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Book 69-70: Vampire Diaries: The Return Shadow Souls and Midnight by L.J. Smith

Book 69: The Return: Shadow Souls (Vampire Diaries 06).
Author: L. J. Smith, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Young Adult.
Other Details: Paperback 512 pages. Unabridged Audiobook: Length: 16 hours, 28 mins. Read by Rebecca Mozo.

In June 2010 I read the first in this new Vampire Diaries trilogy and had a bit of a rant about it (My 2010 Book 62). There was a fair amount of silliness in Nightfall and I approached this novel expecting more of the same.

I decided to ignore Smith's reconning of the series by updating from the 1990s to current day even though it continued to slightly bother me every time the internet or mobile phones were mentioned. Her tendency to over describe scenes also continued, which slowed the pace down to a snail's crawl at times.

Without giving any real spoilers for previous books, in this one Elena and Damon undertake a road trip in order to rescue Stefan from the situation he got himself into in Nightfall. This involves entering the Dark Dimensions accompanied by other members of their Scooby Gang. I found that despite my quibbles Smith's story telling skills did carry me along and being a firm member of Team Damon I was pleased with the focus upon the dynamic between Elena and Damon. I enjoyed it enough that I immediately moved onto Book 7 on audio, keeping as usual the paperback to hand as well.

Book 70: The Return Shadow Souls (Vampire Diaries 07).
Author: L. J. Smith, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Young Adult.
Other Details: Paperback 458 pages. Unabridged Audiobook: Length: 15 hrs, 48 mins. Read by Rebecca Mozo.

This completes the trilogy with the story line about the kitsune, their threat to Fells Church and excursions to the Dark Dimensions coming to a conclusion. Again, I set aside my quibbles and just enjoyed the story. I did find the ending a little contrived but could appreciate that Smith wished to set up for future books and perhaps to put to rest some aspects introduced in Nightfall.

After seeing 'Kung Fu Panda 2' and doing some investigation on TV Tropes, I could see that Elena's rather annoying 'wings powers' were also part of Smith's love affair with animé and all things Japanese that proved a major influence in this trilogy.

I know I'm unlikely ever to warm to Elena (in the novels) or Stefan but I am fond of Bonnie, Meredith and, of course, Damon. I was planning to read her new series when in appears in paperback. However, on hearing that Smith has been removed from writing further books in the series (they will bear her name but will be ghost-written), I feel ambivalent. It is quite obvious from her February 2011 blog entry that this was not her choice and while she asks readers not to boycott the new books but to give them a chance, I feel a certain outrage about the decision to remove her. Hopefully, the publisher's continued use of her name as author means that she will at least continue to get some income from her creation.
Tags: paranormal, romance, vampires, young adult
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