comes to living as normally as possible. This includes befriend a newcomer, Avery Lazar, who is just what she thinks she needs at the moment: fun-loving, vivacious, she clicks with her almost immediately and gradually this fills up the hole in her heart left by Rose.

Even better, Avery fits right in with her other friends and before you know it Adrian, Avery, Christian and Lissa are the best of friends. It’s a different dynamic but it’s still a relief to them. Add in the always sweet and eager Jill and we’ve got a great distraction for Lissa in Rose’s absence.

But the thing is… it all felt almost too easy. Avery seems to bring out the worst in Lissa. Darkness peeks in every now and again and Rose can only take so much of it from her friend to keep her calm. Avery leads Lissa down a road of drinking and partying that is not unlike how the girls had once behaved and these changes seem to concern a lot of people.

There’s something not right with Avery’s brother, either.

After a disastrous trip the gang, minus Christian, make to Court, Lissa’s life is turned upside down once more. She drunkenly kissed her ex-boyfriend and Jill tattled on her to Christian (rightfully so) and now her relationship is in the ground.

Her life is thrown in danger once Avery’s real intentions and powers are revealed. Somehow, she disguised her aura from both Lissa and Adrian and is revealed to be a spirit user as well. We’re unsure what her plans were but it would seem she wanted to bond with Lissa and shadow-kiss her. After blocking out Rose from Lissa’s mind, she attempts to kill the girl but not without being overpowered by Rose with the help of Oksanna, the other spirit user Rose met earlier in the book.

By the end of the novel, everything is in jeopardy. Lissa and Christian are on a break, Rose is home but being stalked by Dimitri and ready to return to school with the newfound information on Abe being her father. But what could possibly happen next? And is there a way to prevent it?

More importantly… is there a way to save Dimitri? While his character is a favorite of mine and I think he makes a fascinating and terrifying villain, I can't help but to hope to have him back to normal by series end. He is such an interesting character no matter if he is the villain or the romantic lead.

After the climax plays out, things start to go back to normal. Thankfully, Lissa and Rose makeup by the end of the novel. As does Rose and Adrian. But there’s plenty to make up for and clean up after Avery’s mess. At least she is gone. Overall, Blood Promise is the best of the series yet–it’s emotional, it’s creepy, it’s fun. I loved every minute of it and couldn’t look away even if I wanted to. I’m excited to see the next book and where it goes.

There was so much development in this one. Rose keeps on growing and showing just how selfless she can be and I love her for it. Hands down, she is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. I just love this book so much.

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