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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

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

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls by L.J. Smith
Publisher: Harper Teen/Harper Collins
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (599 pgs)
Rating: 3 suns
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

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.

What do you do when the love of your undead life is ripped away from you yet again and imprisoned in the scariest place possible? Go after him!

That’s just what Elena sets out to do in The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls.

First and foremost, there is a lot going on in this story. There is a multitude of characters to keep straight and a strained love triangle that still needs a bit of ironing—but if it all went smoothly, there’d be no action, angst, or story.

LJ Smith really got me entangled in this story when Stefan is in the Dark Dimension. Talk about a creepy place. I felt like I was really there with him and, trust me, I wanted to get out.

The issue threading through the series is perfect Elena’s seesawing decisions to love Stefan or Damon. I can identify with her dilemma. Stefan tends to get swept away and needs her rescuing. He also is very beta to her alpha and that got tiresome after a bit. But then there’s Damon. The bad boy is very, very bad, yet it’s so good. I can see the attraction to his dark moodiness, but there’s his bloodlust and ill will that gets in the way of his sexiness. And every time Stefan’s away, Elena feels the pull to Damon. What a conundrum—which brother to love.

Although there are bits of dialogue that seems stilted and still a bit of soap boxing, the story is worth the read. But be prepared for the ending. I didn’t see it coming and it totally saved the book for me. The ending is a real breath taker.

If you like moody antagonists, doting heroes, and strong heroines, then you need to read The Return: Shadow Souls. I give it 3 suns.

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