As Shadow Kiss is the third book in the Vampire Academy series, I was expecting a lot from this book. And boy did it deliver!Richelle Mead brings you deeper into the society of Morio and Dhampirs, after the attack during winter break in Frostbite. Rose continues to be our heroine, the story being told in the first person. I honestly don't think these books could have been written any other way.While Vampire Academy and Frostbite start out fairly light & airy, Shadow Kiss tends to dip deeper into the societal moors of this vampire species (and its sub-species, the Moroi, Dhampirs and Strigoi). It's definitely a darker novel, something I tend to enjoy in books such as these. Mead tells the most intense story yet with Shadow Kiss; Rose is continuing on her path to graduation, so she can be the best Guardian possible to Lissa, also her BFF, but with a great deal of introspection.She is forced to explore her mental stamina and determine whether or not she really wants to be a Guardian over being with Dimitri, the man she loves. Dimitri, the biggest, baddest-ass Guardian finally lets down his guard and accepts that sometimes life isn't as simple as he'd like it to be. And I think that's one of the messages here: Life throws curve balls at you. It is up to you to decide how you want to swing. In past novels, Mead only touched briefly on the Vampire monarchy and politics. In Shadow Kiss, she dives deep and lets us examine Queen Tatiana and her own desires and motives for Princess Lissa, who, I think, will be a pawn in future political maneuverings. She gives us more of Adrian and his exploration of Spirit, which brings him to the Academy, even though he's a little older. She allows us to grieve with her characters for Mason, a kind-hearted, brave novice Guardian who was tragically murdered in Frostbite. Most of all, she invests us in her characters and makes us want to read more. And that, my friends, makes a good book.