69 points/100 (3 ½ stars/5)
Stefan Salvatore has been taken by that kitsune trickster, Shinichi. Elena will do anything to get him back, anything. Including going to the Dark Dimension where he is being held prisoner.
“We who are so lucky as to be born into the light – who see it every day and never think about it, we’re blessed. We could have been born shadow souls who live and die in crimson darkness, never even knowing that somewhere there is something better.”
I enjoyed Shadow Souls more than I did Nightfall. This may be because it doesn’t take as long to actually start having things happening. There are some interesting pieces of new bits of the world to come out, as well. I enjoyed going to what is essentially hell/limbo/whatever you want to call it (this series uses Dark Dimension).
There is a lot of things that happen in Shadow Souls. More than I realised was happening while reading it, because there is so much that happens at every step that the different parts of the book don’t all feel like the same book. The problem is is that this is just not focused. At all. There are so many side adventures and things that really, really didn’t need to happen at all. I really wish this would have been condensed down and had the word length of the original series, because the same amount of important things happen in each book of the original series as happens in Shadow Souls. There is just so much extra in the side adventures added on.
The plot is really about getting Stefan out of jail after his messing up the book prior. Elena is lost without him. This plot is actually quite insane. Go here, go there. Go with this person, surprise nope you’re going with these people. Oh look now we are here and we have to jump through a bunch of hoops. I actually have no idea why we are jumping through these hoops, other than “because the author said so” and “it is easier than trying to power our way through elsewise”. The story makes it feels like a game more than a book. A game more than a rescue, even. Elena knows Stefan is basically fighting for his life, and she is basically playing a game.
The setting changes. We’re no longer in some small town in the middle of Virginia. We’re going to the Dark Dimension. A place that is very weird, and hard to define. I love it, I’m super into it. I just wish more time was dedicated to actually explaining it. It is purposely left vague, and I couldn’t really tell you anything about the landscape or the place. I can tell you a lot about the society, but not about what it looks like. If I could have one wish for this book, it would be that more time was spent explaining where we were at.
Damon changes over the course of this book, and the changes are for the better, but in a mostly character-consistent way. I love Damon in this book. With Stefan away due to being taken at the end of the last book, Damon had to step up and become what Elena needed in order to get Stefan back. The changes to Damon, and his relationship with Elena, are breathtaking in Shadow Souls. I loved every step of the way. And part of the reason for that is because of deepening of the relationship between Elena and Damon. There is nothing more I want at this stage in the game than for Elena to be with both Damon and Stefan.
Overall a solid addition to the series. Even though it is the middle of a trilogy, it doesn’t really feel like it has middle child syndrome. It was just what we had to do to get where we were going. I’m increasingly liking the characters, and I feel like we have a lot more we can accomplish.