Literature / Night World

Not a woman you want to mess with.

Four to stand between the light and shadow,
Four of blue fire, power in their blood.
Born in the year of the blind Maiden's vision;
Four less one and darkness triumphs.

One from the land of kings long forgotten,
One from the hearth which still holds the spark,
One from the Day World where two eyes are watching,
One from the twilight to be one with the dark.
Aradia, Huntress

L.J. Smith's YA fantasy/supernatural/romance series Night World was first published between 1996 and 1998. It was designed as a ten-book series. After a ten-year hiatus, the tenth and final book Strange Fate is now scheduled for publication.

The series deals with the existence of a secret society of witches, vampires, and shapeshifters, and how they interact with the inhabitants of the human world. Although humans have long since gained control of the world over the Night World's minority, the supernatural members of the society treat humans with disdain and prejudice, calling them "vermin" and plotting ways to regain power over the world.

It is fine for Night World inhabitants to treat humans in whatever way they please as long as two essential rules are upheld:

  1. Do not tell humans about the Night World.
  2. Never fall in love with a human.

What follows is a series of stand-alone yet interrelated stories that tell what happens when (wait for it...) these rules get broken. The first four or so books set the ground-work for the series as a whole, introducing characters who turn up in later books and concepts such as the Soulmate Principle and Circle Daybreak, as well as the mythos and history of the Night World. Book Six, Soulmate, introduces the onset of the apocalypse. The rest of the series deals with the measures that good and evil forces take to prepare for it.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Delos's Father (and later his Grandfather) pretty much force him to repetitively use his power (Which later starts to be damaging to his left arm and implants it into his head that he has no feelings whatsoever. He's also forced to kill his own teacher.
    • Keller's mother.
    • Morgead's mother.
  • Action Girl: Three in particular: Rashel Jordan, Jez Redfern and Raksha Keller.
  • Aerith and Bob: You have names like Eric, Thea, Gillian, Phillip, Maggie along with names like Raksha, Azhdeha, Rashel, Azarius and Autolykos.
  • The Alcoholic: Gillian's Mother.
  • Afraid of Needles: Poppy.
  • All There in the Manual: There are some extra stories on her website that show other part of characters' lives. Link.
  • Arranged Marriage: Galen and Iliana. Averted, much to Keller's relief.
    • Maeve Harman and Hunter Redfern also count.
  • The Atoner: Ash, who leaves his soulmate at the end of Daughters of Darkness to make up for what he's done in the past.
    • Also Jez Redfern, who joins Circle Daybreak after realizing that she's half-human.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Ash and Mary-Lynnette, Jez and Morgead.
  • Badass Longcoat: Quinn wears one briefly.
  • Badass Normal: Rashel Jordan
  • Battle Couple: Rashel and Quinn.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Played with. Mary-Lynnette questions whether Jane Austen and Galileo were possibly vampires.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Ash and Mary-Lynnette.
  • Berserk Button: Don't call Jez by her full name. It pisses her off so much, that when her soulmate calls her "Jezebel" as she lies dying, she actually comes back in order to tell him never to call her that.
    • Don't call Keller by her first, either.
    • Don't say anything Anti-Feminist or make any Stay in the Kitchen remarks to Mary-Lynnette, you will regret it.
  • Better as Friends: Jez and Hugh.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Maya, Sylvia, Tanya.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Quite a few.
    • Secret Vampire: ends with Poppy talking to her mother while she sleeps and gives her an happy dream, telling her "I'm okay now, Mom. You don't have to worry about me anymore." before driving off into the night with her soulmate, James.
    • Daughters of Darkness: Ash leaves to start his Redemption Quest and tells Mary-Lynnette, "Even when we're apart, we'll be looking at the same sky!" while an meteor shower takes place.
    • Dark Angel: Gillian and David watch, hand in hand, as "Angel" is finally able to pass on.
  • Bigger Bad: In Witchlight, the gang goes up against an astoundingly powerful dragon, who tells them he was woken from his slumber by "a witch who is not a witch." Whoever that is, is bound to be even more terrifying.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Redferns, starting all the way back with its founder, Maya, who drank the blood of babies to achieve immortality, turned a fellow tribesman into the first made vampire against his will, and fought her sister to the death.
    • The Harmans fare a little better, but not when they are forced to marry into the Redfern clan.
  • Blind Seer: Aradia.
  • Blood Magic: The Wild Powers. When they bleed they are able to unleash blue fire magic, the most powerful and lethal form of magic in the Night World. Up to Witchlight blue fire has been used to stop trains, destroy large groups of people, kill a dragon, and even extinguish regular fire in a house fire. And only four people in the world possess it.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: James and Poppy, to an extent. Also an Gender Flip version with Galen and Keller.
  • Burn the Witch!: Played with in Spellbinder. After accidentally releasing the vengeful spirit of a witch whose siblings were burnt at the stake, Thea and Eric reenact the burning with dummies in the attempt to draw the spirit away from the school dance.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Claire Goddard. Her brother Ricky also counts, he just doesn't look it.
  • Cain and Abel: Maya and Hellewise.
  • Care-Bear Stare: Delos, meet Maggie.
  • The Casanova: Ash before meeting Mary-Lynnette.
    • Blaise is the Female version.
    • James has a well known reputation as this but in actuality he simply feeds on the girls rather than fooling around.
  • Cassandra Truth: Claire.
  • Catch Phrase: Rashel says: "This kitten has claws" every time she kills a vampire.
    • Keller also seems to be fond of "I'm just a grunt."
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Poppy and James in Secret Vampire.
  • The Chosen One: Technically the Wild Powers are the Chosen Four: Jez Redfern, Prince Delos, Iliana Dominick and an as-yet unnamed forth power.
    • Iliana counts twice over considering she's also the Witch Child, prophesied to secure peace between the witches and the shapeshifters.
    • Also Maggie in Black Dawn who is identified among the slaves as the Deliverer, come to free them from captivity.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: because of her heritage, Jez's eyecolor is an in-between of blue and silver.
  • Continuity Cameo: L.J. Smith loves these. Ash and Thea have small roles in Secret Vampire, and the two subsequent sequels feature them as the protagonists. Ash turns up again in Dark Angel and Soulmate. Likewise, Quinn features in Daughters of Darkness and then stars in The Chosen, Aradia is in Spellbinder and then Black Dawn, Hunter and Lily Redfern are introduced in The Chosen: the former reappears in Black Dawn and the latter in Huntress, and all the soulmates introduced up to that point appear in Soulmate.
    • Timmy is implied to be at Thierry's Summer Solstice party in Secret Vampire.
  • Coolest Club Ever: The Black Iris Club. Well, the ones that aren't hurting humans.
  • Covers Always Spoil: The original book covers' back blurbs pretty much spoiled what the book's plotline was, the outcome and who was whose soulmate.
  • Cool Shades: James sports a pair.
  • Curse That Cures: One of the books is about a girl with cancer whose vampire boyfriend offers to turn her to save her life.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Rashel Jordan fits this trope perfectly. After her mother and brother are killed by Hunter Redfern she becomes a cynical, driven, Jerk with a Heart of Gold vampire hunter.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: On top of being extremely negligent, James's parents responded to him growing fond of his human nanny by, essentially, forcing him to kill her. When he was four.
  • Dead Pan Snarker: Quite a few characters, almost always vampires: Ash, Quinn, Kestrel, Morgead and Nissa.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Rashel, to an extent. Keller.
    • Quinn and Delos are the Male versions.
  • Determinator: Maggie Neely. There's a reason she's called "Steely Neely".
    • Rashel also counts since she trained since she was an kid to avenge her mom.
  • Dhampyr: Jez Redfern
  • Disappeared Dad: Hannah's father was said to have died years ago.
  • The Ditz: Daphne Childs.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Ash, after coming to terms with his feelings for Mary-Lynnette.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: Averted. Poppy is the only one who can call James, "Jamie".
    • Keller, on the other hand, does not like to be called by her first name.
  • The Dragon: Lily Redfern, the Dragon to her father Hunter.
    • In Book 9, a literal Dragon, who served some as-yet unknown mastermind.
  • The Dreaded: Quinn at the beginning of the series. Because of his reputation for being cold-blooded and an emotionless, he was feared by vampire and human alike. Ash is uncomfortable by him in Daughters of Darkness, and even the fact that Quinn came with Ash to find Ash's sisters scares all three girls.
  • Evil Redhead: Hunter Redfern.
  • Expy: Numerous characters are very similar to characters from other past L.J. Smith works. For instance:
    • Quinn and Thierry have shades of Stefan In which they: Had traumatic Vampire transformations, Lost their loves and spent the rest of their lives brooding or self-loathing themselves.
    • Ash is an mix of Damon and Julian.
    • Keller, Nissa and Winnie are pretty much Elena, Meredith and Bonnie.
    • Maya is (arguably) Katherine, but less crazy.
    • Thea and Blaise are reminiscent of another pair of Witch cousins.
      • Double goes for Maya and Hellewise.
    • Keller was likely based on Rashel.
  • Eyes of Gold: Delos and Lily. Most likely inherited from Maya.
  • Fantastic Racism: Surfaces briefly in Witchlight. When the Crone of the witches, Grandma Harman is murdered by shapeshifters, witch and all-around nice girl Winnie goes off on a tirade against shapeshifters in general and basically condemns shapeshifters Keller and Galen as though they had a hand in the crime. But Illiana quickly puts her in her place and Winnie apologizes for her behavior.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Vermin", "Leeches" and "Puppies."
  • Femme Fatale: Blaise.
  • Fiery Redhead: Jez, Jeanne.
  • Filler: Dark Angel. Though it features a cameo from Ash, it's the one book in the series that can be skipped without doing much damage to one's understanding of the over-arching story.
    • Though it does better explain the Lost Harman babies back story
  • Flower Motifs: Flowers are used to symbolize the different species of Night World and are commonly wore as pins or rings, for instance:
    • Born Vampires' (Lamia) symbol is an Black Iris.
    • Made Vampires' symbol is an Black Rose.
    • Witches' symbol is an Black Delilah.
    • Lost Witches' symbol is an Black Violet.
    • Werewolves' symbol is an Black Foxglove.
    • Shapeshifters' symbol is an Black Lily.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Maggie and Miles.
  • Foreshadowing: Galen's eyes are described as an leopard's.
  • Happily Married: Mr and Mrs. Goddard, Mr and Mrs. Neely.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Mother, maiden and crone are shown as witches' ranks. The mother of all witches is Hecate.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Lily wanted the Wild Power, she got it.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: In Huntress:
    Morgead: “DON'T YOU DARE DIE ON ME, JEZEBEL! DON'T YOU DARE! Or I'll follow you to the next world and KILL you.”
  • The Hunter
  • Hyper Awareness: Maggie in Black Dawn, upon discovering a hole in Sylvia's story claiming that Maggie's brother Miles had died in a hiking accident from not securing his equipment properly—when Miles had in fact had always put safety first when hiking, she quickly notices that the "hysterical" Sylvia isn't actually crying, and she spends the whole time explaining the tragedy staring at Maggie's mismatched socks.
    • Jez in Huntress realized that Iona was going to throw herself off the roof during the Wild Power test, when none of the others expected an eight-year-old to do it.
  • I Am Spartacus: Morgead, Hugo, and Claire invoke this in Huntress after they get kidnapped with Jez by Lily Redfern after she demands to know which of the four of them is the Wild Power. This also serves as an inversion of the troupe as well, as none of them do know who the Wild Power is and are just trying to buy some time. Unfortunately the stunt ends up annoying Lily who stakes Jez after a suggestion by Pierce in order to force the Wild Power to emerge and save Jez's life. However, since the blue fire is Blood Magic, Jez's mortal wound causes her to unleash the blue fire herself and she is revealed to be the Wild Power.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal / Refusal of the Call: Iliana.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Implied with Delos and Maggie.
    Maggie: "You can kill me. But that's all you can do. I told you, you can't control me. And you can't change what's between us."
  • Info Dump: Jez and Hugo partake in a bit of this in Huntress where they go over essentially the entirety of human history, and the different time periods in which humans, werewolves, witches, and vampires were in total control before each world "ended" via natural disaster, for seemingly no other reason than to inform the reader exactly why everybody in the Night World is looking for the Wild Powers. And so Claire can hear the whole thing.
  • The Ingenue: Invoked when Winnie explains that Iliana is "Too pure for this stuff," not a coward. Not to mention Iliana's silver-gold hair, violet eyes, 'glow,' and the fact that a small character is described as almost as small as she is.
  • In the Blood: There are three royal families at work in the series, pertaining to the three major Night World species: the Redferns (vampires), the Harmans (witches) and the Draches (shapeshifters), all with particular gifts that elevate them from the rest of their kind.
  • Just a Kid: Subverted and used: People fighting vampires remind themselves that the vampires are not really kids, and should be treated as a threat. Used in that even a child vampire has the potential to be very dangerous, so this mantra does not make very much sense.
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: Maya, Ash.
  • Karma Houdini: Blaise. She mind-rapes (and probably sexually rapes) human boys with her love potions to get gifts and popularity and we even meet one particular boy that she has completely destroyed. Her punishment? Not a damn thing. Instead, we're supposed to like her at the end of the story!
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Rashel's weapon of choice. As she is a vampire hunter, it is of course wooden.
  • Kill It with Fire: Witches are harmed by iron and fire, werewolves and shapeshifters are harmed by silver and fire, vampires are harmed by wood and fire, humans are harmed by the normal assortment (so, fire). Fire: the only thing where you can be sure, regardless of the type.
    • In The Chosen, Nyala attempts this with an Molotov cocktail to kill all the vampires in the house having the bloodfeast.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: When the victim is willing or in a trance.
  • Last Name Basis: John Quinn, Raksha Keller
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Technically Poppy isn't a child, but she's described as "petite" and "pixie-like," and everyone is suitably devastated when she's diagnosed with cancer. Luckily she's also got a vampire for a best friend, which comes in handy if you're terminally ill.
  • The Load: Iliana, for most of Witchlight.
  • Long Lost Sibling: According to Word of God, Rashel and Keller are twins Separated at Birth.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Keller's motto.
  • Love Potion: Used in Spellbinder after Thea accidentally challenges Blaise.
  • Love Triangle: Type 8. Yes, Soulmate Principle is in effect.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Jade. On meeting her Mark thinks: "Okay, so she is crazy. I don't care. I think I love her."
    • Poppy. Just Poppy.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Quinn and Rashel. She's 17, he was born in the 1600s.
    • Thierry and Hannah, sort of. Technically they were born at around the same time, but he's immortal and she's been reincarnated many times and at the time of Soulmate, is 16.
  • Meaningful Name: Galen means "Calm", Gavin Means "Hawk"
  • Missing Mom: Mary-Lynnette and Mark's mom died when Mark was still young.
  • The Mole: Pierce in Huntress and Jaime, who is actually The Dragon in disguise in Witchlight.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Phillip think this to James about Poppy.
  • Never Trust a Title: Daughters of Darkness give off the idea that the focus is on Ash's sisters when actually it's about Ash and Mary-Lynnette's relationship development along with an murder mystery.
  • Non-Action Guy: Hugh. He does his best though, bless him.
    • Galen At first.
  • Not So Different: Rashel and Quinn in The Chosen. Both have spent most of their lives hating a different species because of personal tragedy— Rashel hated vampires because a vampire killed her mother, and Quinn hated humans because his human father killed his fiancee—and in turn have killed quite a few people from the side they hate, all the while justifying their actions because of the aforementioned tragedies experienced. Though when they realize this they decide to put aside their hatred once and for all.
    • Hannah sees herself and Thierry as this with another Soulmated couple (Ash and Mary-Lynnette) after talking to Ash and seeing how much he truly wants to make it up to his Soulmate...Just like Thierry.
  • Oblivious to Love: In Huntress Morgead had always loved Jez, even though they were intense rivals and their relationship was mostly Snark-to-Snark Combat. Jez however had believed Morgead saw her as a threat and always expect him to try and kill her when the opportunity arose.
  • Older Than They Look / Really 700 Years Old: Maya, Thierry, Quinn, Hunter Redfern, Thistle, Timmy.
    • Gillian of Dark Angel is seventeen years old but her petite frame and short stature (less than five feet tall) make her look like a little kid.
  • Opposites Attract: Ash and Mary-Lynnette, Maggie and Delos, Galen and Keller,
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: In this continuity, ghouls are humans that did not successfully complete the transition into vampirehood, leaving them nearly brain-dead, difficult to kill, and with an insatiable bloodthirstiness. They're also really, really gross.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: As with Twilight the only aspects of vampirism retained from folklore is their need for human blood, and their immortality. Unlike Twilight the condition is not glamorized, and is considered a somewhat lonely, melancholy state of existence.
    • There are two types of vampires at work in the world: those known as the lamia, who are born to the condition, are able to procreate, and can control their aging process, and made vampires, who are (obviously) humans who have been turned. All made vampires are also teenagers, because the stress of conversion can only be handled by people under the age of twenty. Attempts of conversion on someone twenty years old and over causes their bodies to "burn out".
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They have powers that allow them to track people by something that appears to amount to psychic scent. They also can transform into a variety of animals, and, though it is never outright stated, look like they pick up some characteristics of their animal.
    • There is some confusion over the difference between "werewolves" and "shapeshifters" in the series. Shapeshifters can seemingly change at will, whereas werewolves are bound by lunear cycles. Likewise, werewolves are prone to more prejudice within the Night World, whereas the shapeshifters of Witchlight (book 9) seem fairly respected.
      • Werewolves aren't bound by lunar cycles in he series, Jeremy Lovett changed at will and Mary-Lynnette even mentally commented on the fact that it wasn't a full moon.
  • Parental Abandonment: Whoo, Boy...
    • Morgead: was neglected by his mother who kept leaving him to fool around with other men until she finally left altogether. Doubles as Freudian Excuse when Jez later leaves the gang. You really feel for the poor guy.
    • Keller: Because of the fact that she couldn't control her shifting (especially when she was frighten) her mother left her in an cardboard box like someone would for kittens and puppies, Stuck in her half and half form with an note basically saying that she will always be alone.
    • Jez's parents were killed by Night Worlders when it was discovered that they fell in love, married and later had Jez.
    • Thea and Blaise's parents.
  • Prophecy Twist: In her capacity as the Witch Child, Iliana is told that she is destined to secure an alliance between shapeshifters and witches by marrying the crown prince of the royal shapeshifter house. Instead she declares herself blood sister to werepanther Keller.
  • Red Herring: Ash is widely believed to be the one that murdered his aunt but it's actually Jeremy.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Poor, Poor Sylvia.
  • Red String of Fate: Or in this case, a silver thread. Destined soulmates describe this thread as the energy that connects them and pulls them together.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Hannah and Thierry. Several times over. Also implied with Ash and Mary-Lynnette, though post-story.
  • Reincarnation: Known as "Old Souls" among the Night World; individuals who are reincarnated are reasonably common in the series, most prominently Hannah Snow, protagonist of Soulmate. Others include Catherine (who doesn't know she's an Old Soul), Hugh (who does), and Iona (a child who is said to be the oldest reincarnated being on earth, an impressive claim since Hannah dates back to prehistoric times).
    • So far all Old Souls have been human, and it has been explicitly stated that it's impossible for a vampire to be reincarnated.
    • They're said to regain memories of their past lives in times of stress or danger, after which they are referred to as "awakened" Old Souls.
  • Romantic False Lead: Jeremy and Mary-Lynnette, Jez and Hugh
  • Romantic Vampire Boy
  • Sarcastic Confession: One of Quinn's tactics.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Delos, who has been raised in a kingdom cut off from the human world, and with very little idea of what's going on in the outside world (or in his own kingdom, judging from his reaction to Jeanne's scars).
  • Shrinking Violet: Gillian.
  • Shout-Out: In Secret Vampire, Poppy describes her mother as looking like an Alfred Hitchcock Heroine and James like James Dean. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz is also referenced.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Ash and Mary-Lynette. Complete with literal slapping.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: All the couples to some extent, considering they're all breaking the No. 2 rule of Night World society, but Rashel and Quinn get special mention: he's a vampire, she's a vampire hunter (and yes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is referenced by another character).
  • Theme Naming: It is traditional for lamia to be named after natural things (birds, plants or precious stones); ie. Rowan, Kestrel, Jade, Garnet, Lily, Dove, Hunter (all of whom belong to the Redfern clan). There is also the tradition of any werecreature being named after whatever animal s/he happens to be able to change into in his/her native language.
  • Title Drop: Black Dawn is the name of the castle in the Dark Kingdom.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Gillian in Dark Angel. Would you go investigate a strange noise, in a forest, by yourself, in the middle of winter? By yourself? Somewhat subverted in that she does actually die from this stupidity...
  • Tsundere: Mary-Lynnette in Daughters of Darkness, deredere.
  • The Unfettered: This is a pretty good definition of what Rashel appears to mean by zanshin.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Thea in Spellbinder, while sending back the spirit she unintentionally summoned.
    Thea: By the power of Earth and Air and Water! By the power of Fire on this night of Hecate! By my own power as a daughter of Hellewise! Go speedily, conveniently and without delay, you bitch.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: If the victim is not willing and aware.
  • Vampire Hunter: Rashel.
    • Jez counts as well.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Poppy eventually manages to win over James, her friend-since-preschool
  • Was It All a Lie?: Poppy, upon Phil's fight with James.
  • We Are Everywhere: They are, as James points out.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Lancers of The Chosen.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After The Chosen, Timmy is never mentioned again.
    • Blaise's fate after Spellbinder is still unknown and she hasn't been mentioned since except for Witchlight which just rules her out as an Wild Power.
  • Witch Species: Way back in the beginning of the world there was a 'blessed tribe' and now they're a race.
  • Woman Scorned: A significant part of Maya's motivation.
    • Murder the Hypotenuse: What Maya has essentially done to Hannah since prehistory, and has further poisoned Thierry's relationship with her by manipulating Hannah into thinking Thierry killed her all those times. He only killed her once, which was pure accidental, but the rest of her deaths were caused by Maya.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Rashel's katana cuts through a vampire like "razor-sharp steel" through a human.
    • Jez also has an bamboo knife.
  • You Already Changed the Past: In Black Dawn Prince Delos goes back in time to warn Maggie to leave the Dark Kingdom. However, when Maggie sees Delos in present-time, the fact that she recognises him from her dream ensures her determination to learn more about him, and events proceed as they originally did. Interesting, as she tells him about the dream, so he is aware that he already changed the past.
    "I know," [Delos] said, and his voice was tired and a bit forlorn. He sounded very young, just then. "But it was worth a try."