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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: The Vampire Diaries The Return: Nightfall by L.J. Smith

Elena Gilbert is alive—again.

When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her—the handsome, brooding Stefan and the sleek and dangerous Damon—she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back.

Now Elena is not just human. She has powers and gifts that were bestowed on her in the afterlife. What's more, her blood pulses with an overwhelming and unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire.

Stefan wants to find a way to keep Elena safe so that they can make a life together. Damon, however, is driven by an insatiable desire for power, and wants Elena to rule as his princess. When Stefan is lured away from Fell's Church, Damon seizes his chance to convince her that he is the brother she is meant to be with. . . .

But a darkness is infiltrating the town, and Damon, always the hunter, is now the hunted; he becomes the prey of a malevolent creature that can possess him at will, and who desires not just Elena's blood but her death.

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My Review:

I have to admit that a fifteen year hiatus between Dark Reunion and this book, The Return: Nightfall, did nothing but help L.J. Smith’s creativity. Being a fan of the original four books, I was dying to get my hands on The Return story arc so I could sink my teeth into more of the love triangle that makes us all read. After reading an excerpt I was seriously worried. I have never been a fan of fantasy books. Japanese characters never appealed to me. I hated Pokemon. What do these things have to do with a vampire book? Kitsune. I did not have high hopes for The Return series.

Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised. In the five hundred and ninety two page whopper of a book, there was a lot going on, but it also held the feeling that there was more to come. As my favorite quote says, “Whatever I do is not a waste of time, it's all building toward something.” This book is building towards something. You have to remember when reading it that it is the first in a three book series. There is a lot of character introduction and general chaos to filter through before you reach the real critical plot.

The preface begins with Stefan and Elena. It is approximately one week after Elena Gilbert’s mysterious reappearance in the land of the living. Yes, the girl has been a human, a vampire, a spirit, and now she is a human with “extras”. Don’t bother asking how it happened. If you don’t want to ruin the story, just accept it for what it is and read on. Anyways, Elena, since her fall from heaven, has reverted back to an innocent child-like state. She can’t walk, but can float. She can’t speak, but has telepathy of sorts. It is an awesomely huge change from the Elena in the first story arc. Stefan is the only person she knows at this point and he is trying to teach her simple things: like speaking, walking, wearing clothes. Apparently, he is also pushing his disgusting pet name “Lovely Love” on Elena and it makes me want to hurl every time I hear it. If a guy called me “little lovely love”, I’d deck his ass.

The first actual chapter has a wonderful scene setting up. Damon is sitting in a tree outside Caroline Forbes’ bedroom. Peeping Tom? Yes. He noticed a few days ago that she was doing something curious and has come every night since to watch her wake up, turn a camera on, and talk to herself in the mirror at 4:44am. I won’t lie; I would climb a tree to watch that too as you’ll see in the book there is something very strange going on with Caroline.

While Damon watches her and appreciates her feminine beauty, we find out that this sexy male creature hasn’t had sex in over 500 years. Without warning, Damon gets a mosquito bite on his neck. Or is it? He begins acting oddly almost immediately, gaining entry into Caroline’s room while listening to a voice in his head telling him to feed. Disliking the lack of control, he pushes the impulse to drain her out of his mind and leaves the room to search for a nice crimson breakfast.

Next, after getting his fill from girls in town, picking up a new pair of Ray Bans and a video camera, Damon decides to drive to Mrs. Flowers’ boardinghouse because he wants Stefan and Elena to give him his leather jacket back. A little battle ensues and he forcibly takes blood from his brother, making him look like a bully in front of Elena (who throws the jacket at him). It isn’t necessarily odd behavior for him to pick a fight with Stefan, but to do it, and kick Stefan’s ass in front of Elena is not his modus operandi.

Quickly, and without warning, things begin happening. The group comes to visit Elena, bringing Caroline along because she promised to be nice. They find out about her mental status and nobody has real high hopes, but no one says a word, except Caroline. She thinks there is something obscene in the purely clinical way Elena kisses her friends in order to learn more about them. She begins spouting her hatred and ignorance around the room causing her to erupt into some bug spouting beast from hell. Elena saves the day with her magical wings and they kick poor Caroline out. Sound odd? Yeah, I couldn’t make this stuff up.

After that hellacious night, Elena wakes up the next morning and she is all better! She can walk, talk and once again has a witty and somewhat appropriate plan for everyone. Thanks to Matt (who Damon has now named Mutt) we find out girls in the town, as young as eleven years old, are acting like miniature wonton women. Bonnie and Elena confer about creatures from the woods, malach, that seem to have inhabited Damon and Caroline so far. They know they are there because not only does Elena still have wings, but a form of telepathy, and she can see auras. Talk about talent. They decide these things are bad but everyone is still clueless on where they came from and why they are attacking.

Enter the kitsune, Shinichi and Misao, fox-demons from another realm. Stay with me here. They are here to cause havoc and in the process they make a bargain with Damon. They get the town as long as Damon gets to keep Elena and Bonnie. Only problem with it is getting Stefan, who is supercharged with Elena’s spirit-filled blood, out of the picture. The kitsune tell Damon to give him a website address that leads to a site that promises you can be turned from a vampire to a human. Stefan, wanting to spend a normal human life with Elena, decides to meet with his brother about the website which talks about Shi no Shi (Death of Death) and in the process disappears.

Things look bleak for a long time in this book. Matt, Meredith, and Bonnie get into a potentially fatal car accident, Damon becomes a puppet for the kitsune and almost kills Matt and Elena, and it is one heck of a ride. By the end they have “won the battle, but not the war.” Stefan is still missing, but now they have a map and clues. Most of the girls in town are fixed, but Caroline is still going to be a problem. It is an awesome introductory book into this new plot arc.

I will admit to it having errors, such as them now having smartphones. The books would be set in the summer of 1992 and there were obviously no palms, droids, iPhones, or BlackBerry’s back then. If you can look past little things like that, it is a very enjoyable book. All in all, because I can look past those things, I give the book 4 kisses. I love that Damon is the star in this plot arc and there were several pivotal moments in his character development. While it sometimes became so gory that it read like The Exorcist, there was humor, love, and plenty of creatures to keep the paranormal lover at the edge of their seats.



1. Interesting storyline.

2. Mrs. Flowers (She is back and there is a lot that the little old woman knows).

3. Stefan (He is gone through most of the books, but when he is around, there is something very sweet about him).

4. Elena admits, “And Damon, I know that there is living flesh under the layers and layers he has wrapped around his soul. It’s deeply hidden, but it’s there. If I’m being honest with myself, I have to admit that he touches something deep inside me that makes me shiver –A part of myself that even I don’t understand.” It is wonderful to hear her say that the Ice Queen is melting towards Damon.



1. Elena’s wings (While it is a cool concept, it sometimes feels a bit too convenient.)

2. Sometimes it feels a bit wordy at 39 chapters.

3. There is A LOT going on and it can be difficult to keep up with.



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