Blood Promise by Richelle Mead is the fourth book in the Vampire Academy series. That means that this entire review will spoil the first three books, which, trust me, you don’t want to do.
I give this a 4/5 stars. Action was great, story development was great, but I had a few small issues with pacing and some other personal peeves.
First off, if you are in any way a fan of the wave of vampire/paranormal teen romance books that overtook the YA world a couple years back and you haven’t read this series you are missing out. It’s a well developed world with strong characters. I love Rose, the main character, so much because she has such a strong voice. She makes stupid decisions sometimes, but wanting to slap her in the face is just a side effect of her strong personality and her development throughout the series has progressed remarkably well.
As anyone who’s read the first three books will know, Mead didn’t pull her punches on Rose either. She’s in a dark place at the start of this book: her love Dimitri, has been turned from a half-human Moroi (good vampire) guardian with a heart of gold into an evil, soulless Strigoi (bad vampire). Rose had a huge fight with her best friend and dropped out of school to seek out Dimitri and drive a stake through his heart.
This book focuses mainly on Rose making some very difficult decisions which she doesn’t always do with her usual alacrity. She first seeks out Dimitri’s family in Russia and finds that they don’t know the tragic news, which was a totally heart-breaking sequence. She gets kind of stuck there, lost and grieving, which was compelling, but dragged on for nearly half the 500 pages, which may have been a tad excessive. Then she sets off on her journey again and faces a whole new kind of conflict from what we’ve seen from the series before. And there the fun begins, so I’ll stop the summarizing there.
As I said already, I love the direction this series went with Dimitri’s transformation. It really pushes Rose to her breaking point and forces her to make impossible decisions. Her struggles in this installment also deeply affected her relationship with Lissa. One thing I think makes this series unique to the genre is the complexity to the politics guardian/client relationships and Lissa and Rose really face the imbalance in their friendship with this separation. It’s refreshing to read a paranormal romance that has real, complicated friendships included. Rose’s relationship with her mother also grows and develops well, considering Janine isn’t getting much screen time.
The story is surprisingly complex but someone, somewhere decided that each series installment needed a complete reiteration of the whole set up in every. single. book. By book 4 I would expect readers to remember that Moroi=good/magical and Strigoi=bad and that Rose+Lissa=Best Buds 4eva, especially since the books were published less than a year apart. I really, really don’t need my intelligence insulted with a 10 page recap at the start of each book. One other small pet peeve I had was with an obvious plot twist. I thought Rose would figure the Abe connection out, but I suppose she did have plenty of other things on her plate.
Overall the book was great, I didn’t like it quite as much as the previous one, but it was a solid addition to the series and I think there’s a lot of story left to tell in books 5 and 6. I’m really looking forward to Rose and Adrian having an angst filled relationship. I normally hate love triangles, but this one seems like it will be a lot fun (in a sadistic way) to read.