Monday, August 08, 2011

Nightfall (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #1) by L. J. Smith

Nightfall (The Vampire Diaries: The Return, #1) SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Elena Gilbert is alive - again. When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back. Now Elena is not just human. She has powers. What's more, her blood pulses with a unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire. Both brothers still want Elena to be theirs, but something bigger and more powerful than all of them may want her more.


Let me first get over with the one thing that is not so good in Nightfall – the writing. It is not that bad, I especially like some genuinely funny parts in this book, but it could certainly use another round of editing. What bothered me the most was that the transitions between the scenes are too jumpy on several spots, and there are also a few inconsistencies. However, none of these present any major impediment for enjoying all that is good in Nightfall, and there is plenty of that, I must say.

The plot is action-packed, suspenseful, and full of twists and turns. Elena’s return and the consequent changes of her character are well-done. She has to learn anew a lot of things, including how to use her powers. Soon she realises that with her altered state, she has acquired new responsibility for her actions. Therefore, she is trying to figure out herself and help others at the same time.

Other characters retain their familiarity while benefiting of additional bits and pieces here and there. Bonnie is struggling to learn how to be brave, Matt finds himself in a whole lot of trouble, Meredith is still the one who keeps everybody together, and Caroline is as nasty as ever, cleaning up her own mess at everybody else’s cost.

For the most part of the book absent Stefan is still Stefan, while Damon takes the reins in his hands. Smith throws in some new information about the brothers’ past, slowly rounding up the reasons for what they are like. Damon’s being possessed by a greater evil is carried out so well that even the reader who knows about the possession might forget about it. However, if one pays attention, there are clues which clearly show whether the real Damon or his possessor is in control. The clash between Damon’s true self, his possessed side, and his possessor is extremely intense and enthralling to witness.

The evil side is spearheaded by the evil twins Shinichi and his sister Misao, with whom Smith introduces a whole new spectre of the paranormal. The effects of their mischief are gory, and Smith fully confronts the reader with both physical and emotional pain they cause in Fell’s Church. Shinichi and Misao are the kind of villains one loves to hate, and I believe the series definitely has not seen the last of them with the end of Nightfall.

The ending reveals that everything comes with a price, and no good deed goes unpunished. However, I liked that in Damon’s case, because he pays that price by his own choice, and it leaves open a way for him to work for his redemption, which I am curious about among other things. The ending of the book is a perfect mixture of a closure and open issues. Whereas it ties all the important loose ends, it still leaves enough space for the reader to want more.

RECOMMENDATION: If you can get past the writing issues, this is a compelling read especially for the fans of the series and the author. For my part, it was totally worth to suffer some writing confusion to read this otherwise fantastic story.


  1. I love the enthusiastic review! I noticed the bad writing in the first book, but the story is, luckily, so good that one can get past it. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

  2. I haven't read any of these though I have been watching the tv show when they deign to show it. Usually they show about 2 episodes and then it disappears for a month only to repeat the pattern - very frustrating!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  3. @ Shelleyrae: Oh, that is frustrating:( The show is very different from the books, although, now, with the fifth book, I can see more and more traits the show writers picked up from the books.


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