Vampires walk the land, but don’t let fantasy and lust fool you – they are not all the same. In the world of Vampire Academy, the population is divided into the Moroi, the elite class of vampires who drink blood but don’t kill and the Strigoi, savage immortal vampires who feed off them. To protect the Moiri against the feral forces who seek to destroy them, the Dhampir are called upon to defend them. Half-human and half-vampire, they possess innate combat skills and willingly put their lives on the line so the Moroi can preserve their bloodlines.
Lissa Dragomir (Daniela Nieves) is a Moroi princess. Her family is deeply entrenched within the Moroi court. There are whispers that her elder brother will be declared the current vampire queen’s successor once she steps down from the throne. Then there’s Rose (Sisi Stringer), Lissa’s best friend and protector. The girls see each other as family and look forward to the day they can leave their boarding school St. Vladimir’s, and all their responsibilities behind and see the world. But life, it seems, has other plans in store for each of them. Upon leaving a party at the royal court, the Dragomir family is killed, leaving Lissa as the only survivor. Guilt, grief, and confusion are just some of the many things that Lissa experiences. Fortunately, Rose is there to share the burden with her because she’s in a similar state: the Dragomirs were the only real family she’s ever known.
Three months after the incident, Lissa returns to St. Vladimir’s only to find that everything awaiting her is not of her choosing. Politics, schemes, and conspiracies are afoot because the queen has yet to name a successor. To top things off, she can’t help the feelings blossoming inside her after meeting Christian (André Dae Kim), another royal Moroi but one who’s constantly shunned after his parents betrayed their people.
As for Rose, she’s found that she’s been replaced as Lissa’s guardian by the no-nonsense, stoic, yet definitely hot Dhampir Dimitri (Kieron Moore).
The girls are determined to stick together and tough out all that is thrown at them, but the world is again not kind to them. A larger game of political intrigue, magic, blood, and love is afoot, one that will test their bond as nothing has before.
Based on Richelle Mead’s best-selling books of the same name, Vampire Academy is lucky enough to have a second chance at reincarnation, this time through the medium of a TV series instead of a feature film. The show’s two creators, Marguerite MacIntyre and Julie Plec, are no strangers to the supernatural – between the two of them, they have already helmed several supernatural projects, including The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and Legacies.
The show’s pilot reveals a lot of information when it starts and doesn’t let up on the gas pedal until the episode concludes. Tons of plots and action are brought together to create a snare that viewers will happily fall into. Although the show stems from YA fantasy and incorporates many traditions present in that form of literature these days – glitz, dark and attractive men, strong female leads, and yes, vampires (very mid-2000s) – it feels more contemporary and sophisticated this time around.
Simply put, the show is very pretty; pretty cinematography and locations, lovely costumes, and pretty people. Of course, nothing less is suitable for a binge-worthy vampire show. Nevertheless, the visual splendour does not outweigh the storyline nor stop the characters from developing organically. With so many films out these days that are trying so hard to be incredibly insightful, bizarre and tragic, it feels good to sit and watch something exciting and bright and, yes, sewn together with a bit of the vampire-crazy guilty pleasure that we all experienced back them whether we’ll admit it or not.
Whether it’s due to the pandemic or some odd strain of nostalgia that’s been going around, the entertainment industry is reverting back to its roots with reboots of popular genres, plots, and even bands. But, as many will no doubt argue, what’s wrong with that? They were good times for a reason, so what if we’re 20 or 30 or even 50 years old enjoying a show about vampires, werewolves, teenage survival, and love triangles? Shows like Vampire Academy are meant to help you escape elsewhere, and it certainly does. And while changes are made (which happens with every book-to-screen adaptation), the result is still gratifying.
So, this autumn, grab a mug of hot tea or coffee, a pile of blankets, dim the lights and allow yourself to get swept up in the glamour and mystery of Vampire Academy. You’ll feel both cozy and satisfied once the credits appear.
Vampire Academy begins streaming on Peacock on September 15.
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95