The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (review: Blood Promise; R. Mead)

Blood Promise
Richelle Mead
Razorbill 2011 (this edition)

Blood Promise is the fourth book in the Vampire Academy series so if you've not read the first three then go away and read them as this review contains spoilers for all three.

Another day, another Vampire Academy review. I've now reached book four of the series and have to admit that his one is a bit of a winner. Continuing with the rise of tension, action, intrigue and information that started to build in Shadow Kiss, this installment sees Rose undertaking her biggest challenge so far. The action moves away from St. Vlad's and we find Rose in Russia, having flirted a rather large amount of money out of Adrian to get there. She's searching for Dimitri's hometown, hoping that it is there he will have returned to in his new incarnation as something rather less soulful than previously. I couldn't quite understand her logic here – would he really just turn up at home, drawling “hey maw, look at my new red eyes... you like?”. Still, the Russian setting works really well and it's nice to see the inside of a town of “blood whores” who turn actually out to be reasonably respectable. Also, from this point on Dimitri will be known only as Strimitri for the sole purpose of my own amusement.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Lissa is still sitting around feeling sorry for herself. I don't have much to say about this except that she really pissed me off with her self-centred attitude which she takes to a whole new level in this story. However, she does have a new friend, Avery, who may or may not be encouraging her thoughtless behaviour and that storyline is actually pretty interesting. It was also nice to see Lissa start to rethink her friendship with Rose and question her own actions (although it was almost too little, too late for me). Christian takes a back seat in this episode, which was a shame as I really like the way his character has developed. I can see, though, that it was necessary for Lissa's progression that Christian wasn't continuously about telling her how wonderful she was. Adrian is becoming increasingly interesting, seeming less of a playboy and more of a rather lovely character. As I have mentioned previously, I liked his brand of crazy from the start.....

The plot itself throws in some interesting new characters. Strimitri's family are extremely well portrayed, offering Rose the kind of home that she's never had before. I could understand the comfort that she gleaned from their love, although I felt that this section of the book was perhaps a tad overlong. Another new face is the mysterious Abe, all gold jewelry and possible mafia connections, he's pretty interesting. However, I guessed who he was within five seconds of his first appearance and so the big reveal later on fell pretty flat (although it was hilariously written). Throughout the book Rose picks up new information about Spirit users and everything she learns has implications – both positive and negative – for her future. When she finally tracks down Strimitri, it's all rather heart-breaking. What do you do if the love of your life is dead, yet standing in front of you, flesh and blood ( on flesh and blood)? It's an interesting conundrum and Rose's reactions are always believable.

By the end of Blood Promise Rose (and to a certain, if limited, extent Lissa) has really grown up – she's confronted what scared her most, resolved her mummy issues and decided to buckle down at school and improve her Dhampir skills before embarking on her next mission. And I have a feeling that this particular mission is going to be a roller-coaster ride. This is the book that got me genuinely excited to find out what happens next for the Vampire Academy students – I get the feeling that things are about to get nasty...

Blood Promise is available in book shops now.  Thank you to Puffin for sending me this title to review.
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