3:22 PM

skva Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

“Don’t worry, little dhampir. You might be surrounded by clouds, but you’ll always be like sunshine to me.”

One thing is certain: Shadow Kiss proves that things just keep getting better in the beloved Vampire Academy series. Or more heartbreaking. First things first: I love that this series toys with my emotions and that Richelle Mead flips me on my ass multiple times. She is a pro at this. I am never quite sure if she is going to make me swoon or cry or a mixture of the boy.

That’s what makes this such a good series to me. It keeps me guessing, it gets me attached, it makes me question a lot in their world. Also, it’s a plus that the characters act like actual teenagers. Rose and Lissa are both highly flawed and in their world it’s almost as if they have to act more grown-up than they should–but their sarcasm, Rose’s recklessness and all their flaws are what make them seem real and it also gives us a promise of development in the future, which is solid.

I repeat, I repeat, I repeat: this is what makes Rose real. Her immaturity can be frustrating. Her sassiness can be obnoxious. But hello? She’s a teenager, guys. Use your heads.

Onto the novel in its own right and in comparison to the rest of the series. It’s even better than the two that came before and that says something. But even as things heat up, stakes raise higher and higher for our favorite Moroi and Dhampir. Nothing and no one is safe, and with more answers come more questions and soul crushing moments. Death in the form of a Strigoi attack still lingers in the shadows and can happen at any moment.

With the loss of her good friend and almost boyfriend Mason playing heavily on her emotions, Rose’s guilt has a chance of drowning her and the darkness becomes unbearable. Balancing that guilt with the life of a soon-to-be guardians training, feelings she shouldn’t be having towards her instructor, Dimitri and the weirdness engulfing her mind could very well prove to be too much for someone of her age.

To make matters worse, that very darkness is toying on something with her mind.

We all have seen the effects of spirit in Rose’s BFF Lissa, and we get glimpses of it in Adrian too (not to mention his self medicating) and we know that they are all in dangerous waters when it comes down to it.

Being shadow-kissed means many things for Rose: the connection she has with Lissa is strong and unique and very useful. But it is also a burden. And the more she finds out about her connection to the other side, after Lissa brought her back to life all those years ago, the more the darkness threatens her sanity.

Spirit is a tricky thing.

Upon all the discoveries Rose, Lissa and Adrian come across in the use of spirit, Rose finds herself with the ability to see and speak to the dead. At first this is brushed aside as guilt as the person she is able to see is Mason, but later it seems to be more and more apparent that this is all too real. But what is it that the dead are trying to tell us?

We get a little more Lissa in this one but not enough. I keep hoping we’ll have more and more development to her character but it just isn’t happening. It doesn’t matter because I still love her but I wish there was more to explore for her. We do get some answers and explanations about her powers and Adrian’s, though, and their friendship is fun. These spirit users have to stick together and will continue to learn from each other in all the right ways.

I’m totally into it.

And we also see more Mia and Eddie this time around. As I had already predicted, Mia’s growth is important. Her connection with Rose and Lissa has changed for the better and she is a very interesting and strong character. I wish she weren’t such a background character but I appreciate the bits she’s gone to provide for the plot and how eager she is to learn how to defend herself.

Eddie is kind of just… there. But that’s not a bad thing. I do hope we learn more about him and see more of him in the future installments. His friendship with Rose is sweet and when he is made Lissa’s guardian for a test he fits right in with Christian, Rose and Lissa and I appreciate that. I love his protectiveness of her; it isn’t built on something of a romantic nature, it is more of a “Mason loved this girl, she doesn’t need protection but I’m going to be here if she does” and I really dig that.

I liked that Rose and Christian’s friendship forms up a lot in this one. Shit really hit the fan when Rose had to take on the role of guardian for him instead of Lissa, but they work well together and their banter is beautiful. We didn’t see enough of it, but what we saw was a joy in my opinion. Especially the team up they pulled towards the end of the novel.

As for other parts of this book. I love Rose’s growth. She still has a very long way to go but she just keeps getting better. I think with Shadow Kiss we’ve seen a more adult, mature side to her. I'm not saying she's suddenly grown up because she does have a long way to go but there are a lot of improvements to her. I like that she always puts Lissa first, but I like how she finally took control of her own life and put herself first this time around–that was something that needed to happen.

I also love her scenes with both Adrian and Dimitri. Both are completely different guys, different personalities/approach but they are fascinating. We see a love triangle going on and I have a pretty good idea who she’ll end up with in the end, but either way I’d be pleased.

Dimitri is absolutely someone who balances her and understands her–I think he makes her better and she makes him better without muddling up who they actually are as individuals. While Adrian brings out a lighter side to her; making her laugh and breath in different ways.

The last quarter of Shadow Kiss is a wild ride. I thought it couldn’t get anymore emotional than Frost Bite. It did and it did so differently. It’s suspenseful, it’s smart, it’s sexy. I was on the edge of my seat when Mason finally spoke to Rose in her sight and when the Strigoi came to battle it out. I was so scared of losing someone and then we did.

Spoiler time: after Rose and Dimitri have sex for the first time, the terrifying undead of their world attack the school and things only go downhill from there on out. We finally think we’ve had peace and resolution in their romance, that things can only grow and go up from her, but we don’t. A long battle ensues and lives are lost, but the school is safe once more by the end of the fight.

At least, as safe as it can be.

One of the lives lost is Dimitri. And even worse, he isn’t just dead… he was changed into a Strigoi. Thus setting out the plot for the next book in which Rose is forced to hut down the only man she has ever loved to kill him. He never wanted this and was turned against his will–the only thing Rose can do is let him go and set free his soul from this damning eternity that was forced on him.

It’s heartbreaking but it sets the perfect foundation for the next book. I’m so ready for part four, I’m feeling all sorts of emotions! And even moreso after Lissa begs Rose to stay and when Adrian helps Rose. Ah, Richelle, must you hurt me so? I’m full of so much feelings but I’m anticipating the next one more than anyone could imagine.

Other pros to the novel: we see more of Adrian, more of the Queen, more of the history and we get a ton of answers. And of course there is the fast paced witty dialogue, the kickass action sequences and a bunch of steamy romance. Richelle Mead has basically made me her bitch with this series and I can’t complain.

Again. Vampire Academy is the best in its genre. If you have not read it… you are truly missing out.

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