Published 2010 339 pages
Summary (from the publisher)
Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas. After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at their hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend – the vampire Balthazar – hiding is no longer an option.
Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny.
Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything… but can it survive what's to come?
Hourglass is the third book in Claudia Gray’s popular Evernight series. Aimed at young adult aged readers the series follows a forbidden first-love theme and is set against an increasingly dangerous supernatural background of vampires and vampire hunters. Well-written stories about the trials of first love have an appeal beyond the teenaged reader – making these books a guilty pleasure for many readers older than the target age-group, and I include myself in their number. With a plotline and romance that spans multiple books it is best to read these books in series order – starting with Evernight.
Hourglass raises the stakes (no pun intended) for star-crossed young lovers Lucas and Bianca. After being separated by circumstance for most of the previous book (Stargazer) and following a Black Cross attack on the Evernight Academy that left the school a smoking ruin – Bianca grabbed her chance to be with Lucas, evading her parents and absconding with him during the confusion of the fire. The first part of Hourglass sees Lucas and Bianca stuck in a less than ideal hideout – a Black Cross vampire hunter cell – where Bianca must hide her vampire nature everyday or risk exposure of her true identity followed by an unpleasant death at the hands of the over-zealous vampire hunters. Black Cross makes an effective impediment to romance, even though Bianca and Lucas are together all the time they can’t actually be together because they are never alone and can never be their true selves.
Personally I found the Black Cross the most annoying part of the novel. I think it was because they came across as a somewhat over-the-top group of people who clearly suffered hardships (everything from having no proper places to sleep or shower, to having little food, to the increased likelihood of dying a violent death) for the pleasure of hunting and killing vampires. Which they did in a fairly random and indiscriminate manner – along the lines of see-a-vampire, kill-a-vampire. Their lack of compassion or understanding, their unwillingness to accept that a vampire could be anything other than an evil killing machine made them come across as a bunch of one-dimensional psychos.
Still one of things I like about Hourglass, and the Evernight series as a whole, is the way the author strips away preconceived notions from her protagonists. As much a Bianca loves her parents she has had to accept that they have lied to her about some of the most important aspects of her life. She has had to find out the hard way that some vampires are evil and do kill humans. Lucas has learnt that not all vampires are the evil creatures he has been taught to hate and kill from childhood. His final days with Black Cross show him that the organisation he’s been a part of his entire life is flawed and wrong. The author shows that there are no black and white answers to life’s problems, just shades of grey.
It isn’t long before Bianca and Lucas get away from Black Cross and strike out on their own but even when things seem to be going well for the couple there is an air of doomed romance hanging over them. This adds nicely to the dramatic tension of the plotline but throughout the story faint echoes of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet whisper of tragedies to come.
Series fans will be pleased that favourite secondary characters Balthazar, Vic and Ranulf all have a part to play in Hourglass. Vic and Ranulf in particular add a touch of humour to Hourglass that lifts the occasionally gloomy plotline back up to lighter ground.
With its tragic romance, life-and-death drama and moral ambiguities Hourglass shows itself to be a superior example of the current YA vampire romance craze. This alone should be enough to get fans lining up for the upcoming fourth and final book in the series – while Hourglass’s cliff hanger ending guarantees it.
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