The Night World – a series review

The Night World books were originally written in the mid-to-late 1990s, which was when I first read them. Introduced to them by a friend, I was thrilled to find books about the supernatural teenagers, and I tried to read every one I could find. I didn’t manage to read them all at the time; there were a couple that I couldn’t seem to track down for love nor money.

When the books were released as three anthologies a few years ago, I couldn’t resist buying them again. I remembered them being good, creative, fun, and definitely should have been worth repurchasing, even if I still had many of my older copies lying around.

Collection 1 – contains Secret Vampire, Daughters of Darkness, and Spellbinder
Collection 2 – contains Dark Angel, The Chosen, and Soulmate
Collection 3 – contains Huntress, Black Dawn, and Witchlight

The problem is that now that I’m older and have more experience looking at books in a more objective way, these books do not stand up to the test of time, and I admit that yes, I sort of regret spending $30 on the new editions.

Doubly so because the series still isn’t finished. The whole series was leading up to a giant event at the end of 1999. Then the last book didn’t get published. Over a decade later, and any book that could be released now had better be really damn good to explain the gap. It’s a let down to have a series lead up to a real-world event and then to not even finish.

I remember looking desperately for signs it was published. Rumours of friends of friends who saw somebody on eBay who was selling a copy. News that a release date might be forthcoming next month, maybe a few months later, soon, we promise.

I got jaded.

But even outside of personal experience, I can’t think too highly of these books. In being rereleased versions, they retain all their dated references to movies and music and fashion that just aren’t as relatable to modern teens. Most people these days, when they hear someone mention Buffy the Vampire Slayer, aren’t likely to think of the movie but of the 7-season TV show that followed the movie. And most modern teens who watch that movie will likely be laughing more at the 15-year-old fashion than the jokes.

They were written during a time when books for teens were short, swift little things that could be read in an evening. These days, books for teens can end up almost as thick as books for adults and nobody bats an eye. So what might have been decent writing and pacing then comes across now as being rushed and under-developped.

There were many issues with this series that can’t be explained away by the time period, though. I mentioned some of them in my reviews. A translated prophecy that has no variant translations, anywhere, ever. Hypocritical commentary on past-life regression stories. Unrealistic dialogue. The insistance the falling in love will change a person and heal all emotional and mental wounds. I didn’t notice these things when I was younger, but I see them now. Especially all the times that a strong self-reliant female character finds her soulmate and softens, becomes more understanding of others, gets all gooshy and emotional about it. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to females who have fought long and hard to not be judged by who they partner with.

The premise of the series, though, is one I still like. It’s like a watered-down version of the White Wolf universe. Supernatural stuff is out there, hidden secret communities that don’t want humans to know about them. It’s interesting, it taps into the part of our brains that love conspiracies and secrets and thinking that there’s more out there than see at first glance. The fact that the world’s dominant race changes in cycles, that there are two sides in a secret war, all this stuff is the making of a fine tale.

It’s just a shame the tale wasn’t conveyed very strongly. Well-developped novels were interspered with ones that seemed to have little purpose. Good scenes alongside scenes that may as well have no existed, since not only did they do nothing to advance the plot but didn’t even serve as character development. It was uneven, and at times difficult to swallow.

Ultimately, I would have to say that this series is best skipped by most people. It can generate some interest, but for the most part, there are so many other novels out there that this series just can’t hold a candle to that I wouldn’t really recommend it to many. It’s just hard for me to read them now without seeing all the flaws, and because I didn’t see then when I was younger they seem all the more glaring to me. The gloss has been ripped from the memories.

I don’t know whether that’s a shame or not, though. On one hand, I suffered seeing something I used to think was good turn out to be not nearly as good as I thought. It was hard to see that, and in some ways I wish I’d left these books to the shine of my memories. On the other hand, rereading them has allowed me to see the flaws and explore why they were flaws in the first place. Some are subjective, others not so much. So I suppose I can say these books were a good, if frustrating, mental exercise for me.

But since that’s not what they were supposed to be, I can’t say they were worth reading just because I had to do some mental gymnastics.

I will end up reading the final book, if it ever comes out, just to say that I completed the series, and to find out what happens. But that will very probably be the last time I read the books. Sometimes memories are best left on their shelves.

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