The Vampire Diaries: The Return Trilogy by L.J. Smith

Those of you who are on Team Delana will love this series. People like me who are firmly on Team Stalana had a harder time swallowing this series, although I can certainly see Damon's appeal. Stefan appeals to me more I think because his love is innocent and pure, which is like wine to a sorry romantic sap like myself. He loves Elena so much that he is willing to do anything, be anything, and give her anything she desires. It kinda makes him seem like a pushover, but the innocence of a love like that is sweet and endearing. Damon's love for Elena, on the other hand, is dark, passionate, and slightly frightening, which has its own appeal. I guess I'm just more of a Romeo and Juliet kind of girl...what can I say? LOL! I did not like this one as much as the previous series, but L.J. Smith is an imaginative writer and she weaves a very imaginative and inventive world. If you are a fan of the 1st series and enjoy vampires and good YA Fiction, this is a good series to get into.

**Might contain some spoilers so proceed with caution!**

The Return Trilogy is the next chapter of the series The Vampire Diaries. Defying explanation, Elena has returned from the Other Side alive and human. All appears well as we left our motley crew celebrating after defeating Klaus and chasing away Tyler Smallwood, his werewolf sidekick. However, Elena's return is not without a hitch, as she quickly evolves into a child-like spirit. Elena loses the ability to walk, talk, read, write, etc. and must rediscover all of these things. One thing she has not forgotten is her intense love of Stefan. While Elena slowly recovers her abilities, it becomes clear to Stefan that Elena is more than human. Her blood contains a new power, which quickly proves to be desirable force. 

As Stefan plots a new way to keep Elena safe so they can build a life together, evil forces, drawn by the ley lines (lines of power) that cross Fell's Church and Elena's essence, once again descend on the small town. Strange things begin to happen again as the young women of the town appear to be possessed by some unknown power. Damon is determined as ever to have Elena by his side as his princess of darkness and makes a deal with kitsune twins, named Shinichi and Misao who are evil fox spirits, to get Stefan out of the way and secure Elena. Unbeknownst to Damon, these evil twins have other plans and Damon finds himself victim of their possession. Elena must now find a way to save her friends, the town, and Damon, a seemingly impossible task, until she discovers she possesses powers and gifts bestowed on her in the afterlife. With crisis averted for now, Elena must now find and rescue Stefan.

The Return Trilogy continues with Shadow Souls. Elena and Damon, armed with the clues given to them by Misao, must travel to the Dark Dimension to locate two half of a fox key in order to free Stephen from the Shi no Shi, the prison where he is being held. Elena sets off with Damon and Matt across the country to Arizona to a gate that will allow them to enter into the Dark Dimension. While traveling, Elena finds herself increasingly drawn to Damon and has difficulty resisting his advances. Elena comes to care for Damon and is desperate to find a way to help him unlock his humanity, which he so carefully keeps chained up inside of him. Damon is trying to help Elena gain control of her newly acquired powers. Matt, who becomes increasingly suspicious of Damon and Elena's relationship, leaves and returns to Fell's Church to help Mrs. Flowers defend against the ever increasing darkness that is spreading throughout the town. Meanwhile, Bonnie and Meredith show up in Arizona and travel with Elena and Damon into the Dark Dimension. The only hitch is that the girls must travel as Damon's "slaves." In the end and with a lot of help, Elena is able to rescue Stefan and returns to Fell's Church. Just when she thinks she is in the clear, Shinichi shows up with the promise of more mischief to come. Damon, who lets his curiosity get the best of him, finds himself human after opening a bunch of flowers given to Stefan by a good kitsune. Now that Elena has rescued Stefan, she must deal with all the fall out of what's to come...

The Return Trilogy concludes with Midnight. Damon, having inadvertently become human after using the gift given to Stefan by a good kitsune he was imprisoned with, is determined to make it back to the Dark Dimension to find a powerful vampire to change him. He steals Misao's star ball and uses the power to open a doorway to the Dark Dimension. When Bonnie tries to stop Damon, she finds herself stuck in the Dark Dimension and shut up and abandoned in a room awaiting Damon's return. When Bonnie leaves her room, she is arrested as a runaway slave and is taken to a slave holding to be sold.

Meanwhile, back in Fell's Church the chaos is reaching new heights. Elena and Stefan head off into the Dark Dimension to rescue Bonnie, while Matt and Meredith remain to defend Fell's Church with the help of Mrs. Flowers. They quickly learn that everything they thought they knew about the evil poisoning their town and each other is not what they expected. Having "rescued" Bonnie, Damon, Stefan, Elena, and Bonnie set off on a quest to recover a powerful star ball, after Bonnie has a premonition, in the hopes of using its power to cleanse Fell's Church of evil once and for all. Along the way they face many challenges and one of them is lost forever, or so it seems...

I don't want to give too much more away about this book, other than to say that it did not end how I expected it to and it is totally and completely left open for a sequel...which there is! The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters...volumes 1 and 2 are out now, volume 3 is due out in October.


The Vampire Diaries: Volumes 1-4 by L.J. Smith

This is another reread for me. I first picked up this series in 2009 when I heard that they were making a television series based on the books. Because I love all things vampire, I was intrigued by the show and quickly got hooked, which led me to pick up the book series as well. On a side note, if you haven’t checked out The Vampire Diaries on the WB, you should. Even though it is geared towards a young adult demographic, the writing for the show is excellent. In fact, I think I almost prefer it to the books, which is not something I normally say. Plus, there are a lot of hot guys in it J. But I digress…

Three years ago I read Volumes 1-4 and Volume 1 of The Vampire Diaries: The Return, which is the sequel. I had to stop there and wait for the next volume to be published, which is one thing I hate about reading a series. Needless to say in the meantime I read several other books and the series got pushed further down my “to read” list. Since I first read the series, there have been several more books published, including Volumes 2 and 3 of The Return and Volumes 1-6 of Stefan’s Diaries, a spin-off series, which means I have a lot of catching up to do! However, it’s been awhile since I’ve had a good vampire fix, so I figured it can’t hurt to start back at the beginning (especially since I can’t get my weekly fix since the TV show is now on summer hiatus and the new season of True Blood doesn’t premiere until June 10th).

**I will try not to reveal too much, but be forewarned that there may be some spoilers, so proceed with caution.** 

The Awakening introduces us the Elena Gilbert – the golden girl who is used to getting whatever and whomever she wants – who has just returned from Paris after escaping there to recover from her parents’ sudden deaths in a car crash leaving her and her younger sister orphans and in the care of her aunt and her aunt’s fiancĂ©. Elena is anxious to begin her senior year of high school and reclaim her position as queen of Robert E. Lee High School. Enter Stefan Salvatore – a mysterious and brooding newcomer with a dark secret. Stefan is a vampire. Despite Elena’s best attempts, Stefan seems determined not to become involved with the beautiful blonde as he fights to protect her from himself. However, Elena and Stefan are increasingly drawn together and fall in love. All seems to be going well until a series of murders rock the town of Fell’s Church. The townsfolk become increasingly suspicious of Stefan’s involvement in these murders, and he can’t be sure himself that he is not the murderer. There is one other possibility – Damon Salvatore, Stefan’s older brother who also happens to be a vampire, has returned. Damon is determined to seek his revenge on Stefan and to have Elena for himself, and Elena finds herself caught between the two brothers.

The story continues in The Struggle as Elena finds her world turned upside down. A new history teacher, Alaric Saltzman, arrives in town and there is something not quite right about him. The town remains suspicious of Stefan and people have become wary of Elena as well because of her association with him. Elena knows the truth – Damon is the murderer. However, any evidence she has to prove it could easily be turned against Stefan and make him look guilty. When Elena’s diary goes missing and mysterious messages begin appearing threatening to expose Stefan as the murderer. Elena becomes desperate to discover the culprit. Adding to her distress is Damon and his relentless pursuit of her. Damon is determined that Elena will be his and is not above going after her loved ones to obtain his goal. Although Elena loves Stefan, she cannot deny that she feels a certain pull towards Damon. As his pursuit intensifies, Elena finds herself on the brink of destruction, her own survival hanging in the balance.

Just when you think Elena is dead, the story continues in The Fury, with Elena waking up in the woods as a vampire. She sets off to find Damon and Stefan locked in a furious battle, and her only thought is to protect Damon. In her new state, Elena has forgotten her love for Stefan and is convinced that she loves Damon. Stefan, devastated by this turn of events, reluctantly relinquishes Elena to Damon's protection. As Elena continues to adjust to her new existence, her memories return to her and she remembers her love for Stefan. Their reunion is short lived however when strange things begin to happen in Fell's Church again. The weather changes, animals turn on their masters, and it becomes clear that the town is under attack from something evil. Elena convinces Damon and Stefan to enter into an uneasy truce as they set out to find this "Other Power" and destroy it. It quickly becomes clear that no one is what they seem and everyone is a suspect. In the battle to destroy the Other Power Elena is once again confronted by the ghosts of Stefan and Damon's past, and is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to say the ones she loves.

This part of the story concludes with Dark Reunion. Elena is gone. Stefan, in his grief, has followed Damon to Italy in an attempt to fulfill his final promise to Elena – to take care of Damon. He is summoned by Bonnie, who is descendant from witches, with a summoning spell back to Fell’s Church after Elena visits her in her dreams and warns her that danger has once again returned. Strange things begin happening in Fell’s Church and new horrors, including werewolves, threaten the entire town when Klaus, Katherine’s maker, returns seeking revenge on the Salvatore brothers. An epic battle between Klaus and the Salvatore brothers ensues, and when all hope is lost, Elena returns from the other side with the spirits of Civil War soldiers to save the day. Just when it appears that Elena and Stefan will be separated again, this time forever, Elena returns to them as a human.

After everything they have been through, a ray of light has returned to Fell's Church. The question is, will it last? The story continues in The Vampire Diaries: The Return, Volumes 1-3.