Can I say again how much I wish the covers to this series were a little edgier? This is such a quality YA/cross-over series, but the cover art does it no justice (no offence to everyone involved but it put me off for a long time).
OK, now I’ve got that out of the way… what follows is look at the fourth book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series (past reviews here and here). If you’ve read the first three books but not this one, you won’t find any spoilers here. If you haven’t read the other books yet – and plan to – stop reading now!
Blood Promise takes Rose and the series into new and darker territory, as the dhampir goes on the hunt for Dimitri in Russia. It’s not giving too much away to say that Rose meets a long list of interesting characters with mixed motives.
The clever plot device allowing Rose to see the world through Lissa’s eyes proves very handy. It allows a change in perception, the appearance of familiar characters, and also creates another thread of tension.
Occasionally the perception shift raises some time continuity issues, but it works well to show how Lissa copes without Rose and their bond (no prizes for guessing the answer there).
What Mead does particularly well in this book is deal with the issue of addiction. Rose struggles with the ultimate temptation in Russia and doesn’t always succeed in resisting it. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch Rose – usually such a hot-headed fighter – give in to the oblivion, but it at least gives her experience a sense of truth. And makes her ultimate choice that much more meaningful.
We learn more about the nature of Strigoi, and the social attitudes of dhampir away from the walls of the heavily structured St Vlad’s campus. There’s real growth in Rose and Lissa’s relationship as well – paralleling the changing dynamic between the Moroi and their dhampir guardians.
All in all, this is a good addition to the series, setting up plenty of conflict and plot development for Spirit Bound (the second last in the series). There are so many threads at play here, I’m curious to see how Mead will pull them all together in the next two books.