Friend Mason, who was killed by the evil Strigoi, Rose Hathaway is reacting in atypical ways. It feels as if a darkness has begun to grow within her mind. When Rose thinks she sees Mason's ghost, she fears for her sanity. All her life Rose has prepared to become a Guardian to her best friend, Lissa, the last Dragomir vampire princess, even if that means sacrificing her life and happiness. That commitment is now being put to the test as Rose'
Rose, still in shock over Mason's death, prepares with the other novices for the Field Experience, in which the novices defend the Moroi they are partnered with for six weeks from attacks by "Strigoi", their instructors playing the part as Strigoi. Rose is positive that she will be paired with Lissa, but is unpleasantly surprised when she is paired with Lissa's boyfriend, Christian Ozera, while Eddie Castile, Mason's best friend, is paired up with Lissa. Rose openly voices her negative views on this to her teachers, but ultimately resigns herself to protecting Christian. During the first attack on Christian, Rose sees Mason's ghost and freezes, failing to save the Moroi she was protecting from the 'Strigoi'. As a result, she is regarded as a sore loser by her teachers, who believe that she froze on purpose because she was unhappy with the Moroi she was paired with for the Field Experience. To her intense surprise, Christian is the only person who truly believes that Rose didn't freeze up on purpose.
Meanwhile, Rose learns from Dimitri that Victor Dashkov's trial is coming soon - and that she and Lissa aren't going to be called to testify. She begs Dimitri to find a way to get them into the trial, and he promises to see what he can do. Adrian and Lissa are growing closer (in a teacher-student sense) while practicing their Spirit use, making Christian jealous. After Rose settles a fight between Lissa and Christian, she begins to sense changes in herself - mainly feelings of intense and irrational anger (even more than is usual). Christian is also approached by Jesse Zeklos to join a secret "club" he and Ralf have started, though Christian turns them down. Rose becomes suspicious, and tries to learn more about this club, which she later learns is called "Mână".
Although Dimitri attempts to get Rose and Lissa into court to testify, it is ultimately Adrian who gains them entry. On the plane ride to Court, Rose is struck with a horrible migraine, but shakes it off as they arrive at Court; Dimitri and Alberta accompany Rose, Lissa, Christian, Eddie, and Adrian. Dimitri and Rose go to visit Victor in jail, who is as maddeningly pleasant as ever, and threatens to reveal what really happened between Dimitri and Rose the night he kidnapped Lissa. Dimitri threatens to have him killed in jail, but Victor taunts them with his knowledge. The day of the trial, Victor does reveal that Rose and Dimitri almost slept together, but everyone in the courtroom automatically believe this to be another one of Victor's lies. He is sent to prison by the court. Lissa meets with Queen Tatiana to discuss her future; she agrees to go to a college close to Court, and voices her opinion on Moroi fighting with Dhamphirs. Rose goes in to meet with Tatiana next - who insists that Rose stop sleeping with Adrian and call off their "engagement". Rose is stunned, and listens to Tatiana call her everything but a whore. Tatiana then reveals that she has been planning a marriage between Adrian and Lissa, and that they don't need to be carrying any of her "emotional baggage" around with them.
Rose shrugs off the queen's accusations and meets up with Lissa, lying to her about her conversation with the queen. Lissa takes Rose for a manicure, where Rose is treated by a young man, Ambrose, who turns out to be a dhamphir and the queen's blood whore. He takes Lissa and Rose to a fortune teller, who gives Rose a rather boring reading, which states that she will "kill that which is undead". Dimitri finds them and agrees to have his fortune read as well. The fortune teller predicts that Dimitri will "lose that which he treasures most".
On the plane ride back to the Academy, Rose gets another horrible migraine, this time drawing the attention of Alberta and Dimitri. When they are forced to make an unscheduled stop at a human airport to refuel during a snow storm, Rose's migraine becomes much worse, and when she steps off the plane, she sees the ghosts of Lissa's parents and brother, along with many others. When she comes to, she is in the infirmary back at the Academy. Rose is finally forced to come clean about seeing Mason's ghost, and she is ordered to see a counselor. Her "guardian time" with Christian is also limited. While back at school, her temper still increases, though she does successfully defeat Dimitri as a "Strigoi" while guarding Christian. Lissa is approached by Jesse and Ralf to join Mână, and she accepts their invitation as a chance to spy on them, without Rose's knowing. Lissa is led into the woods and attacked by Jesse and the other magic users. Rose senses something is terribly wrong and runs to Lissa's aid. She beats Lissa's torturers – fellow students — and Lissa tortures Jesse using Spirit. Rose realizes that whenever Lissa uses Spirit, dark emotions fill Lissa — which caused her to cut herself in the first book — and tells Lissa to let the dark emotion flow through their connection and into Rose - which is what has been causing Rose's mood swings and violent behavior. Lissa obeys, and Rose suddenly desperately wants Jesse to pay for what he had done to Lissa and attacks him. Alberta and Dimitri appear, and Alberta has several guards take Jesse away, while ordering Dimitri to handle Rose, who is still in a manic state.
Dimitri takes Rose to an old cabin that Tasha Ozera stayed in when she visited the Academy. Rose attempts to run to the infirmary, where she knows they would take Jesse, but Dimitri subdues her and forces her to let go of her anger. She collapses, terrified that she is going crazy. Dimitri listens to Rose's explanation and insists that he won't let Rose go crazy. They end up kissing and Rose loses her virginity to him and start to head back to the school when they are attacked by a Strigoi. Dimitri sends Rose back to the school to warn the guardians, while he stays behind to hold off the Strigoi. The guardians react quickly and send Rose back to her dormitory, where she and the other novices are told to stay put. Rose is sent to guard a small window, where she is finally given a silver stake. She senses immense fear from Lissa, and learns that Christian is in the church, where he was supposed to meet Lissa to talk about Jesse and Mana. Eddie and several other novices are guarding Lissa and the other Moroi, so Rose sneaks out the small window to go after Christian. She and Christian rush to the elementary school, where there would be much less security, and combine Rose's fighting skills and Strigoi sense with Christian's fire magic to destroy many Strigoi. After the battle, Rose learns that this is one of the biggest groups of Strigoi - who are typically loners - to ever attack any Moroi or Dhamphirs. Along with many dead guardians and Moroi, several Dhamphirs and Moroi were captured by the retreating Strigoi — including Eddie. Rose's mother, Janine, comes to the aid of the guardians with reinforcements, and with Mason's help, Rose figures out where the Strigoi are holding the hostages. Before they leave, Dimitri tells Rose that he is going to ask to be placed with a different Moroi close to Court, so that he and Rose can be together.
Janine, Dimitri, and Rose plan a counterattack, and reluctantly enlist the help of other Dhamphir novices and, surprisingly, several Moroi teachers to harness their power as a weapon. When the army reaches the caves the Strigoi are hiding in, Rose is forced to stay outside while Janine and Dimitri lead the attack inside. Once all the hostages are out, Rose goes into the caves to assist the retreat. Just as she thinks everyone she loves is safe, Dimitri is attacked and left behind as Janine forces Rose out of the caves.
Rose later finds out that Dimitri's body wasn't found. Another team of guardians returns to the caves the next day, confirming that Dimitri was not killed, but was made Strigoi. Rose realizes that the fortune teller's prediction came true: "you will lose what you value most so treasure it while you can" - not herself, as Rose and Dimitri believed, but his soul. Rose decides to leave the Academy to go after Dimitri and kill him. After she files the necessary papers, Lissa meets her just before she leaves and reveals that she figured out Rose was in love with Dimitri. Lissa begs Rose to stay, even tries to use compulsion on her, but Rose snaps and tells Lissa that all her life she's been told that Lissa comes first. Rose says that she needs to do something for herself for once. Rose asks Adrian for money, which he willingly gives to her, and asks her if she will come back. Rose says she will eventually, and tells Adrian that she will give him a chance - go out with him - when she comes back. As she leaves the Academy, Rose says goodbye to Mason, then heads off to Siberia, where she believes Dimitri would go first-- back to his hometown.
|“||I set off, off to kill the man I loved.||”|
|<p style="font-size:smaller;line-height:1em;text-align: right">—-Rosemarie Hathaway|
Aimee (mentioned) • Alice • Stan Alto • Ambrose • Father Andrew • Anna (mentioned) • Mason Ashford • Ryan Aylesworth • Abby Badica • Dean Barnes • Dimitri Belikov • Mrs. Callahan (mentioned) • Ms. Carmack • Eddie Castile • Celeste • Guardian Chase • Camille Conta • Natalie Dashkov (mentioned) • Victor Dashkov • Ms. Davis (mentioned) • Deirdre • Vasilisa Dragomir • Dustin • Elena (mentioned) • Mr. Ellsworth • Emil • Eve • Janine Hathaway • Rosemarie Hathaway • Isaiah (mentioned) • Adrian Ivashkov • Nathan Ivashkov (mentioned) • Jean • Jillian • Sonya Karp (mentioned) Headmistress Kirova • Brandon Lazar • Meredith • Molly • Dr. Olendzki • Brett Ozera (mentioned) • Christian Ozera • Natasha Ozera (mentioned) • Alberta Petrov • Shane Reyes • Rhonda • Mia Rinaldi • Ralf Sarcozy • Stephen • Suzanne • St. Vladimir (mentioned) • Priscilla Voda • Yuri • Dane Zeklos (mentioned) • Jesse Zeklos
The book has been translated into Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.
- Brazil: Tocada pelas sombras (Engl. Touched by Shadows) – publ.: 2010
- Bulgaria: Целуната от сянката – publ.: May 17, 2010
- Croatia: Poljubac sjene – publ.: 2011
- Czech Republic: Stínem políbená – publ.: 2010
- Denmark: Skyggekysset (Engl. Shadow-kissed) – publ.: 2011
- Estonia: Varju suudlus – publ.: April 17, 2012
- France: Baiser de l'Ombre (Engl. Shadow Kiss) – publ. January 14, 2011
- Germany: Schattenträume (Engl. Shadow Dreams) – publ. September 15, 2009
- Greece: Φιλί της Σκιάς (Engl. Shadow Kiss) – publ.: March 2010
- Hungary: A Halál Csókja – publ.: 2010
- Indonesia: Shadow Kiss – publ.: January 27, 2011
- Italy: Il bacio dell'ombra (Engl. The Kiss of Shadow) – publ.: March 2, 2011
- Lithuania: Šešėlio pabučiuota – publ.: November 2011
- Netherlands: Schaduwkus (Engl. Shadow Kiss) – publ.: October 2010
- Poland: Pocałunek Cienia – publ.: 2010
- Portugal: O Beijo das Sombras (Engl. The Kiss of Shadows) – publ.: 2010
- Romania: Atingerea umbrei – publ.: 2010
- Russia: Поцелуй тьмы – publ.: 2010
- Serbia: Poljubac senke – publ.: 2011
- Slovenia: Poljub smrti – publ.: May 18, 2010
- Spain: Bendecida por la Sombra – publ.: February 2, 2011
- Sweden: Skuggkysst (Engl. Shadow-kissed) – publ.: March 26, 2010
- Turkey: Gölge Öpücük (Engl. Shadow Kiss) – publ.: May 2010
- Latvia:Ēnu Pieskāriens- publ.:January,2013
- The original American cover shows Lissa and Dimitri, while the updated American cover and the new UK cover show Rose.
- The cursive Vampire Academy font used on the new covers is Voluta ScriptTM Regular, which is a commercial font.
- According to fan sites, it is the favorite book from the most part of the fanbase.