Vampire Empire: The Rift Walker by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Princess Adele has returned to life as a dutiful daughter to the Emperor, yet dreads her upcoming, politically-fueled nuptials to Senator Clark. So when Greyfriar arrives to rescue Adele from a planned vampire attack, she gladly flees with him. Yet while Adele is away, vampire Prince Cesare sets multiple plots in to play in Equatoria with the help of human traitors. Meanwhile, Adele is learning more about her ability to harness the Earth’s power to fight against the vampires. But still unable to fully control her ability, she may inadvertently kill the person she loves most.
Following the adventures in The Greyfriar, this sequel picks up not long after. Adele hopes to keep putting off her wedding to the brutish Clark. Especially when she learns his plans for attacking the British vampires, by wiping out their “food” supply of innocent humans. I’m not sure why anyone thought this was a good idea, since vampires can fly and it would just force them further south to their own human nations. But it certainly worked in enraging Adele and causing her to flee her fate. Adele and Gareth/Greyfriar still have fantastic chemistry, though they never seem to have enough time alone together where one of them isn’t hurt or in danger.
As before, the adventure, suspense and romance make for exciting, fast-paced reading. With several twists and surprises, The Rift Walker is a solid sequel that doesn’t disappoint. Action-packed, this is another that was impossible to put down and hated for it to end. And I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment this fall. This is a unique alternative reality / vampire / steampunk trilogy that no fantasy fan should miss.
Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
In an alternate Earth in 1870, vampires rose up and massacred humanity, pushing them to the south and the warmer climates. 150 years later, humanity is ready to fight back. Princess Adele of Equatoria is planning to marry the westerner Senator Clark in an effort to form an alliance in the coming war against the vampires. But before she can even meet her betrothed, Adele’s traveling contingent is attacked by a vampire clan. But before they can abduct her, the legendary Greyfriar comes to her rescue. The Greyfriar is a legendary, masked vampire slayer and hero.
First in the Vampire Empire Trilogy, this extraordinary debut blends vampire fantasy, alternate history, and steampunk. The Griffith’s vampires are animalistic, predatory, and give little care to civilized society and technology. Princess Adele is headstrong and trained well in fighting, yet has a kind heart and feels a strange attraction to mysterious Greyfriar. The two have a sweet chemistry that is reminiscent of a fairy tale. This is easily one of my favorite reads of the year. With plenty of fast-paced adventure, mystery, plot twists, and romance – The Greyfriar is incredibly enjoyable and entirely spellbinding.
Balthazar by Claudia Gray
When Skye is attacked while riding her horse in the woods, Balthazar appears just as suddenly to rescue her from a blood-thirsty vampire. Skye has a new psychic power after she let a ghost possess her back at Evernight Academy. And Redgrave, the ancient vampire who turned Balthazar, is pursuing Skye and seems to know something about her gift and wants to use it for his own gain. As Balthazar vows to protect Skye from the person he hates most, Balthazar and Skye begin to develop feelings for each other that go beyond just their immediate attraction.
This offshoot story follows events in the last Evernight novel, Afterlife, and Evernight Academy is no more. The charming and ever-gallant Balthazar has been a fascinating character in Gray’s former novels, so I was excited that he got his own story. Balthazar’s backstory is told in a jumble of flashbacks, bouncing around in time till we finally see the whole of his tragic past. With diverse and intriguing characters and an intense plot, this book was completely riveting. This vampire novel involves situations for a mature young adult readership, following a similar vein as the previous novels in the series. Dark and suspenseful, with plenty of violence, mystery, and romance – this standalone novel is a must for Claudia Gray fans.
Balthazar will release from HarperTeen on March 6, 2012.
Vampirates: Immortal War by Justin Somper
Having discovered their dhampir natures, Connor and Grace Tempest’s unique abilities continue to grow. Connor receives a surprising gift and continues as a pirate in the war. Grace resumes work as a healer, and finds herself torn when familiar faces show up at the Sanctuary. Meanwhile, a war is in full force as Sidorio’s Vampirates have successfully amassed a fleet and continually “recruit” new forces against the Alliance of Pirate Federation and Nocturnals.
The Vampirates saga concludes with this sixth installment. This epic series has amassed a vast amount of characters, stories and relationships. Characters have developed in unexpected ways. And a looming prophecy finally comes to fruition.
I finished this novel with mixed emotions. I’ve grown to love the individual Pirate and Nocturne characters. And though the changes have been difficult, the future still looks bright. Somper has taken his readers on a wild, swashbuckling ride through pirate (and Vampirate) infested waters. This unique series is a fantastic fantasy adventure for all ages, though the darkness and violence does increase throughout the series. Full of high seas adventure, magic, romance, and action – Immortal War is a strong and satisfying ending to an amazing series.