This book chronicles the life of 17-year-old Rosemarie Hathaway, commonly known as Rose, a dhampir and her Moroi best friend Vasilisa "Lissa" Dragomir after being brought back to their school "St Vladimir's Academy" after being on the run for two years.
- Guardian in training Rosemarie "Rose" Hathaway and Moroi princess Vasilisa "Lissa" Dragomir are brought back to their school, St. Vladimir's Academy, after running away two years previously. On returning, Guardian Dimitri Belikov, who was the leader of the team of guardians sent to retrieve the two, is assigned to be Lissa's guardian. He offers to mentor Rose in her guardian training as he feels she has potential and with training can make up for the years she has lost. He also believes Rose can be an excellent guardian to Lissa due to the presence of a rare one-sided psychic bond to Lissa which allows her to know the latter's emotions, thoughts, and whereabouts. Rose agrees, knowing this is the only way she will be allowed to remain, and on graduation be Lissa's guardian. Though they soon fall into the academy life, they find that Lissa has lost her social standing among the other Moroi royals owing to her running away. They decide to keep company with Lissa's "cousin" Natalie Dashkov, who is the daughter of sick and dying Victor Dashkov. On the very first day back they find that another Moroi student, Mia Rinaldi, who is dating Lissa's ex-boyfriend Aaron, holds a grudge against Lissa (and by default Rose). Mia finds every opportunity to insult Lissa and is in turn insulted and threatened by Rose.
Lissa finds a friend, Christian Ozera, much to the ire of the ever protective Rose. Christian's parents had turned Strigoi (undead vampires) of their own will for immortality and had been killed by guardians. Rose mistrusts Christian because of his family history. It is also implied that she is jealous of Lissa's interest in him. Rose, in turn, starts falling for Dimitri. Things start getting worse when Lissa finds dead animals in her room along with threatening letters. Lissa starts going into depression and engages in self mutilation. It is revealed that though she has not specialized in any elemental magic (Air, Water, Fire, and Earth), she has a miraculous ability to heal, which was witnessed by Rose and their teacher Ms. Karp two years back. Rose finds out that this gift is shared by Ms. Karp, who is then taken to a mental institution. They find out that Lissa has affinity for Spirit, that might just be dangerous for her and Rose. This incident along with her increasing depression was what had caused Rose to run away with Lissa. While attending Sunday service, Rose hears that the Moroi saint St. Vladimir could heal people, and suffered from some form of depression. Also, he was protected by his loyal companion the "shadow kissed" Anna with whom he shared a bond. On returning from a shopping trip with Lissa, Victor, and Natalie, Rose has an accident and on waking up deduces from what Dimitri tells her (that she had a miraculous recovery) that Lissa had healed her. She reaches into her bond and finds that Lissa is lying on the attic of the Church bleeding from self-inflicted cuts. Her reporting this incident causes a slight break in their friendship.
Somehow discovering this, Mia insults Lissa, calling her unstable, causing Rose to punch Mia and break her nose. Detained by teachers and guardians, Rose is unable to follow Lissa; she reaches through her bond while confined to her room and finds that Lissa is being kidnapped by some guardians who assault Christian when he tries to save her. Rose tries to go and warn Dimitri and instead ends up nearly having sex with him. They stop when Dimitri unclasps a locket gifted by Victor from her neck and he manages to throw it away. It is later revealed that Victor had charmed the locket with a lust charm which causes people to act on already existing attraction, letting go of inhibitions. Through the bond Rose finds out that Victor is the one who kidnapped Lissa and plans to use her to heal his genetic disease. He reveals that Natalie was the one who left the animals in Lissa's room to see her heal them after accidentally catching her doing so. He also reveals that Lissa had specialized in the rare fifth element Spirit, and that her bringing back Rose from the dead after the accident was what caused them to have a bond. Using Spirit is what was causing Lissa's depression. Though Lissa heals Victor for the time being, the school guardians are able to reach the place and rescue her. On returning, Victor convinces Natalie to turn Strigoi by killing while feeding and gets her to break him free. She injures Rose who was visiting Victor, but is killed by Dimitri. Dimitri reveals that he too feels for Rose but cannot have a relationship with her because of their age difference and because he won't be able to guard Lissa wholeheartedly if she is near him.
The Series has a total of five books;