Elena Gilbert is once again at the centre of magic and danger beyond her imagining. And once more, Stefan isn't there to help! Elena is forced to trust her life to Damon, the handsome but deadly vampire who wants Elena, body and soul. They must journey to the slums of the Dark Dimension, a world where vampires and demons roam free, but humans must live as slaves of their supernatural masters. Damon's brother, the brooding vampire Stefan whom Elena loves, is imprisoned here, and Elena can only free him by finding the two hidden halves of the key to his cell. Meanwhile, the tension between Elena and Damon mounts until Elena is faced with a terrible decision: which brother does she really want to be with? The drama, danger and star-crossed love that fills each Vampire Diaries book is in full effect here, with Elena Gilbert once again filled with supernatural powers.
I have never experienced so much change and diversity in another series like I have experienced with The Vampire Diaries series.Awakening and Shadow Souls are like night and day,it's almost like reading another series altogether, if it was not for the same characters.Of course, writing,almost 20 years later,a sequel to a series that appeared to have ended, played a huge part in it.
The Vampire Diaries is not about Elena, a school student who gets herself in a love triangle with two hunky vampires anymore.It's so much more than that.Basically, it doesn't even fall under the YA category any more.Shadow Souls is a Fantasy book, through and through.We are talking dark dimensions, out of body experiences,spirits,higher beings,wings,bird like monsters,fox like monsters(!),the whole nine!Yes, I am still talking about Vampire Diaries!Obviously, Smith was in a totally different state of mind when she started writing The Return books.She didn't want to repeat herself or mimic others.So she writes something so unique, that it stands out among its genre, and even transforming into another on the way.
That being said, change is not necessarily good.It's not necessarily bad either.This time, it's somewhere in between.Some parts were great, other parts not so much.Also, this book is quite big and sometimes you catch yourself nodding off after some never ending description of scenery, dresses and yes, Elena's powers!
I don't even know where to start when it comes to the characters.Well, sure thing is that Elena is the main,and sometimes you feel,the only character.She has all the Power,the beauty,the strength,the will,the wits,everything. I am not a fan of Elena, so I didn't care much for the whole "bow to goddess Elena" situation.Bonnie,Meredith,Matt and Damon are all such pivotal characters and key players to everything that goes on in the Vampire Diaries universe, and I feel that sometimes they are left behind a little bit, becoming Elena's shadows,following her every command blindly.That was what mostly put me off in this book,I think.Also Elena's whole Stefan/Damon dilemma,seemed a bit rushed to me.She never expressed any romantic feelings towards Damon and to do it now, especially when she decides to embark on a life threatening journey to another dimension to save the love of her life,Stefan,didn't seem believable at all.
To all of you Stefan fans out there, I hate to let you down, but you're not gonna see much of him in this book.However, Smith makes up for it by introducing an amazing new character,Sage.I don't want to spoil you with details about him,but I'll tell you this : he has a pet falcon!How cool is that?
I cannot clearly state if I liked this book or not.I can safely say that I liked it better than Nightfall,though.I can only compare it with that, because comparing it with the first four books would be unfair, as I feel The Return books make a whole other,totally different series by themselves.If you have read Nightfall,then I suggest you read Shadow Souls as well.If you have only read the first four books of the original Vampire Diaries series, you should probably stop there.
One useful tip:Something HUGE happens at the end of the book!