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L.J. Smith

L.J. SmithLisa Jane (L.J.) Smith lives in the Bay Area of California, with a backyard that is full of flowers. She enjoys hiking and collecting things such as angels (they remind her of her late mother), tiny boxes from different countries or of fanciful shape, nineteenth century children’s literature, and books about quantum physics–especially about the mystery of the dark energy in the universe. She has traveled extensively in Europe and the Far East. The two countries she loves to visit most are Great Britain, with its historic monuments and amazing country landscapes, and Japan, with its bustling urban life and exquisite mountain scenery. She loves Terry Pratchett and Jane Austen.


The Night of the Solstice: A passable children’s fantasy

The Night of the Solstice by L.J. Smith

The Night of the Solstice, followed by its sequel Heart of Valor, were Lisa Jane Smith's first novels, targeted at younger readers, unlike her later (and more popular) horror/teen romance novels surrounding the lives of vampires, witches, shapeshifters and the like.

In her delving into the fantasy world, L.J. Smith introduces us to the four siblings, responsible Alys, normal Charles, kooky Janie and dreamy Claudia who have absolutely nothing to do with each other. All that changes however, when a red vixen lures seven year old Claudia to the strange house upon the hill and asks for her help in saving her mistress, the sorceress Morgana Shee. Convincing Claudia to bring her brother and sisters to the house, the vixen soon enlists all three of them to help her in her quest.

She explains that the house is called Fell And... Read More

Heart of Valor: No Better or Worse than The Night of the Solstice

Heart of Valor by L.J. Smith

Heart of Valor is set a year and a half after the events of the previous book in this two-part series (though both can be read as stand-alone novels), in which four siblings helped the sorceress Morgana Shee prevent the evil sorcerer Cadal Forge from emerging through her magic teleporting mirrors and causing havoc on the world. At the end of 'Night of the Solstice' the doorways to the Wildworld were closed, Cadal was destroyed, and his ally Thia Pendriel managed to escape with the immensely powerful Heart of Valor, a magical gemstone.

All has been quiet since then, with the quirky Janie studying magic under Morgana's guidance, Claudia enjoying her newfound gift to speak to animals, and Alys and Charles simply getting on with their lives. But after what seems like a typical Californian earthquake, the children and the sorceress begin to suspect that Thia is up to something — ... Read More

The Vampire Diaries 1: The Awakening & The Struggle

The Vampire Diaries 1: The Awakening & The Struggle by L.J. Smith

Elena is the ice-blonde queen of the school, admired by girls and boys alike. With her friends, Bonnie and Meredith, she enjoys her status and uses it to snag the most eligible boys. However, Elena always feels as though something is missing. When new boy Stefan starts at the school, she suspects she has found what she is looking for, but Stefan manages to resist her charms. Elena makes a vow with Bonnie and Meredith that she will have Stefan no matter what — little suspecting that he hides a deadly secret. When Stefan's brother Damon arrives on the scene, Elena may be in more trouble than she realizes.

I am a big fan of L.J. Smith's writing, and have enjoyed a number of her books. I did enjoy both The Awakening and The Struggle, but felt that they suffered due to an unlikable main character.... Read More

The Vampire Diaries 2: The Fury & The Reunion

The Vampire Diaries: The Fury & The Reunion by L.J. Smith

This is the second bind-up for THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. The Fury and The Reunion were originally published as two separate books; in fact, The Reunion was published some time after The Fury, which effectively closes the trilogy begun with The Awakening and The Struggle). In The Fury Elena, alongside her friends Bonnie and Meredith, struggles to control her nature and discover the source of the evil Power that is haunting Fell’s Church. She knows that the only way it can be defeated is if the two vampire brothers Stefan and Damon can put alongside their lifelong enmity and work together. In The Reunion Fell’s Church is once again being terrorised b... Read More

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall by L.J. Smith

Elena Gilbert has returned from the Other Side, and has to relearn how to live amongst humans. She is helped by the love of her life — Stefan Salvatore, a vampire — and her three closest friends. However, evil forces are gathering around Fell’s Church, drawn by the beacon of a returned soul, and Stefan is snatched away from Elena when she needs him most. She has to turn to his dark brother, Damon, for help — never knowing for certain what motivates Damon or whether he has been possessed by the dark forces that want to steal Elena for themselves.

Unfortunately, The Return: Nightfall is a horrific mess of a story. It is a long rambling book — almost 500 pages, which is a great deal longer than any of L.J. Smith’s previous novels — and seems to leap from event to event without any obvious connection. Some of the writing i... Read More

The Initiation: Classic YA paranormal romance

The Initiation by L.J. Smith

Cassie Blake is distraught when her mother decides to uproot to the small town of New Salem in order to take care of a grandmother who Cassie had never even met before. But that is only the start of her problems. Starting a new school, trying to make new friends — and discovering that some of the people she would most like to befriend are all part of some secret Club that Cassie is not permitted to join. Then a girl dies and Cassie is finally initiated into the Secret Circle, learning that magic is more than just a folktale.

These days the YA market is flooded with paranormal activity — witches amongst them. But in 1992 when LJ Smith first wrote The Secret Circle trilogy it was something fresh and new — and should be reviewed with that in mind. LJ Smith was producing well-written compulsive novels about teenagers in love LONG before... Read More

The Captive: Characters to care about

The Captive by L.J. Smith

The Captive is the second book in the Secret Circle trilogy by L.J. Smith. In this book Faye tightens her hold around Cassie, blackmailing her over her love for Adam and forcing her to betray Diana. At the same time the Circle learns that a dark power is on the loose and killing, and Cassie begins to suspect that the crystal skull recovered from Black John's articles is behind the deaths.

L.J. Smith has written a number of trilogies in the YA paranormal arena, and excels at the format. The middle book of her trilogies draws upon and builds the characters introduced in the first novel, while laying the groundwork for the main thrust of the plot that will be delivered in the final book. There is little overall resolution to any of the plotlines in The Captive. In fact, it ends on something of a cliffhanger, so you might like to have the third book to hand prior to starting, or else risk frustration at wanti... Read More

The Power: Stands up to adult eyes and a second read

The Power by L.J. Smith

The Power is the third and final book in The Secret Circle trilogy by L J Smith. In this story, the Circle are shattered by Faye's revelations at a time when they need to be at their strongest. Black John is back, and Cassie is horrified when it is revealed why she feels such a strong connection with him. He has returned to claim the Master Tools and become the leader of the coven of twelve that he had such a hand in creating — which means that one member of the Circle must die...

L J Smith writes perfect teenage escapist fiction — as long as you suspend your disbelief and don't look for the plot holes. Although the first two books in the trilogy (The Initiation and The Captive) are pretty strong, and thoroughly enjoyable reads, The P... Read More

Dark Visions: If you like Edward, you’ll love Gabriel

Dark Visions by L.J. Smith

"If You've Got Darkness in Your Nature, You Might as Well Enjoy It..."

One of the beneficial side effects of the sudden surge in paranormal teen romance is that Lisa Jane Smith's novels have been republished. They were essential reading material in my adolescence and getting the chance to reread them in my twenty-something-hood has been lots of fun. Supernatural creatures, love triangles, empowered heroines, a solid story, and clear narrative with just a hint of purple prose are the staple ingredients in any L.J. Smith trilogy.

Kaitlyn Fairchild is isolated and ostracized in her small town, considered a witch by her peers and plenty of adults too due to her ability to draw precognitive visions. She can never find a way of preventing her dark visions from coming true, leading to circulating rumors that she not only sees the future... Read More

The Forbidden Game: A frantic and exciting story

The Forbidden Game by L.J. Smith

Well, I do have to thank the Twilight phenomena for one thing at least, and that's that the collected trilogies of Lisa Jane Smith have been pulled out of the Simon and Schuster publishing vault, given brand spanking new covers, and re-released for both a new reading audience, and old-time fans who are ready to fill in the gaps on their bookshelves.

Out of all Smith's body of work, it was The Forbidden Game that I was least familiar with. First published as a trilogy, the middle book was on the shelf of my school library, but the preceding and concluding installments were impossible to get hold of. For the last six years or so, all I had experienced was a story with no beginning and no end. As such, it was with immense satisfaction that I settled down with all three books handily bound togeth... Read More

The Night World 1: For teen vamp stories, you could do worse

THE NIGHT WORLD: Volume 1 by L.J. Smith

"So This is the Night World…"

First published between 1996-1998, Lisa Jane Smith's NIGHT WORLD series was released as a ten-book series...only the final book never arrived. Smith took a ten-year hiatus from writing, leaving the final book unwritten and the steadily-building story incomplete. But now, finally, the end is in sight. Simon and Schuster are republishing the series in three-book omnibuses in anticipation for Strange Fate the last in the series that has left us hanging for over ten years.

Like so many, I was a teenager when I first began reading her books and it was a certain sense of nostalgia that brought me back again. Although her stories stretch a certain amount of credibility, they are undoubtedly superior to most run-of-the-mill supernatural teen books. The basis premise is a winner: "the Night Worl... Read More

The Night World 2: Much better than Twilight

THE NIGHT WORLD: Volume 2 by L.J. Smith

"There Is Plenty of Darkness..."

The first omnibus edition of The Night World sets up the basic premise of the Night World, introducing several concepts and characters that pop up again in later books, and are quick, entertaining reads. But it's not until the fifth story (found in this collection) in the series that things really get moving, and Smith begins to draw on her established history of the Night World, bring back past characters, and begin to set the scene for more epic things to come.

Dark Angel is unfortunately the weakest book in the entire series, namely because it has little to do with the Night World at all. Gillian Lennox is walking home from school one day when she's overcome by hypothermia and succumbs to the cold. Yet on her way up the infamous "tunnel of light" she i... Read More

The Night World 3: Three of the best stories in the series

THE NIGHT WORLD: Volume 3 by L.J. Smith

"Four to Stand Between the Light and the Shadow..."

Whereas the first Night World omnibus set up the basic concept for the Night World and the rules in place for its existence, the second began to give the sense that all the stories were interconnected rather than one-off stories. With each installment, more was learned about the history of the sub-world, the concept of soulmates, and (particularly in this final omnibus) the coming of the end of the world. Such was the case for the first nine books in this series, but unfortunately, the final book in the series was never published, leaving readers hanging as to how the story ended.

For example, despite the fact that each book features a new female protagonist, other secondary characters often pop up in cameo appearances, and there is the sense that the world arou... Read More