As you guys may be aware, I’m pretty into The Vampire Diaries. So A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls went on my Must Read list the second it was announced — and if you’re a fan of the show, it should go on yours too. The collection of essays, edited by the incomparable Red and Vee of Vampire-Diaries.net, tackles the show from every angle and isn’t afraid to take TVD to task where a writer feels it necessary.
A particular standout essay for me is Vera Nazarian‘s “You’re My Obsession” (despite the fact that it puts Sky Ferreira’s “Obsession” back in my head — that song is sticky). Vera outlines the various ways the characters are obsessed, going way beyond a vampire’s innately obsessive thirst for blood. Consider this definition: “The difference between a mere longing for something and obsession is not so much the degree of the need or its urgency, but control.” This got me thinking about Stefan and Damon, and how while my knee-jerk answer to “Which Salvatore brother is more controlled and less obsessed?” would probably be Stefan — I’m not so sure that’s the right answer. Besides getting his killing habit under control quickly, Damon’s also managing the presence of Katherine, his obsession from last season (which was preceded by 145 years of pining), quite well so far…
And that right there is what I love most about reading through the essays in A Visitor’s Guide: the thoughtfulness, the variety of ideas, the deep connection to the subject matter, the context of The Vampire Diaries in the history of vampire storytelling, and the liveliness of the writing made me — someone who thinks about this show pretty much all the time — consider it in new ways and from different perspectives.
While the essays are written about season 1 of the show, reading them now in the first part of season 2 seems to me the perfect time: you can look back on the glory of season 1 while considering how the ideas and theories in the essays remain true or change in the wake of what we’ve seen so far this year. I’d love to hear what Bree Despain thinks about Bonnie this season, or Jennifer Lynn Barnes thinks of Caroline’s transformation — especially after Kill or Be Killed. With an introduction and final essay (“A Visitor’s Guide to Fell’s Church”) written by Vee and Red, A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls captures that same smart, insightful, and humorous tone that Vampire-Diaries.net is famous for — a testament to Red and Vee’s hand in shaping this volume.
Instead of giving you a little synopsis of each essay in the book, I thought I’d pull some of the passages that gave me pause or made me think about a character, a theme, or the show as a whole:
“In Elena we see someone whose capacity for love and loyalty can encompass even a creature of the night: we believe Elena loves fiercely and irrevocably because we see her fiercely loving a great many more people than just Stefan.”
(From “Women Who Love Vampires Who Eat Women” by Sarah Rees Brennan)
“Best of all: our most significant clues about what happens next are hidden in the characters’ pasts.”
“. . . I want the show’s writers to dive into the new history of this town with even more depth and resonance than they already have. The Vampire Diaries can only get juicier if it will sink its fangs more deeply into the past.”
(From “The War Between the States” by Claudia Gray)
“It doesn’t matter how strong or invulnerable you are, if the person you love is fragile, that makes you fragile, as well.”
(From “Ladies of the Night, Unite!” by Jon Skovron)
“Stefan doesn’t really want to stop Damon because he’d rather feel guilty about the past than make difficult decisions in the present.”
“[Stefan] uses his guilt as an emotional crutch to avoid facing the reality of the present — that he is every bit the monster Damon is. Just like Dr. Frankenstein, in creating a monster and allowing it to become a murderer, Stefan is the true monster.”
(From the sure-to-be-incendiary “Don’t Be Fooled by That Noble Chin: Stefan Sucks” by Kiersten White)
“If [Damon] was willing to be a human who helped vampires hunt humans, it’s not really very surprising that he’s happy to be a vampire who helps humans hunt vampires.”
“In the world of The Vampire Diaries, love and hate are much stronger influences on a person’s actions than good and evil.”
(From “Damon Salvatore: Vampire Hunter” by Mary Borsellino)
“It’s Stefan, not Stephan.”
— Red and Vee