“Shadow Kiss” by Richelle Mead

I know, I don’t usually post series this close together but the book situation in my house is a little dire. So you may be getting similar books back to back for a little while.

So, yes, I’ve been reading Vampire Academy practically back to back. Book three, “Shadow Kiss” continues on the story of Rose and Lissa, and their relationships and diving further into what being “shadow-kissed” means. A bit of a spoiler if you haven’t read the reviews or the books, but when the girls were younger, Lissa’s entire family was killed in a car crash. Rose was also in that car crash, and died. But Lissa, in the midst of panic and despair, brought her back from the dead. This created a bond between the girls, more than “friends”. Rose can slip in and out of Lissa’s mind, she can sense her emotions and energy, and in this book, she learns that she can pull out the depression from Lissa that Spirit magic creates. The girls do more research in this book, about Lord Vladimir and his guardian Anna. Anna drew out Vladimir’s “insanity” after every time he used spirit, and it drove her to commit suicide. This series doesn’t shy away from depression, suicide, and therapy. I will give it credit for that.

While that is a sub-plot of the book that has so far been carried through the first three books, it is not the main story. After the last book with Moroi and Dhampir wanting to fight together against the Strigoi, that has continued through the students creating a division of power. Rose noticed that some students were showing up covered in wounds, and refusing to explain how a third degree burn came from falling down the stairs.

With this new threat from among the student body, the Guardians final test where they shadow a Moroi while senior Guardians pretend to be Strigoi and “attack” the Moroi, the trial of Lissa’s Uncle (and the “bad guy” from book 1), and lastly Rose seeing ghosts, the book is constantly moving.

While I do enjoy these books, this one hit the ick factor for me a little too hard. In the bast two books, Rose was developing a crush and somewhat of a relationship with her much older Guardian Trainer Dimitri. She’s 17 (on the verge of turning 18 – but still), and he’s about 25 or so? So in legal terms, that’s statutory rape, which was even brought up during the trial (Victor trying to throw shade just to mess with Rose and Dimitri). I understand the point of it, this idea is in every piece of media ever. The guy falling in love with her for her “maturity” and whatever, doesn’t make it less icky. In this book they finally have sex and realize they want a relationship, and he’s in love with her, blah-blah …it’s also called grooming. And still icky. I’m probably part of a minority that has an issue with this, but a little while ago in the twittersphere many people (especially artists I adore) were talking about how superiors coerced them into relationships, they talked about the manipulation and grooming that happened in all these fields, and how commonplace it is. Even some YouTubers I enjoyed were revealed to be groomers. So I have no tolerance for that kind of thing. It really soured me for the book so while I enjoyed the story, I couldn’t forgive it for that.

The series is still a great quick brainless read if like me, you can’t resist a decently written vampire story.

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