*Minor spoilers ahead.*
Being shadow kissed can have its advantages, like being able to see through your bondmate’s eyes, which can have advantages and disadvantages of its own. Then there’s the other thing, being able to see ghosts. Of course, no one tells you about that, because there are no other shadow kissed people around, hence Rose’s dilemma. One of many.
Here’s the issue with Richelle Mead’s writing that frustrates me a bit. She’s really big on the “slow buildup.” I mean, her books are around 400+ pages long, and in the first 85%-90% of the book, it’s pretty much all drama. Not that I don’t like drama, but some of it feels more like filler, and then there’s the part where she retells events from the previous books, basically reminding the reader of one thing or another about a person or event.
I suppose if you were reading the books in the usual manner of having to wait a year for the next one, the author’s retelling wouldn’t be such a bother. Unfortunately, in my binge-reading method, that is not the case, so it can be a bit of a nuisance being told of what happened in the last book(s) when I’ve just read them.
Aside from that, this story takes on a new level as Rose, along with her fellow soon-to-be-graduating dhampirs, has to go through field experience, which means they act like an official guardian to an assigned fellow Moroi for six weeks, following their assignment to their classes (having to take none themselves during this time) and protecting their Moroi from Strigoi “attacks”, planned out by the actual guardians on campus.
Of course, for Rose, nothing is as easy as she had thought it would be, as she’s assigned to someone that’s not her best friend, Lissa. The situation is humorous and I enjoyed that.
And then with Adrian Ivashkov now on campus, not as a student, but as an guide of sorts to help Lissa work on her spirit power, since he’s the only other spirit user around, Rose has to deal with his flirtatious ways.
With these issues surrounding her, seeing ghosts, a new aspect of Lissa and Rose’s bond being revealed, Adrian’s obvious attraction to Rose, the situation with a certain bad guy that apparently hadn’t been dealt with yet, and some other developments throughout, they can make for some interesting storytelling. Not to mention Rose and Dimitri’s unending attraction to each other, it can spin anyone’s head.
However, with all these issues swirling, it still feels like the book could’ve been shortened just a tad to make for better pacing. I just felt some of it was dragged out a bit, but I’m rare in my judgment of this, I think.
Regarding character developments, Rose has grown up a little more due to the horrible event from the previous book, and Dimitri continues to show how much he really cares for her, and some other side characters come out with some of their own changes to how things should at the academy.
The big battle scene at the end definitely made up for the slow pacing of the book, I have to admit. I knew that the battle was going to instill another future problem for Rose, as well as Dimitri, and I predicted to myself that it might change everything for her, but I still found it intriguing and heartfelt.