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.

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