Vampires go to school? Who knew?
The story begins with the characters, Lissa - a Moroi (living vampire) princess - and Rose - Lissa's Dhampir (half-human, half-vampire) protector already on the run. Shortly thereafter they are captured and returned to St. Vladimir's, a school where the young Moroi and Dhampir are trained.
In a twist from traditional mythology there are 2 types of vampires, the Moroi who live lives like humans (except for the requirement to take in blood as well as food and sensitivity to light) and the more traditional Strigoi (the dead). Richelle Mead builds up a very engaging world for her characters to inhabit, having to spend a moderate amount of time actually expanding this world during the story.
Most of the action (in true YA style) is built around the interactions between the main characters and the other students at the Academy. Both of reintegration and the invariable clique building (imagine if your High School had both commoners and various nobles attending it. It makes the jocks vs nerds stuff look tame, in particular since everyone there either knows magic or is insanely strong/fast). There is an overarching storyline that keeps the plot moving.
Much darker than most books of this genre, with more action and topics that you don't normally see (talk of suicide, drinking, sex).
Looking forward to the next book in this series.