Rose is awaken by the screams of her roommate, Lissa, having a nightmare. Rose wakes her up and tells her to feed off of her. Afterwards, Lissa goes to the kitchen to get Rose some feed because she is a little high from the bight. Rose notices that there is someone outside watching the house. She runs downstairs to inform Lissa that they need to leave. Lissa uses compulsion on their housemate, Jeremy, to get his car keys. On the way to the car, 12 guardians surround them. Rose tries to fight one named Dimitri, but it is no use. He informs them that he is taking them back to St. Vladmir’s.
Rose and Lissa are kept separate on the flight back to the school. Upon their arrival, they are lead through the cafeteria during breakfast. Rose is ashamed as the students gawk at them. Rose notices Lissa’s exboyfriend, Aaron, doesn’t seem to be over her, but seems to now be with some angry little blond girl. They are taken to the headmistress’s office where Rose is threatened with expulsion. Lissa’s “uncle,” Victor Dashkov, is there and he and Dimitri convince the headmistress that Rose should stay. Dimitri offers to tutor Rose to catch her up on what she has missed in the past two years.
Rose gets her class schedule and falls in easy with the other dhampirs but quickly finds out just how far behind she is. One of her classmates, Mason, doesn’t know if she’ll be able to pass the trials in the spring. In another class, she is humiliated by a teacher that questions her about her methods of keeping Lissa safe while they were away. At lunch, Aaron’s new girlfriend starts making fun of Lisaa and Rose comes to her defense and stops it.
After Lissa goes to the feeders, she and Rose go to sit with Victor’s daughter, Natalie. They are approached by another royal moroi named Jesse who seems to be particularly interested in Rose. After seeing how much Rose has missed this life, Lissa tells her that she thinks they should stay. Rose, still concerned about Lissa’s condition, agrees to it only if they stay away from the high pressure of the other royals. Dimitri drags Rose off for their practice session. Lissa goes to the chapel’s attic which used to be a sort of refuge for her. Christian Ozera is already there. Most people are afraid of him because his parents decided to turn themselves into strigoi. Lissa seems to get along with him pretty well after a little while.
Rose talks with Dimitri during their practice. She admires his plan to get them back to the academy, especially compared to their first attempt where they sent psi-hounds after them. Dimitri says that he didn’t know anything about a first attempt. Rose figures it must have been before he was assigned at the school. Back in class with Lissa, Rose reminisces with Jesse. He invites her to a social gathering where the attendants will be smoking weed. She declines the offer.
Rose gets the idea that she should be allowed to attend church, thinking that it will give her more of a chance to socialize than being stuck in her room. The headmistress allows this, but Rose quickly starts regretting it. However, during the service she hears the priest talking about St. Vladmir and his shadow kissed guardian, Anna. She asks the priest about it after the service and he gives her a book to read. Outside of the chapel, Mia, Aaron’s new girlfriend, gets jealous of Aaron and Lissa talking about two guardians falling in love and running off together. Rose and Mia throw some insults back and forth before they leave. Rose goes to study the book the priest gave her with Mason and they find that St. Vladmir and Anna had a bond like Rose and Lissa’s.
Rose continues training with Dimitri and she finds that she is trying to earn his approval. She complains about running laps and starts out getting distracted easily. After Dimitri points out that she’s falling behind, Rose picks up the pace. As soon as she finished (before Dimitri) she continues running because she senses that something is wrong with Lissa. She gets all the way to Lissa’s room and finds that there was a dying fox placed on Lissa’s bed. It was dead now and the two girls are wondering if anyone had seen Lissa heal a bird two years ago. They have no idea who could have done this.
In class the teacher is talking about wovles and their alpha system. Mia asks if foxes act similar. Ralph starts saying that he think the fox was a plan for Lissa and Rose to escape again, indicating that maybe they are secret lovers. Christian sets Ralph on fire.
After classes are over, Rose can sense sneakiness coming from Lissa. For the first time Rose is able to get into Lissa’s head on purpose. Rose sees that Lissa is sneaking off to the chapel to meet Christian. Lissa tells him that he shouldn’t have used magic like he did and he starts implying that he is interested in her romantically. Later, Rose goes to make a rendivous with Jesse. He tries to convince her to let him bite her, but she refuses. Dimitri walks in and finds them together. He scares Jesse away and makes Rose promise to take her duties seriously.
Rose and Lissa are passing notes in class and get caught by the teacher, who reads about Rose’s encounter with Jesse to the entire class. After class, Rose notices that rumors are being spread about how Mia’s family is poor, but there are still rumors going around about Lissa and the fox. Rose remembers Lissa bringing the dead bird back to life and Ms. Karp telling them not to tell anyone. Rose meets up with Mason that tells her about the rumors going around about her and Jesse and that he couldn’t find anything in the library about St. Vladmir’s guardian.
A whole bunch of Royals come to the school for a ceremony. The Queen singles out Lissa to insult her in front of everyone. During the reception, Lissa goes outside and Natalie follows to comfort her. Rose listens in and agrees with the nice words Natalie has for Lissa. Mia comes along to insult them, and after Rose and her get started Dimitri comes along to take Rose back to the dorms. On the way back they run into Christian. Rose tells him lies about how Lissa hates him but is too nice to say so.
Rose senses that something is wrong with Lissa. She has the dorm matron call Dimitri, who takes her to see Lissa. Rose is allowed to go in first to calm down her best friend. She finds that Lissa had cut her wrists as she has done on a few occasions since the accident. Dimitri and the matron come in and Lissa explains that there was a dead rabbit in her room this time with a note saying that she wouldn’t survive her stay at the academy. Lissa is taken to the nurse’s office, but Rose is eventually forced to go back to her own room. The next morning, there are rumors flying around again. Rose confronts Christian about telling everyone that Lissa fed off of her while they were away. Christian lets her know that Jesse and Ralf are both saying that she slept with them and let them drink her blood. Rose is ready to take them down, but Jesse reminds her that she can’t do anything to them without getting kicked out of school. Lissa comes to her dorm later that night and tells Rose that she will take care of everything.
Lissa starts using compulsion on the other royals. She is forcing them to like her again and to convince them of the truth about Rose. Christian knows what’s going on and confronts her about it, still hurt from Rose’s words to him. They have an argument and stalk away from each other. Rose confides in Dimitri her worries about becoming a guardian and losing her beauty. She also tells him that the rumors aren’t true, but he already knows.
In church, Rose witnesses Lissa use some strong compulsion on two guys at once. She makes them give Rose an apology for snickering at her. Rose grows worried, but is still able to hear the service when the priest starts talking about St. Vladmir again. She realizes that Christian mentioned that his writings were in the attic. Later, Rose runs into two dhampirs that start sexually harassing her. Mason comes to her rescue this time and she asks him to get a message to Christian for her. She wants Christian to get the books from the church attic.
Rose goes to her room to study the books about St. Vladmir. Mason comes to retrieve her for Lissa. He takes her to a party where Lissa is the center of attention. Rose joins Natalie on the sidelines. Someone starts asking Rose what it was like to be fed on and it upsets Lissa. Rose remembers the events that led up to them leaving the academy in the first place, including Ms. Karp’s warnings. Luckily, this time Rose is able to defuse the situation before Lissa feels the need to take things into her own hands.
While Lissa keeps flaunting her social power, hanging all over Aaron who just broke up with Mia, Rose continues to worry. She goes to the elementary magic teacher and asks about what St. Vladmir specialized in. She didn’t know, but suspects the conversation is really about Lissa. Rose then asks what Ms. Karp specialized in and the teacher tells her that she didn’t specialize in anything. Rose tells Lissa about her suspicion of a connection between St. Vladmir, Ms. Karp, and Lissa and her fear that she will go crazy. Lissa promises to stop using magic to prove to Rose that she will be fine. Rose talks to Christian, trying to convince him that she needs help talking Lissa into a sane state. He says that he won’t because of the way she is acting and the people she is hanging out with. Rose realizes that they connect so well because they both lost their parents. After telling Rose his story about his parents, he agrees that he will talk to Lissa if he sees her alone.
Lissa finds Rose to tell her that Victor is taking Natalie and some friends Shopping. Dimitri has convinced the headmistress to let Rose come along as a learning experience. On the way, they discuss becoming strigoi. Victor says something about Ms. Karp’s guardian lover hunting her down to kill her after she turned. Rose and Dimitri agree that they would rather die than become strigoi. During the shopping trip, Lissa is somewhat disappointed at how responsible Rose has become, refusing to try on clothes. Lissa buys her a dress. On the way home, Dimitri admits that he likes the dress Lissa bought for Rose.
Back at the school, Rose is walking with Lissa, jumping from bench to bench. Her foot gets stuck and she falls, passing out from the pain. When Rose wakes up, Dimitri is with her in the doctor’s office. She is embarrassed about what happened, but he makes her feel better about it. Then he gives her a gift from Victor: a rose necklace that her and Lissa had been looking at but was out of their price range. He then gives her a gift from him: her favorite lip gloss. She hugs him and they both seem to be distracted by each other for a moment. Rose slips into Lissa’s head and sees that she’s crying in the chapel attic. Christian comes up there to talk to her. He starts off telling her to get away from the other royals. She says she can’t because of what Mia did to Rose. Christian tells Lissa about how her brother, Andre, had used Mia. Lissa doesn’t believe him. He kisses her, trying to point out that she doesn’t like Aaron. She yells at him until he leaves and starts cutting herself. Rose breaks out of Lissa’s head and tells Dimitri what is going on.
Lissa is furious with Rose for telling Dimitri what has been going on. Since Lissa hasn’t been talking to Rose, none of her friends are either. Mia approaches Rose about teaming up to get back at Lissa, but Rose refuses to tell her anything. The night of the dance, Rose decides to stay home until Mason comes to get her. She puts on the dress that Lissa bought her and the necklace from Victor and they head out together, meeting Alberta and Dimitri on the way. Mason starts talking with Alberta while Rose and Dimitri keep staring at each other. They go their separate ways and at the dance, Mason has Jesse and Ralph admit that Mia got them to say the things about Rose by sleeping with them both.
Rose starts having fun at the dance until she feels that Lissa is getting distressed. It gets worse when Mia confronts her and Aaron. Rose goes over to break it up and overhears Mia talking about what had actually happened with Lissa the other night. Rose realizes that she got into the school’s records and punches Mia, breaking her nose. Rose is taken away by a bunch of guardians. She yells for Christian to follow Lissa and he complies. Back in her dorm, Rose feels Lissa calming down. Soon after, she feels that Christian is hurt and is sucked into Lissa’s head from her extreme fear. She was being surrounded by guardians and Christian was knocked out. Rose is pushed out of Lissa’s head and forgets what she was just thinking. She gets the idea to go see Dimitri, but when she sees him, she completely forgets about Lissa. Rose and Dimitri start ravaging each other. Dimitri takes off her necklace and the lust dissipates. Dimitri and Rose realize that Victor Dashkov abducted Lissa, but the guardians don’t believe them until Christian confirms the story.
In the car with Dimitri, using her bond to follow Lissa, he tells her about how Victor used a charm to compel them with a lust spell. Rose goes back into Lissa’s head, seeing that they have stopped outside of a small cabin. Victor tells Lissa that he needs her to heal him from his sickness on a regular basis, basically trading her life for his. He explains that she has specialized in spirit and that is how she has the power to heal. It was also how she brought Rose back from the dead after the accident, which formed their bond. He explains how he has plans to lead the moroi back to how they used to be, fighting alongside guardians rather than being victims to strigoi. He has another moroi torture her with air until she heals Victor. Rose leads them to the cabin and Dimitri tells her to stay in the car. She sees that Lissa has used compulsion on a guardian and is sneaking out the window. Christian pops up from the cargo compartment and asks Rose what is going on. Rose updates him and the go to find her together.
Rose and Christina head into the woods, but Christian is unable to keep up. He tells Rose to go on ahead and she does. She hears howling and realizes that Victor sent out psi-hounds, like he did when they were in Chicago. Rose reaches Lissa and keeps the hounds off of her. Christian comes along to join the fight but gets taken down by two dogs. Alberta shows up and shoots the psi-hounds. Lissa is too weak to heal Christain, so Rose lets Lissa drink from her. Alberta is shocked when Lissa makes the wounds close up.
Rose wakes up in the academy’s clinic. Her and Lissa are friends again. Lissa and Christian are dating. Victor is being held at the school until the court comes for him, but no one is sure about what to do with his daughter, Natalie, who conspired with him. Dimitri tells Rose that what happened was a mistake and that he doesn’t think about her that way.
For some reason, the guardians allow Rose to see Victor. She tells him that she wants him to remove the rest of the lust spell, but he admits that the spell is burnt out. He tells her about how spirit will drive Lissa crazy, but that Rose may be able to help with it. Natalie comes down and shoves Rose away. Rose realizes that Natalie became a strigoi to rescue her father. Natalie throws her agains the wall. Dimitri comes to the rescue and stakes Natalie. As Dimitri carries Rose back to the clinic, she asks Dimitri about the spell and he admits that he wants her. He also explains that they can’t be together because they will both be Lissa’s guardians.
Lissa starts on medication to keep her spirit powers in check. Her and Christian get a lot of strange looks for dating, but Lissa’s natural charisma gets their social circle going again. Rose goes to ask the priest about St. Vladmir and finds that he died of old age, relying on Anna through the hard times. The raven that Lissa brought back to life comes to Rose.