Afterlife picks up almost immediately where Hourglass ended--Lucas is in the final stages of becoming a vampire after his attack by the crazed vampire Charity; Bianca, now a wraith, cannot bear to part with him though she knows becoming a vampire would be something Lucas would never want. In the days that follow, things do not get easier for the lovers; Bianca's new powers don't include her being alive (though apparently the powers she now possesses more than make up for that minor issue) and Lucas struggles mightily with his newborn blood lust. Acting upon Balthazar's advice, Lucas seeks sanctuary at Evernight Academy in order to acclimate himself to his new "life", but being back within the walls of the school proves difficult for Bianca as she is unsure if her parents will now accept her new status as a wraith. Though surrounded by friends Balthazar, Vic, Patrice, and Ranulf (love that guy!), there is still something creepy about the ever present Mrs. Bethany, and there's definitely something going on with the other wraiths. How on earth could it all work out?
Afterlife is a page turner, if at times a bit puzzling. Bianca revels in her new abilities as a wraith, but Lucas's transition is met with struggles and depression at the loss of his former life. There were times it seemed as though Bianca had way too many powers, most of them self-taught and highly convenient; her anger at Balthazar is hammered home over and over, even when she knows she could not have done otherwise herself. I felt the trepidation with which Bianca approaches the reunion with her parents was very well done, and the heartsick way Lucas must deal with his Black Cross mother now that he is a vampire was heartbreaking. The friendship among the group--Bianca, Lucas, Balthazar, Ranulf, Vic, Patrice, and Maxie--was strong and supportive, and I loved the spots of humor supplied by Ranulf especially. In fact, all characters within this story were well written and credible, with perhaps the exception of Christopher (never really got into his characterization, though I understand his overall importance).
Afterlife ties up most of the loose ends, though there are still several questions I would like to have answered: What about Vic? What about Balthazar (though I hear he's getting his own novel...yeah!) What about Ranulf? Will Lucas and Bianca be able to remain together? There are possibilities for more novels and I'm hopeful we'll be able to see these characters again. If there are holes in this final tale, there is also excitement and emotion, even if I had hoped for a different outcome. Well written and interesting...I'll be on the lookout for more by Ms. Gray!