I don't know what it was, but this book seemed a little different than the first three, which was fine by me. With the high school drama dialed down, the story seemed to come together better. At the end of the third book, I was a little disappointed in the character's behaviors. However, they seem to redeem themselves in this one.
I can honestly say that I was never really rolling my eyes at the characters in this one. You know when you're watching a horror movie and you just want to scream at the stupid blond girl that's running from the killer and goes up the stairs AND THEN out the window? I have to admit that I did have a few of these moments.
I like that Rose knows that she doesn't have a clue as to what she's doing and still strives to do right by Dimitri. I thought the entire portion in Siberia was a nice touch. Dimitri was developed really well with the introduction of his family and a few flashbacks from Rose. Also, seeing Rose grow as a person is a nice change of pace from other YA series.
I think the fight at the end was pretty well thought out. However, I'm not sure that I liked the fact that I already know that Rose wasn't successful. I think I would have been much happier waiting for the next book if I thought she had been. Then all of a sudden in book five: BAM! You were wrong! That's just my opinion on the matter though.
Rose starts out in St. Petersburg living off of the money that Adrian supplied her. She hangs out in a club that many moroi and dhampirs go to, trying to find out where the dhampir town in Siberia is located. No one there is willing to give her any answers. She ends up leaving one night and is confronted by an alchemist, Sydney, who rants at her for leaving strigoi bodies all over the place. A strigoi attacks them and Rose kills it. Over dinner, Sydney explains that alchemists clean up after dhampir to keep the secret from the human world. After a phone call, Sydney is instructed to take Rose to Baia, the village where there is a large population of dhampirs.
The girls start out on a train heading for a larger city in Siberia. From there, Rose buys a car and they start traveling down a road that is known to have strigoi attacks at night. They stop at a house to sleep for the night. Rose is woken up by something and heads outside. She is attacked by two strigoi. They are about to overpower her when she starts seeing ghosts again. They attack the strigoi (not hurting, but kind of scaring them off) and Rose is able to kill them. She faints and wakes up at the Belikov house.
After getting to know the Belikov's a little better, Rose tells them what happened to Dimitri. They act as though he died and go through an entire memorial service. Rose retells the detailed story of Dimitri's last days, the battle, and the rescue mission. She is approached by Abe, who is kind of like a gangster. He is the one that came to get her and Sydney after the strigoi attack and informs him that he is speaking to her on someone else's behalf.
The grandmother takes Rose to meet another shadow kissed couple: Mark (dhampir) and Oksana (moroi). Mark tells her how he takes the darkness from Oksana and she heals it out of him. He gives Rose a ring that is charmed with spirit to help with her own darkness.
Rose has been bonding with the family and everyone wants her to stay with them, inviting her to finish school with Viktoria. Rose is undecided about what to do and Abe approaches her and threatens her to leave Russia. Still undecided, Rose goes with Viktoria to a club to meet her boyfriend, who is moroi. Rose quickly finds out that the club is for blood whores after the moroi boy starts hitting on her while Viktoria is distracted. She tries to convince her friend to leave, but is unsuccessful. Abe approaches her and offers her a deal: he will get Viktoria out of this situation if Rose promises to leave Baia. Rose is hesitant at first, but agrees after Abe informs her that the same boy that Viktoria is in love with is the one that got her sister pregnant. Viktoria is outraged by this and refuses to speak to Rose.
Making good on her promise to Abe, Rose leaves Baia with some other unpromised guardians. They reach a city called Novosibirsk and she quickly becomes their leader. They hunt down strigoi and try to get them to tell her where Dimitri is. She lets one go in hopes that he will inform Dimitri that she is looking for him. A few nights later, she is confronted by Dimitri himself, but she hesitates and is unable to kill him.
Trapped in a fancy sort of room, she realizes that she is being held captive by Dimitri and some other strigoi. At first, she tries everything to break out. Eventually, she starts pretending that Dimitri is normal. He influences her to give up trying with foreplay and intoxicating bites. Rose has all but given up when she is attacked in the room by another strigoi named Nathan. Luckily, Dimitri returns in time to rescue Rose, but informs her that she will have to soon choose between death and life as a strigoi. Rose convinces him not to bite her and she starts sobering up.
Meanwhile, Lissa has been acting rather strange. She has been partying with Avery and Adrian and getting into a lot of trouble. While at the royal court, she gets drunk, dances on a table, falls off of said table, and kisses her old boyfriend, Aaron. Lissa didn’t think it was a big deal, but Jill, the younger girl that they had brought along to work with Mia, ends up telling Christian. Lissa still thinks that the entire thing wasn’t a big deal, but Christian is fed up with her pettiness and lying.
She breaks a chair and uses the leg to get the door codes from the human servant. She then hides the stake and uses it to disable Dimitri when he doesn’t expect it. She gets out into the hall and finds another strigoi, who she traps between the two doors to her room. She finds another human servant and has him take her to the vault where her stake is kept. He then leads her to a room with a window so that she can escape. However Galena, Dimitri’s old teacher, is there to stop her. Dimitri shows up to rescue her and she helps him kill her. They are attacked by Nathan and the other strigoi, but Rose leaves them for Dimitri and goes out the window. She eventually finds her way through a maze of hedges, across a field, and down a river bank with Dimitri not far behind. She threatens to throw herself off a bridge, asking Dimitri why he wants her to become strigoi. He says it is because he wants her. She tells him that she loves him and then starts falling. He grabs her, realizing his mistake, but this gives Rose a chance to stake him. Rose makes it back to town where Oksana, Mark, and Abe are there to help.
Rose realizes that there is something really wrong with Lissa, especially since she keeps getting kicked out of her best friend’s head. Oksana looks into Rose’s mind while Rose is in Lissa’s mind and they are able to overpower Avery’s effects on Lissa. However, it turns out that Avery has two shadow kissed minions, her brother Reed and her guardian Simon. Adrian also comes along to help. The amount of spirit being forced into Avery makes her and her two shadow kissed minions go crazy.
Rose asks Oksana about her charmed ring temporarily returning Dimitri to a more human state. Oksana tells Rose about a spirit user who claimed to bring a strigoi back to life. As it turns out, the spirit user is Victor Dashkov’s half-brother.
Back in the states, Adrian picks up Rose and takes her back to the academy. She and Lissa talk for hours, apologizing for both of their bad attitudes. Lissa makes Rose promise that the next time she goes off on some adventure, she will take Lissa with her. Alberta calls Rose to her office and asks her to rejoin the academy. While going to meet Lissa and Adrian for dinner, Rose runs into her mother. She finds out that her mother was actually worried about her and that Abe is her birth father.
At dinner with Adrian, Lissa, and her mother, Rose promises to finish school. Afterwards, Adrian asks her out on a date. Rose tells him to make her a list about why he is a good suitor for her and he takes it seriously. This also reminds him that he has a message for her. It is from Abe. He wanted to let her know that Victor Dashkov wasn’t willing to share what he knows as long as he is stuck in prison. Later that evening, Rose receives a package from Dimitri containing the stake she used on him and letting her know that he would be coming for her soon.