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Literature / Night World

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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.

In order, the books are:

Short Stories:

  • Jez and Morgead's Night Out (set before Huntress)
  • Thicker Than Water (set after Witchlight)
  • Ash and Mary-Lynette: Those Who Favor Fire (set after Witchlight)
  • Brionwy's Lullaby (set well after the series in a Bad Future)

This series provides examples of:

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    # - G 
  • The '90s: The series was first published in the 1990's and is presumably set then, with the upcoming millennium being a plot point in later books and references to 90's pop culture. Some later additions of the books tried to update the setting by switching out words like "Walkman" for "iPod", but the majority of fans accept The 90's as the series' setting (including on the wiki) and most editions stick with this.
  • Abusive Parents: A few examples:
    • Delos's father (and later his great grandfather) pretty much forces 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 (or possibly her father - she never really knew which of them it was and assumes it was her mother), who abandoned her as a a cardboard box in the street.
    • Morgead's mother, who was neglectful at best before doing a runner.
  • Aerith and Bob: You have names like Eric, Thea, Gillian, Phillip and Maggie along with names like Raksha, Azhdeha, Rashel, Azarius and Autolykos.
  • Aim for the Horn: Dragons can be weakened by damaging or removing their horns; when fighting Azhdeha in Witchlight the protagonists aim for his horns to weaken him enough to kill him.
  • All There in the Manual: There are some extra stories on Smith's website that show other part of characters' lives. Link.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Played with. Mary-Lynnette questions whether Jane Austen and Galileo were possibly vampires.
  • Big Fancy House: A few appear, most notably Thierry's luxurious mansion in Las Vegas and the old mansion on the island enclave. They're mostly owned by vampires.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Quite a few.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Broken Pedestal: Two examples in The Chosen. Nyala hero-worships Rashel so when she lets Quinn go and later falls in love with him, she is bitterly disappointed (which doesn't help her already shaky sanity). Later, Quinn gets this towards his maker and adoptive father Hunter Redfern. Quinn had a love-hate relationship with him, as it was, but still respected him and believed him to be a man of honor. It's a blow when he discovers Hunter broke his own rules and was behind the blood feast all along.
  • The Chosen One:
    • Technically the Wild Powers are the Chosen Four: Jez Redfern, Prince Delos, Iliana Dominick and an as-yet unnamed fourth power. According to Word of God, it's Kierlan Drache, a main character in the as-yet-unreleased Strange Fate.
    • 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.
  • The Clan: The Harmans and the Redferns, and to a lesser extent, the Draches (who are known as the First House of the Shapeshifters).
  • 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 before being featured more prominently in The Chosen.
  • 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 vs. Awesome: Witchlight has a Badass Crew consisting of two witches, a werepanther, a were leopard and a vampire vs a dragon.
  • Council of Vampires: Vampires have an Elder Council, who also make up part of the Joint Night World Council, who are responsible for making sure vampires uphold The Masquerade and dishing out punishments when they don't.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Night World includes a few rather nasty deaths.
    • Mrs Burdock's husband Hodge was repeatedly impaled with dozens of wooden stakes until he finally died.
    • Although he deserved it, Jeremy gets stabbed with a silver knife and then burns to death in a flaming truck. It's not clear what killed him first, the stab wound or the fire.
    • Suzanne Blanchet was tortured into confessing to witchcraft and then sentenced to be burnt at the stake. But first she had to watch her younger siblings be tortured and burned as well. They were supposed to be strangled before being burnt as an act of mercy, but the executioner wasn't paid enough so they were burned alive. Did we mention they were only ten and six years old?
    • Although she comes back to life, we get a very detailed account of Gillian dying of hypothermia.
    • Gary accidentally burned to death a little girl using a fire elemental spell. It's indicated she died instantly, but it's still not a good way to go and Gary was utterly horrified. He got wasted to try and cope, then proceeded to drive drunk and wrap his car around a tree, sustaining fatal injuries, which isn't a good way to go either.
    • Nyala mentions that her sister died a slow and painful death from blood loss after being attacked by a vampire. She lived long enough to tell Nyala how much it hurt before finally succumbing. It's not surprising Nyala’s not too mentally stable after witnessing that.
    • The girls being kidnapped by a vampire slave ring have grisly fates awaiting them they're for a Blood Feast, where they'll all be served up as three-course meals for a group of vampires, draining dry one girl after another. Some of these girls are as young as twelve.
    • Thierry had his throat torn out and his blood consumed by Maya, who then forced him to drink her blood before he finally died...then he woke up as a vampire. In his own grave.
    • Hannah's suffered some unpleasant deaths (which happens repeatedly on account of her reincarnating), including exsanguination and having her throat ripped out.
    • Sylvia is impaled with a lance and takes several minutes to die. A vampire character offers to try and turn her to save her, but she doesn't think it'll work because there are splinters of wood stuck inside/next to her vital organs (wood is poisonous to vampires).
    • Grandma Harman is mauled to death by feline shapeshifters, though we only hear about it after the fact, fortunately.
  • Darker and Edgier: While all the books have horror themes, the short story Brionwy's Lullaby kicks it up several notches. It's set in a potential future where Circle Daybreak and the Wild Powers were defeated, and the Night World took over the world and enslaved humans, while killing any Night People who resisted. It can be inferred that every protagonist and their allies are dead (or in hiding). The main character is a teenage girl who is all but stated to be a Sex Slave and lives in constant fear, it features a plotline where a fellow slave girl has gone half-mad over the supposed death of her baby and it ends on a seriously bleak note: Brionwy pleads with her vampire master to spare another slave girl, only for him to take an interest in Brionwy, with all that insinuates.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Although direct sunlight weakens a vampire's powers, especially if they haven't fed in some time, it won't be automatically fatal and they can usually walk about during daylight with few problems; James Rasmussen lived amongst humans and attended public school in California for seventeen years and no one noticed anything different about him.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Much of the Night World and even a few protagonists prior to Character Development (such as Ash, Jez and Delos) believe it's fine to treat humans however they want – including enslaving, physically/psychologically torturing and killing them – because Night People are seen as the superior species; some also see it as just because humans persecuted and killed many Night People during the Burning Times. The narrative takes the stance that this is just plain old Fantastic Racism and the majority of the protagonists strive to change their society's views.
  • Delicate and Sickly: In Secret Vampire, teenager Poppy North is fine one minute, the next she's been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer which will be extremely painful and debilitating, she only has three months to live, tops, and there is nothing her parents can do about it.
  • The Dragon: Lily Redfern, the Dragon to her father Hunter.
    • In Book 9, a literal Dragon, who served some as-yet unknown mastermind.
  • Driving Question: Some of the novels with a central mystery have these. Notably:
    • Daughters of Darkness: Who killed Opal Burdock?
    • Dark Angel: Who exactly is Angel and what does he want?
    • The Chosen: Why are the girls being kidnapped and who is the mastermind? And to a lesser extent, who killed Rashel's family and Timmy?
    • Soulmate: What happened in Hannah's past lives?
    • Huntress: Who and where is the Wild Power?
    • Black Dawn: Is Maggie's brother still alive?
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Many examples, most notably Hannah and Thierry, who went through centuries of suffering before finally getting a Happily Ever After.
  • Either/Or Offspring: The offspring of a witch/lamia pairing will always be either a witch or lamia (a possible exception being Mal Harman, who's described in expanded material as a "vampire-witch hybrid"). For example, three of Maeve and Hunter's daughters - Garnet, Lily and Dove - were born fully lamia, while one daughter - Roseclear - was born a full witch, and neither display traits associated with the other species. The same possibly applies to werewolf/human offspring and shapeshifter/human offspring. The only known vampire/human offspring (Jez Redfern) is initially thought to be a case of this, but is actually a true hybrid.
  • Either/Or Prophecy: The Wild Power prophecies specify "Four less one and darkness triumphs", which is widely taken to mean that unless all four Wild Powers are working together to stop the Night World from taking over, then humankind and Night People who support them are stuffed.
  • Everyone Is Related: Many characters in the series belong to or are related in some way to the Redfern or Harman families. They're actually related to each other too; due to the blood-tie between Maeve Harman and Hunter Redfern, moderns Harmans and Redferns consider each other as 'cross-kin' or 'distant cousins'. They're biologically related as well; most modern Redferns are descended from Garnet Redfern (a notable exception being the Redferns of the Dark Kingdom), whilst most modern Harmans are descended from Roseclear Harman, both of whom are the daughters of Hunter and Maeve. Furthermore, both families share a common ancestor in Hecate Witch-Queen; her daughter Hellewise is the founder of the Harman family, whilst her grandson Red Fern (through her other daughter, Maya) is the founder of the Redfern family. Many of the most prominent lamia families are also implied to be related in one way or another due to them often intermarrying.
  • 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.
      • This is justified because it's revealed that Keller and Rashel are twin sisters.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Some of the books take place over only a few very eventful days. The Chosen is especially notable: with the exception of the first few chapters taking place during Rashel's childhood (which themselves take place over a single day) and the twelve-year Time Skip, the novel takes place over about three days, during which Rashel infiltrates a vampire slave ring, meets her soulmate, faces off with her vampire archnemesis and ultimately decides to give up vengeance, her soulmate has a Heel–Face Turn and they both decide to join Circle Daybreak.
  • 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.
    • This actually comes up quite a bit, with other races looking down shapeshifters and werewolves and treating them as 'second class citizens', werewolves having no representation on the Council, and the human genocide against Night People, in particular witches, in the Renaissance.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Vermin" (for humans), "Leeches" (for vampires) and "Puppies" (for werewolves).
  • Feminist Fantasy: Despite appearing to be just another Paranormal Romance series on the surface, Night World still manages to be this. All nine books (and the unreleased tenth book too) have female protagonists and all of them generally manage to be intelligent, strong-minded, proactive and heroic in their own way, with some of them being straight-up Action Girls. And this isn't even counting all the secondary or supporting female characters. Many of the girls successfully protect themselves or rescue their male love interests, even when he's a supernatural being and she’s 'just' a human. Although romance is always central to the plots, the female protagonists are also not defined solely by their romantic relationships, usually having goals and interests outside this too. Witches are explicitly matriarchal and matrilineal while not looking down on men, and are generally portrayed as being more reasonable and sympathetic than other factions of Night People – the explicitly patriarchal and outright misogynistic Redferns come across as a lot more villainous. Women are also responsible for or directly involved in many of the major events of the series, including the war with the dragons, the creation of the vampire species, the alliance that formed the basis of the Night World and the reformation of Circle Daybreak among many others. Some of the books also touch on themes of female empowerment and inequality (mostly Daughters of Darkness, Spellbinder and Dark Angel); The Chosen also stands out due to revolving around a female vampire hunter who almost single-handedly takes on a vampire slave ring targeting vulnerable young girls, with the assistance of an escaped victim who turns her victimisation on its head to fool the slavers and help the other girls (the vampire hunter's love interest is also attracted to her partly because of her strength and combat prowess).
  • Fiery Redhead: Jez, Jeanne and Winnie. Poppy gets moments too, though she's usually more hyper than aggressive.
  • Five-Man Band: Keller’s team in Witchlight.
  • Floral Theme Naming: It's common for lamia to have names associated with nature, such as flowers, trees and other plants. This includes the surnames of Redfern and Blackthorn, and the first names of Lily, Alder, Rowan, Ash, Madder, Tormentil and Chervil.
  • 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 a Black Rose.
    • Witches' symbol is a Black Dahlia.
    • Lost Witches' symbol is a Black Violet.
    • Werewolves' symbol is a Black Foxglove.
    • Shapeshifters' symbol is a Black Lily.
    • Poppy has a dream in Secret Vampire during which she's given a black poppy. It foreshadows that she was never really human in the first place.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Galen's eyes are described as an leopard's.
    • Jez is present at or witnesses all the instances where blue fire is used.
    • It's not clear if it's intentional, but at the end of Daughters of Darkness, Ash jokingly comments that he'll fight dragons for Mary-Lynette, which literally happens in later books.
    • The Wild Power prophecies foreshadow the identities of the Wild Powers:
      • One from the Day World where two eyes are watching foreshadows it will be a hybrid; Jez Redfern is a vampire-human hybrid.
      • One from the land of kings long forgotten foreshadows Delos Redfern, who is prince of the secret Dark Kingdom.
      • One from the hearth which still holds the spark: foreshadows Iliana Dominick, a lost Harman witch.
    • Hannah has nightmares and subconsciously writes herself notes about the upcoming apocalypse.
    • There's a good reason why Rashel is called "kitten" or "the Cat" and described as being cat-like...she's the long lost twin sister of panther shapeshifter Keller.
  • Good Witch Versus Bad Witch:
    • In Spellbinder, Thea (the good witch) is fighting with Blaise (the bad witch) for Eric. Played with in that Blaise is more of an Anti-Hero than truly evil and Thea actually breaks several witch laws opposing her. A straighter example would Thea vs the real Big Bad: a vengeful witch spirit named Suzanne she accidentally released.
    • In the past, good witch Hellewise vs her evil twin sister Maya (who was also the first vampire).
    • In Black Dawn, Aradia vs Sylvia until the latter's Heel–Face Turn.

     H - Y 
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: If the hybrid's half human, the typical response from the Night World is to kill the "freak" and its parents. The only exception is lost witches, as they don't realise they are Night People, though even they get looked down upon sometimes: in Black Dawn, Sylvia resents the fact that "half human" witches get welcomed into the Harman family because they're descended through the female line, whilst she, a 'pure' witch, is shut out.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Witches' ranks are described as a mother, a maiden, or a crone, depending on their age. The absolute heads of the witches are also split up into this, with each being described as the head of their third of the group. During the events of the series, the current holders of these titles fit this trope well. The Maiden is Aradia, a beautiful and gentle young woman who is named after a woodland goddess. The Mother is Cybele, described as a plump middle-aged woman who can be stern yet compassionate, who is named after a mother goddess. The Crone is Edgith, often called Grandma Harman, who is a direct descendant of Hecate, is close to a hundred years old and whose frail appearance belies her toughness; she can be crotchety and blunt, but is also wise and just.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Dark Kingdom, a Night People-controlled valley hidden in the Cascades using spells.
  • Hollywood Board Games: Playing Tic-Tac-Toe on someone's skin is usually a harmless prank. Using red-hot blades instead of markers turns into the kind of Cold-Blooded Torture the vampire slave ring would inflict on a girl who's been caught trying to escape.
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • Hybrid All Along: Jez Redfern learns she's actually half-vampire, half-human early in Huntress, when an interaction with a human gang leader triggers her repressed childhood memories of the night her parents were allegedly killed by vampire hunters. She confronts her uncle and he confirms her suspicions, also explaining her parents were killed by vampires and he raised her to believe she was a full vampire to protect her. Jez is deeply affected by this, especially as she spent most of her life hating humans and has killed many of them. She gives up drinking blood and seeks out her estranged human family, hoping to atone for her past actions.
  • 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.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Justified. Lamia (those born as vampires) age like humans but can consciously choose to stop physically aging at any time (they can also undo this process whenever they want, which is said to have "interesting" results if you've been holding off aging for quite some time). Ash Redfern is considering stopping aging after turning eighteen, though Quinn suggests he reconsider, saying that resembling a teenager forever isn't as great as it sounds (he's been seventeen for around three centuries). The vast majority of made vampires (humans or witches transformed into vampires) resemble teens or even children, which is because most people over twenty don't survive the transformation; their adult bodies cannot adjust and they "burn out".
  • 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.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: All kinds of Night People, though particularly vampires.
  • Interspecies Romance: Almost all the main couples are from different species (it's a major plot point throughout the series). The only main couple this doesn't apply to is Keller and Galen, as they're both shapeshifters.
  • 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 and commonly found traits (both physical and personality-wise).
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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, the experience of being bitten is actually quite pleasant.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Pretty much all vampires automatically qualify as this in a fight; they're inhumanly strong, fast, agile and also very durable – unless it's inflicted with wood or fire, they can heal from virtually any injury in minutes.
  • 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.
  • Love Potion: Blaise uses one in Spellbinder after Thea accidentally challenges her for Eric's affections (and it's implied this isn't the first time Blaise has used a love spell or charm on boys). Thea herself tries to put a love spell on Eric and a classmate named Pilar in the hopes it'll keep him safer than if he was with her. None of the spells have any affect on Eric; it's implied that the Soulmate Principle won't allow them work because Thea and Eric are destined to be together.
  • Mage Species: Way back in the beginning of the world there was a 'blessed tribe' and now they're a race. That said, witches are not biologically all that different from humans, save for the fact they can innately use magic, tend to have fewer children and are quite sensitive to iron; male witches are also much rarer than female witches. When Poppy North drinks Thea Harman's blood, she thinks to herself that her blood doesn't really taste different from a human's; witches can also easily produce offspring with humans and can be turned into vampires. Of course, some witches - especially those in Circle Midnight - tend to downplay their similarities to humans, emphasizing their perceived superiority.
  • Matriarchy: Witches are depicted as having a matriarchal society. The three highest ranking positions in their society, Maiden, Mother and Crone, are always held by women and most of the Inner Circle (the main governing body) are women. Lineage is passed down through women and witches belong to their mother's clan and take her surname. They also have a tendency to worship goddesses or 'the Goddess'. They don't really seem to look down on men though; they still worship male gods as well as female ones, male witches seem to generally have the same rights and opportunities as female witches and are allowed to become members of the Inner Circle. The matriarchy seems to also partly be out of practicality – male witches are much rarer than female witches (in the distant past, before it was outlawed, it wasn't uncommon for female witches to take human husbands as a result of the unbalanced male to female ratio amongst their species). The only time this really becomes a problem is in Black Dawn, where Sylvia Weald is deeply unhappy about not being considered a Harman because she's not descended from the female line (whilst her distant cousins, who have human fathers, are still accepted despite not being 'pure' witches because their mothers are descended from the female line).
  • Meaningful Name: Lots of characters have names with important or symbolic meanings pertaining to them, be they humans or Night People. The latter in particular have traditions around naming; see Theme Naming.
  • Metaplot: The first six books all follow independent stories that are not direct continuations of each other, but are set in the same world and feature recurring characters and plot points, all of which culminates in the overarching plot of the series – Circle Daybreak attempting to stop the Night World from enslaving humans in the upcoming apocalypse. This is dealt with directly in the seventh, eighth and ninth (and presumably the tenth) books, which heavily revolve around finding and recruiting the Wild Powers. Before that, there were increasingly frequent mentions of reforming Circle Daybreak and the fact that the Soulmate Principle was causing several Night People, though particularly Redferns and Harmans, to find human soulmates, and the subsequent tension this caused within the Night World Council.
  • Mirror Character:
    • 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.
  • The Mole: Pierce in Huntress and Jaime, who is actually The Dragon in disguise in Witchlight.
  • Muggle and Magical Love Triangle:
    • Eric is loved by both Thea, a witch, and Pilar, his human classmate and co-worker. He picks Thea because she's his soulmate and he only likes Pilar as a friend; he actually calls out Thea for trying to put a love spell on him and Pilar so they'll be together, saying it's unfair to Pilar and that Thea is the one he wants.
    • Gillian has romantic feelings for both David, her human crush, and Angel, her supposed guardian angel who is actually a witch ghost. She picks David, as she realizes he is her real soulmate and that Angel isn't a good influence.
  • 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.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: In regards to the three original main witch circles, as opposed to individuals.
    • Circle Daybreak was the most peaceful and open-minded, being dedicated to harmony between humans and witches, forbidding the harming of humans and even trying to teach humans spells. Circle Daybreak officially no longer exists because of the Burning Times, although it's eventually revealed some witches (alongside other Night People) are trying to revive it.
    • Circle Midnight is the most malevolent; they most closely follow the Night World creed of seeing humans as "vermin" they can treat however they want and have few taboos about using darker magics.
    • Circle Twilight is more moderate than Midnight but not as open-minded as Daybreak; they don't encourage associating with humans and look down on them, but frown upon intentionally harming them and tend to shun dark magic.
  • No Loves Intersect: There are only two novels without any sort of Love Triangle; A) The Chosen, as Rashel and Quinn have no room in their lives for romance until they meet each other (Quinn is haunted by the memory of his former love, but she's long dead), and B) Black Dawn, as there's not really anyone else for Delos and Maggie to fall in love with, and Delos had convinced himself had no feelings for anything until Maggie came along. Secret Vampire is downplayed; it's mentioned that James has lots of girlfriends, but he's single at the start of the novel and only ever loved Poppy; Ash is attracted to Poppy, but she makes it transparently clear she only loves James (not that it stops Blaise from feeling jealous).
  • One True Love: A major plot device in the series (that is often central to the plot of every novel) is the Soulmate Principle, in which everyone is destined to have a partner who is ideal for them and makes them a better, more complete person. The connection between soulmates is so strong that some of them will be instantly attracted or drawn to each other even if this is the first time they met and making physical contact sends an electricity-like jolt between them. It's also implied that some soulmates can even reincarnate together. Every book features the main protagonist finding her soulmate, which will almost always be complicated by the fact one of them is human and the other is a Night Person, which is forbidden under Night World law. Given that a lot of Redferns and Harmans (or their relatives) start finding human soulmates, the witches speculate that this could be a sign that times are changing for both the Night World and the human world.
  • Older Than They Look / Really 700 Years Old: Very common for vampire characters, as lamia can choose to stop aging while made vampires are frozen at the age they were turned, and they're all functionally immortal.
  • 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 (or witches) 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 Werebeasts Are Different: In the series, shapeshifters 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 (although unless they're a dragon shapeshifter they have only one animal form) and pick up some characteristics of their animal. Shapeshifters can usually transform at will, though when they're young or if they're under stress they can experience Power Incontinence (as an infant Keller would get stuck between her human and panther forms).
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: There's some confusion over the exact difference between werewolves and shapeshifters, although they are treated as a separate subspecies. Werewolves are prone to more prejudice within the Night World, whereas the shapeshifters of Witchlight (book 9) seem fairly respected (shapeshifters have a royal family, where as werewolves don't even have representation on the Night World Council). Werewolves also aren't bound by lunar cycles and can change voluntarily; in Daughters of Darkness Jeremy Lovett changed at will and Mary-Lynnette even mentally commented on the fact that it wasn't a full moon, while in Soulmate Hannah is attacked by a werewolf and another comes to aid during the day.
  • Our Witches Are Different: Witches are considered a separate species from humans, albeit very similar and capable of interbreeding with them. They're born with the ability to perform magic, which is refined through training. Witches tend to live longer than humans, but also tend to have fewer children. There are far fewer male witches compared to female witches, which has resulted in witch society being largely matriarchal (and contributes to the population problems, especially as the Night World has outlawed witches from knowingly entering relationships with humans; witches who didn't realize they were witches are let off the hook). Too much iron is toxic to witches, much more so than humans. Witches can also be turned into vampires like humans. Witches who become disconnected from the Night World and don't realize their true natures are known as lost witches. Lost witches who find out about the Night World are usually welcomed as long as they keep the rules, although some of these witches have so little magical power they never find out about the Night World or are treated as humans who merely have a bit of witch ancestry.
  • 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.
    • Poppy and Phillip's dad (though it's implied he does love them, he's just not good with responsibility).
    • Gillian: her mother is a neglectful alcoholic and her father leaves in the middle of the night, only to return right at the end of the story.
  • Prequel: The short story Jez and Morgead's Night Out takes place prior to the events of Huntress.
  • Psychic Link: Some soulmate couples have one to each other (usually ones including a vampire, due to their ability to use Telepathy). It's hinted that all soulmates have a psychic connection, vampires just display it more strongly due to already being able to read minds.
  • Red Herring: In Daughters of Darkness Ash is widely believed to be the one that murdered his aunt but it's actually Jeremy.
  • 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: People who can reincarnate upon death are 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 'Chess' Clovis (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). 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. So far all Old Souls have been human, and it has been explicitly stated that it's impossible for a vampire to be reincarnated.
  • Ridiculously Long-lived Family Name:
    • The Harman family have kept their surname for thousands of years, dating back to the family's founder, Hellewise, in the Stone Age, though it should be noted that originally their surname was Hearth-Woman (which was originally treated more like an inherited title) and over the centuries it morphed into Harman. The family has been known as the Harmans since the 17th century at the very least. It helps that witches are matrineal, so surnames are passed from mother to daughter, and female witches are far more common than male witches. Some Harmans who became separated from witch society have different surnames due adopting patrilineal naming conventions of, though they're still considered Harmans.
    • The Redfern family named themselves after their prehistoric founder Red Fern and have retained this name up to the present day (1990s). In their case, this is a bit easier to maintain, considering they're vampires and so can potentially live for centuries. It's also explicitly stated that Hunter Redfern decreed that his daughter Garnet and her descendants would bear his surname to keep the family line going, as he officially had no male heirs (although another of his daughters, Roseclear, followed witch conventions by taking her mother Maeve Harman's surname).
  • 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).
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: All vampires are potentially dangerous to humans on account of their need for blood, but they don't have to kill to feed and their friendliness varies. The ones that vampire hunters like Rashel Jordan encounter regularly are pretty monstrous and think of humans as nothing but food or playthings, and some of the vampires are plotting to Take Over the World. On the other end, James Rasmussen is virtually indistinguishable from your average seventeen year old and aside from maybe needing some therapy due to his effed-up family, he's a good and moral person. Notably, the first vampire Maya is an unbelievably self-absorbed megalomaniac who used dark magic to make herself immortal, while the same does not apply to the second vampire, Thierry; aside from incidents in his Dark and Troubled Past (for which he feels great remorse) Thierry goes out of his way not to harm people and is compassionate and benevolent, to the point of being nicknamed Saint Thierry, and ends up as one of the series' Big Goods. Rather like humans, vampires are not inherently evil and have varying degrees of morality and virtue.
  • 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).
  • Strictly Formula: Although the details of the plots differ, the basic premise of all the books is usually the same: a human (or seemingly human) girl gets caught up in supernatural shenanigans and falls for a Night Person who turns out to be her soulmate; they angst over it because of Night World laws forbidding their love but all comes right in the end. Or alternatively, a girl who is a Night Person gets caught up in supernatural shenanigans and falls in love with a human boy who is her soulmate, and so on and so forth.
  • 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. Witches also tend to be named after deities or legendary figures.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill Muggles: The Night World Council has put a ban on killing humans in some areas – not because they give a damn about human life, but because it would be conspicuous. In other places, Night People are free to kill humans left and right so long as they're not too obvious about it. Circle Twilight (consisting of more tolerant witches) don't like humans but are generally opposed to killing them and it's mentioned that Hellewise Hearth-Woman actually created a law banning witches from harming humans. Circle Daybreak takes the latter approach, with its non-human members consisting of people who won't kill humans and believe their lives have value beyond being 'vermin'.
  • Time Skip:
    • The Chosen begins on the day of Rashel's fifth birthday and the days that followed, then skips ahead around twelve years to when she's seventeen, which is when the main story takes place.
    • Huntress skips a year ahead after Jez finds out she's a dhampyr.
  • Unequal Pairing: Crops up occasionally.
    • Thierry is a Night World Elder, addressed as Lord and has a boatload of cash to spare, whilst Hannah is a mere high school student with a roughly working class/lower middle class background. However, by Witchlight she’s also addressed by the title of Lady and is strongly implied to be co-running Circle Daybreak alongside Thierry, subverting this to an extent.
    • In Black Dawn, Prince Delos makes sure Maggie is well aware of their difference in station…at first. Maggie, for her part, doesn’t really care all that much about his title and does whatever she wants anyway.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: If the victim is not willing and aware, it's extremely painful for the person being bitten.
  • Vampire Hunter:
    • Rashel Jordan and Jez Redfern, although unlike Rashel, Jez only hunts vampires who are actively dangerous to humans while Rashel (initially) thinks they're all monsters.
    • There's also a whole group of vampire hunters known as the Lancers who show up in The Chosen.
  • Vampire Procreation Limit: Vampires can only create other vampires by repeatedly exchanging blood with a human (or witch) - they drink the human's blood, then let them drink some of their own. If they don't get the balance exactly right, then the human can just die, or turn into a ghoul. It's further established that most people older than their teens cannot physically handle the transformation and their bodies will just "burn out". The Elder Council have also placed a ban on making just any human into a vampire, partly because turning someone requires you to break cardinal law no. 1: Never tell a human about the Night World. This actually drives some of the conflict in Secret Vampire, as James turned Poppy illegally, knowing he'd never get permission because he broke cardinal law no. 2: Never fall in love with a human. Lamia vampires can procreate the old-fashioned way, but made vampires are infertile.
  • Wainscot Society: The Night World is a pretty classic example; in the 17th century, supernatural races formed an alliance and went underground, creating a secret society-within-a-society to protect themselves from humans due to persecution. Before that, so-called Night People lived openly alongside humans, but they now stringently uphold The Masquerade. Some Night People live among humans all the time, while others live in more isolated communities called enclaves (a few such enclaves are located on islands off the east coast of America), which are protected with spells so humans can't find them; the only humans there are servants (and/or food sources) kept under mind control. There are a few humans who do find out about the Night World, though they don't usually tell anyone either because they won't be believed, or they'll likely be killed by Night People as per the law. As of Witchlight, however, a Broken Masquerade is looking increasingly likely.
  • We Are Everywhere: The Night People, as James points out.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Lancers of The Chosen, especially Nyala.
  • Weredragon: In the distant past, the world was terrorised by dragon shapeshifters (who can also take the forms of other people or animals). They were defeated by the witches eventually, save for one young dragon, whom they raised among their own kind – her descendants are the Drache family, the rulers of the shapeshifter race. In Witchlight, it's revealed the Big Bad, Ahzdeha, is a dragon who has been awoken by a "witch who isn't a witch".
  • Werewolf Theme Naming: Werewolves often have either first names or last names meaning wolf or associated with wolves in various languages, including Lupe (Spanish for "wolf"), Lovett (Anglo-Saxon for "wolf cub"), Rudi (German for "famed wolf"), Ulf (Scandinavian for "wolf") and even Autolykos (Greek for "the wolf itself").
  • 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.
  • Wonderful Werewolf: Rowan Redfern (herself a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire) states that most werewolves are misunderstood or unfairly branded as savage killers, and that most are noble beings who hunt only to feed and wish to be left in peace. Although this is true of some werewolves, Rowan is perhaps overly optimistic or naive, seeing as a few werewolves in the series are shown to be bloodthirsty murderers (including the murderer of her own great aunt, who later tries to kill her brother), albeit this is due to individual moral failings rather than a species-wide issue.
  • Working-Class Werewolves: It's mentioned that werewolves are generally seen as 'second-class citizens' by the Night World; they have no representation on the Night World Council, most of the werewolves we meet in the series are employed as bouncers or Mooks and they're (unfairly) dismissed by some as being stupid and brutish.
  • Would Hurt a Child
    • Maya sacrificed her tribe's four babies and drank their blood to become the first vampire.
    • Hunter turned a four year old into a vampire and tried to kill five year old Rashel and, aside from keeping the Night World hidden, no legitimate reason is given for his actions. He also has no issue with orchestrating the kidnapping of young girls to be used in a blood feast, some of whom are as young as twelve.
  • The X of Y: The second book, Daughters of Darkness.