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I Belong

Review: Balthazar by Claudia Gray

Title: Balthazar

Author: Claudia Gray

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: Evernight (Spinoff)

Publication Date: March 6, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 374 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061961183 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13:  978-0061961182 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy


Vampire heartthrob Balthazar More, first introduced to readers in the New York Times bestselling Evernight series, fights for true love in this electrifying stand-alone novel.

Haunted by memories from his first days as a vampire, Balthazar has spent hundreds of years alone—without allies, without love. When he emerges from his isolation to help Skye Tierney, a human girl who once attended Evernight Academy, Balthazar has no idea how dangerous it will be. Skye’s psychic powers have caught the attention of Redgrave, the cruel master vampire responsible for murdering Balthazar and his family four centuries ago. Having learned of Skye’s powers and the remarkable effect her blood has on vampires, he plans to use her for his own evil purposes. As they stand together to fight the evil vampire, Balthazar realizes his lonely world could finally be changed by Skye…just as Redgrave realizes that he can destroy Balthazar once and for all by taking her for his own.

In a story filled with forbidden love and dark suspense, one of the most beloved characters in Claudia Gray’s New York Times bestselling Evernight series will captivate readers with his battle to overcome his past and follow his heart.

Quick & Dirty: While the writing wasn’t anything special, I loved Balthazar and Skye in this spinoff! The characters made up for anything else that was lacking.

Opening Sentence: The dead were watching.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Balthazar picks up after the end of the Evernight series, with Skye attending Maple Glen High School back in her home town.  As you can imagine after a school with stain glass windows and carved oak banisters Skye isn’t exactly thrilled with her linoleum and cinderblock school. But after the death of her brother Dakota, Skye feels she needs to be there for her parents.  Even if they’re never there for her. While Skye’s trying to cope with her grief, her parents have buried themselves in their work and are never–I mean never—home.

As you can imagine this is super convenient when it comes to having boys over, but it’s also convenient for those vampires that are after Skye.  They come after her because of an incident in the woods with one of Balthazar’s old comrades Lorenzo.  He’s not as human-friendly as Balthazar is.  (See the Notable Scene below for an example.)  So when he comes upon Skye in the forest and gets some of her blood, Balthazar tries to take him out. Skye’s powerful blood is connected to her newly psychic powers, which developed in Afterlife post-Bianca. I’m trying to be un-spoilery here!

Because if Lorenzo is in town, Redgrave can’t be far behind him. When Redgrave finds out what Skye’s blood can do for vampires he wants her. While joining Redgrave’s team isn’t on her list of life goals, neither is being hunted by all the vampires of the world.  And if Lorenzo’s news spreads that’s exactly what will happen.  With Redgrave, however, comes Balthazar’s delicate sister Charity.  Charity isn’t ready for a family reunion no matter how much Balthazar is. She’s another unremorseful vampire in Redgrave’s posse.  And like the others, she wants Skye.

Balthazar protects Skye as best he can, at home and at school. He tries to keep Skye at a distance.  He’s had a No humans rule for centuries. But Skye doesn’t plan on making it easy for him.  She’s noticed him in the halls of Evernight Academy for years.  Now that she’s single there’s no reason for her to hold back.  Maintaining a distance and a protection detail at the same time is difficult, and it’s not long before we get some steamy Skye and Balthazar scenes. Literally!  There may or may not be a shower.

Usually I hate flashbacks in a story.  They’re clumsy and written only because the author isn’t creative enough to tell the reader what they need to know in the present timeline. Gray’s flashbacks are used instead to give us more about Balthazar.  She uses them as a way to avoid excess exposition and mundane conversations, and employs them every few chapters as interludes.  Maybe one of the reasons why I don’t hate them in this novel is because I love Balthazar so much. He’s a great hero because he’s flawed and has made some big mistakes.  And because he’s hot. The only thing better than a heroic Balthazar, is a jealous Balthazar–and you get plenty of both in this book.

The writing wasn’t anything special but that doesn’t mean it was a bad read. There were clichés and poor word choice, but it didn’t distract from the story.  In fact, the characters completely made up for it. Both the heroes and the villains! People who were waiting for Balthazar to get his own book won’t be disappointed with this spinoff.

Notable Scene:

Lorenzo ran one finger along her forearm as she poured him more ale.  She jerked back, sloshing suds onto the floor and making the other vampires laugh. “We’ll eat our fill soon enough,” Lorenzo said, to even louder laughter. “You, my dear–I wish to write a poem about you.”

Oh, God. The subjects of all his vile poems were his worst murders. Balthazar wished he hadn’t seen the vulnerability or innocence in the young barmaid’s face. then he would not have pitied her.  He tried to deaden himself to pity–it would make this bitter existence of his slightly less cruel–but he hadn’t succeeded, not yet.

“What is your name?” Lorenzo asked. “I must know your name, you see. I must learn what rhymes.”

The poor barmaid, obviously longing to escape but unable to, replied, “I’m called Martha, sir.”

“Martha?” Lorenzo started cackling. “What in the world rhymes with Martha?” His Spanish accent hardened the th sound to a t.

“Thank you, sir. Good evening.” the barmaid dropped a quick curtsy and hurried out. No doubt she lived in a room on the premises. No doubt Lorenzo would find her.

You could find her.  You could warn her.

Balthazar closed his eyes tightly, trying to silence the voice of compassion in his own heart.

The Evernight series:

1. Evernight

2. Stargazer

3. Hourglass

4. Afterlife

5. Balthazar (Spinoff)

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Balthazar.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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One Response to “Review: Balthazar by Claudia Gray

  1. JuneNo Gravatar

    I’ve only read Evernight. I’ve really got to catch up. I only remember Balthazar dimly, but he was an interesting character. Thanks for the review.

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