Vladimir Tod is a born vampire, and the foretold ruler of the Vampires known as the Pravus. But he has no shortage of people looking to take him down. From the Vampire known as D'Ablo to the Slayer, Joss, his life seems to be almost constantly in danger, and now it's screwed up as well. Last year, Vlad finally gave in to his feelings for his lifelong friend, Meredith, and then broke her heart when he broke up with her to keep her safe- without telling her why he broke up with her.
His Uncle, Ottis, is under threat of death for chopping off D'Ablo's hand, and for letting humans like Vlad's friend Henry and his aunt, Nelly, know he is a vampire. Ottis has to undergo a trial by the Supreme Council, which he learns that D'Ablo has recently become a part of, and now he learns that Joss, his onetime friend, is coming back to town after being away for a year, and he's coming back to kill Vlad.
But Vlad has other secrets now, like the Goth girl Snow, who he has been feeding on. Vlad knows he shouldn't be feeding on her, and he shouldn't be lying about it to his uncle, but he can't stop himself from seeing her, or feeding off her, even though he's sickened by what he's doing, he finds himself unable to stop. And Snow knows what he is and accepts him, allowing him to talk with her in a way that he can with few other people.
When he finally returns to school, he finds that Joss seems to be following him- and he's started going out with Meredith, which angers Vlad a great deal. Meanwhile, Ottis has purchased and refurbished Vlad's old house, redoing and repainting all the rooms, except for the one belonging to Vlad's parents, which he feels is still too much tied up in Vlad's memories. Vlad is grateful for this. But one night, Ottis asks Vld to come to his house, but not to talk to him mind to mind.
Part of the reason is that Ottis has a bunch of Vampires over, second is that there is a vampire named Dorian who is one of them. Dorian is very good-looking and handsome. but also extremely scary. He keeps asking Vlad if he can drink Vlad's blood, and Vlad keeps refusing. But when Dorian, who is an obscenely powerful vampire, controls all the vampires in the room, including Vlad, Vlad must control his Uncle's body to defend himself. But even that doesn't put Dorian off on Drinking Vlad's blood.
As Vlad worries over whether he'll still have an Uncle after the trial, and tries to keep an eye on Joss, D'Ablo tries to assume the role of the Pravus by killing Vlad in a mystical ritual, but Vlad destroys his ritual knife, making D'Ablo unable to carry out the ritual, which enrages him.
Meanwhile, Vlad knows that Joss is supposed to kill him, and his vampire relatives are all urging him to kill Joss before Joss can kill him. But Vlad still thinks of Joss as his friend, and when he hears that Joss's "retraining" to hate vampires includes torture at the hands of the other members of the Slayer Society, he feels sorry for Joss. But can he reconnect with his former friend, now his deepest human enemy?
Meanwhile, Dorian tells Vlad that only four people knew the prophecy of the Pravus, and Dorian is the Keeper of the Prophecy, so he knows it all. He offers to tell it to Vlad for some of his blood, and Vlad again refuses. He continues to make the offer, but because he can't guarantee that Vlad won't die if Dorian drinks too much of his blood, Vlad keeps turning him down. But when Dorian lies dying after an attack on the council chambers, Vlad may find out more about the Legend of the Pravus than he wants to know...
I really enjoyed this book. It seems like the end to the series will be just around the corner, since 12th grade is the last year of school, and we're at the end of the 11th grade already. (Yeah, I know there's college, but I think that would be stretching the title metaphor unnecessarily.)
Vlad starts this book with a lot of secrets he's keeping. Not just from his aunt, but from everyone. It seems as though he is going to have to face up to his lies and finally tell the truth if he wants to survive and live, whether he becomes the Pravus or not.
So much happened in this story, that it was hard to tell who was going to be the primary foe of Vlad- would it be Joss, D'Ablo, Dorian, or some new threat. And the answer is... there was a twist at the end that I didn't see coming. I'm not even sure what it means for the series as a whole, but I can't wait to read what is probably the final book. Recommended.