Gr 9 Up--This first book in the new story arc in the "Vampire Diaries" series features the same characters who appeared in The Awakening and the Struggle (2007) and The Fury and Dark Reunion (2008, both HarperTeen). Elena Gilbert has been reborn but is trapped in a childlike state, suffering from amnesia. She not only possesses extraordinary superpowers, but is also a magnet to vampires everywhere. As she regains her adult mind, she loses the ability to control her powers. Damon, who never truly leaves at the end of Dark Reunion, becomes determined to have Elena all to himself. At the same time, a new evil descends on Fell's Church, something far worse and more sinister than anything the town has encountered before. This villainous creature possesses humans, particularly young teenage girls. Even worse is its possession and manipulation of powerful Damon, who is trusted by Elena and her friends. Controlled against his will, he inflicts harm on the people he has promised to keep safe. Smith writes from several different perspectives, which adds some dimension to the plot but it is disjointed and hard to follow. The story is dark, full of suspense, and, at times, extremely creepy. Unfortunately the magical and horror elements are not thoroughly convincing, and this new evil seems to come right out of a Japanese anime comic. Purchase where Smith has a fan base or there is a strong vampire following.--Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY[Page 138]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 9 Up--This second installment in a "Vampire Diaries" subseries picks up exactly where Nightfall (HarperTeen, 2009) left off. The evil kitsune twins, Shinichi and Misao, have descended on Fell's Church and inflicted pain and suffering on the community. Even the mighty Damon was tricked into helping them kidnap Stefan and imprison him in the "Dark Dimension." Damon regrets being involved in his brother's demise and agrees to take Elena with him to rescue Stefan from his hellish prison. This trip isn't easy and the riddlelike clues are twisted and confusing. They are joined by Meredith and Bonnie and enter the "Dark Dimension," a place where humans are the slaves of vampires, demons, and kitsunes. Allying themselves with all sorts of characters, they must find Stefan, launch a rescue mission, and somehow get themselves back to Fell's Church. Smith's tale lacks the intrigue and appeal of the original series. The plot is disjointed and confusing, making certain parts slow and difficult to follow. The most promising development is between Elena and Damon. Damon shows his vulnerability by revealing to Elena the true depth of his feelings for her. As they become closer, Elena must come to terms with her feeling for both brothers and where her love truly lies. Purchase where Smith has a fan base.--Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY[Page 164]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.