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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Review: The Vampire Diaries–The Return: Shadow Souls by L.J. Smith

On the run . . .

Elena Gilbert's love, the vampire Stefan Salvatore, has been captured and imprisoned by demonic spirits who are wreaking havoc in Fell's Church. While her friends Bonnie and Meredith explore the evil that has taken over their town, Elena goes in search of Stefan.

In order to find him, she entrusts her life to Stefan's brother, Damon Salvatore, the handsome but deadly vampire who wants Elena, body and soul. Along with her childhood friend Matt, they set out for the slums of the Dark Dimension, where Stefan is being held captive. It is rumored to be a world where vampires and demons roam free, but humans must live enslaved to their supernatural masters. . . .

Elena will stop at nothing to free Stefan. Yet with each passing day the tension between Elena and Damon grows, and she is faced with a terrible decision: Which brother does she really want?

Back in Fell's Church, Bonnie and Meredith have made some dire discoveries. They hastily try to follow Elena and warn her—only to be caught up in Elena's most dangerous adventure yet.

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My Review:

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls is the book, in my opinion, that started the beginning of the end. The love triangle had been festering for a whopping five books and eventually, like a nasty boil, it had to come to a head.

The book begins with Elena, full of other worldly blood, vengeance, and heartbreak. She isn’t the same girl we met in the first book that was so self-absorbed, she couldn’t conceive the thought that the most mysterious boy in school wasn’t interested in her. There has been some serious growth in her since she died twice. Little things still bother her, like the fact her boyfriend has been kidnapped by kitsune demons and her ex-boyfriend is being hunted by police like an animal. But this Elena has put all those frustrations aside to find an actual solution. Luckily for the readers, and Damon lovers, this solution is a road trip with said ex-boyfriend (Matt), and the brother of her current boyfriend. For Stefan lovers abroad this was a book they would be destined to hate.

Elena is writing in her diary using more modern technology, leaving herself a voice note on her cell phone to catch everyone up from what happened over the last couple weeks of her life. I have always liked the diary format for reminding readers of how things went down from the characters’ point of view. It always feels as if you are getting a secret peek into their every thought and feeling without things being laid so cleanly. Unfortunately for her, the spilling session comes to a halt when a loud noise takes her from her musings. Damon threw Matt on top of her car. Now, there has been a heck of a feud between the vampire and the all-star football player since they met, but placing them in a vehicle together with Elena after Damon had just unwittingly tortured them both was bound to cause some drama. Apparently Matt is so naïve to believe he can stake a five hundred year old vampire, and Damon can’t hurt him because Elena is so close to admitting some of her feelings.

There is a big confrontation between Damon and Matt before Damon takes Elena, swoops her in the air, and shows her he can fly. And this in turn leads to a kiss. Not just a kiss, but more of a revolutionary mingling that forces her to actually confront almost two years’ worth of feelings.

Elena has picked up more than the “wings abilities” from her time as a ghost. After being distraught and quite annoying about her feelings towards Damon after the kiss, she realizes she can project her spirit across thousands of miles –and a dimension- to see Stefan and tell him they are coming for him. While I believe this was a hokey way to bring Stefan into the story, it does bring up a good point. Elena is a virgin. You shocked? I was. Apparently the “tears of a maiden” can cure illness. So as Stefan is dying in the Shi No Shi, a prison he is being held captive in, she is able to astral project in a way to find him and heal him with her tears before she is shoved back into her body.

Back in crazy Fell’s Church, Bonnie and Meredith are dealing with police who won’t stop their search for Matt and a psychotic half beast- half human/demon possessed Caroline. It isn’t the most intriguing part of the book, so I won’t go on and on about it. I will just let everyone know Caroline is something out of a horror movie.

Back on the road, things are heating up between Elena and Damon. The trio have ditched her red Porsche that Stefan bought her for something a little less inconspicuous. Matt sees a wonderfully awkward encounter between Elena and Damon that sends him to the edge of what he can deal with. He takes one of the silver Prius’ they traded the Porsche for, and heads back to Fell’s Church. This allows Bonnie and Meredith, who have some information about the kitsune, to meet up with Damon and Elena so they can go to the “Dark Dimension” as Damon’s human slaves.

That is a summary of the first twelve of forty four chapters. I left out tons of goodies like a night Damon and Elena shared in a hotel room. This book is my favorite in the entire series and I could write twenty pages of a review and explain every reason why this story is so fabulous, but in all honestly it isn’t necessary. It is a well written, creative book that takes the reader into a dimension that L.J. Smith created from scratch. New characters are introduced. There is action, torture, death, and if that isn’t enough incentive then all of the alone time Damon spends literally licking Elena’s wounds should be. The pair grow so close in the book, she has to admit to her boyfriend, Stefan, that she has inadvertently fallen in love with his brother.

Because people complain about editorial writers being biased and not giving a negative part of something they are reviewing, I will leave you with this tidbit. The ending is atrocious. I hate when books give a cliffhanger and this annoys me to the point of hatred. When I first read the novel, I felt amazing accomplishment as I reached chapter forty two, even more at forty three, but when I reached forty four and didn’t have the next book, I was so frustrated that I ran to every bookstore within twenty miles searching for one that was open at four am so I could continue reading. I felt so transported into the world that I could not bear to go to bed and begin in the morning.

Shadow Souls is everything a fan of the “Delena” romance could ever want. With that said, it gets five kisses. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I gave it any less. It was everything I had ever wanted for the series.

1. Tons of Delena romance

2. Stefan is gone through 80% of the book, and when he is around he isn’t a love sick puppy

3. The Dark Dimension (it is so descriptive I can still imagine every detail about it months after reading it)

4. New characters! They are awesome!

1. There is a sense of melancholy as the story line with the kitsune is coming to an end. It is felt through their struggle to find Stefan and no matter how badly I wish things could stay. Once Stefan is found, everything goes back to the way it was before he left.




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