“Balthazar” Claudia Gray

An “Evernight” novel. HarperTeen, 2012. Hardcover. 374 pp.

There are 4 books in the “Evernight” series, and it would serve readers well to have read them before diving into “Balthazar.” Even though the novel fleshes out Balthazar’s life more than in the “Evernight” series, and adds new characters along with some well known ones, there are still too many references to scenes from the series. These constant hints and references will confuse readers who don’t have the “back story” of what happened at Evernight Academy.

Balthazar finds himself having to protect Skye from Redgrave and his tribe of vampires. When Evernight Academy was in flames and all its ghosts had been set free, Bianca had been trapped. Her way to freedom came when Skye briefly allowed her to possess her body. Being possessed opened her mind to become psychic and gain the ability to see into the world of those who had died long ago. As a result, Bianca continually relives the dead’s final moments in all its gruesome glory.

Unfortunately for Bianca, her changed blood now has a vampiric effect, which allows any vampire who drinks her blood to “live once more” through memories long buried from their pasts. Redgrave wants her to become his “blood slave,” so he can feel “alive” every time he drinks from her. While posing as Skye’s teacher so as to do everything he can to protect her from Redgrave, Balthazar falls in love with her – despite his personal ban against loving humans.

Once more, Claudia Gray had me on the edge of my seat turning pages to see what would happen next in this love story between vampire and mortal. The book had a wide open ending, making it very clear that this may soon be the beginning of yet another series. Fans of the “Evernight” series will love “Balthazar” while others in the 9-12th grade bracket will also embrace it.

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