*Originally published October 19, 2013*
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN
By Vivian Eve
Summary: After graduation, Elena had made her choice: To be with Damon and leave everything in Mystic Falls behind her–including her feelings for Stefan. Deeply distraught, Stefan drinks himself into a depressed stupor and lives a life of what-might-have-beens. Later, an unknown supernatural entity offers him his own choice: Turn back the wheels of time and have another shot at being with Elena, or suffer with the daily reminder that she was no longer his. But there would be a catch…
Stefan makes his choice, but he has no idea the danger that’s about to be wrought upon the unsuspecting residents of Mystic Falls. Due to the time reversal, the memories of their previous lives have been wiped and the town has assumed the name of Fell’s Church. Though inexplicably drawn together, their altered destinies may cause dire ramifications throughout the world–even severing the threads of time itself.
Main Characters: Elena Gilbert, Stefan Salvatore
Secondary Characters: Caroline Forbes, Bonnie Bennett, Damon Salvatore, Katherine Pierce, Jeremy Gilbert, Alaric Saltzman
Original Characters: Troy, Mary, Sherlyn
What Could Have Been, by Vivian Eve, is a rare Stefan/Elena story, though I wouldn’t categorize it as a romance. The plot is driven by Stefan’s love for Elena but this is an action/adventure story, at best. I have to confess, I’ve had this particular novella on my Kindle since the end of August and just started reading it without revisiting the summary. Without that bit of information, I found myself confused for quite a bit of the story. In all honesty, I’m not sure if my confusion is a result of me needing to be spoon-fed when starting a new story or the author doing a poor job of setting up the story. Regardless, I decided to read the story a second time before settling in here.
The story begins with Stefan offered the opportunity to go back in time to win and keep Elena’s heart. What he doesn’t realize is that, as with all magic in the TVD world, there are stipulations attached. Basically, you don’t get something for nothing. He ends up in Fell’s Church with no memory of who he is or what he’s doing. As this is a short story, only 71 pages, it doesn’t take long for our hero to regain his memories and realize how (surprise!) badly he’s screwed up.
Many of you may not be familiar with the name Fell’s Church, but its usage is a clever addition by the author. In the Vampire Diaries’ novels the town Elena, Damon, Stefan and company live in is Fell’s Church, not Mystic Falls. The use of it in this story was a nice nod to the novels and a great way to set up the alternate timeline that Stefan finds himself in.
Anyone familiar with Alternate Timeline stories know that once you leave your timeline, you and the protagonist will find things much different from when you left. Elena and Jeremy are still orphaned, but live without knowledge of the supernatural. Damon’s around, but he’s more like our Season 1 Damon than the Damon which Stefan just left in Mystic Falls. The Mystic Grill is still the only restaurant in town, but it only has counter service. The author does a very nice job of subtly changing things within What Could Have Been for us to remember this is a TVD story.
Alternate Timeline stories also allow the author to cheat a bit because your characters can be out of character and explained away by the genre. Same goes for actions and events we find in canon. For example, new vampires transition differently in Fell’s Church. Is it a result of the timeline change or lack of knowledge on the author’s part? The readers don’t know and the author escapes this review without me screaming and kicking.
The plot stumbles throughout with many grammatical errors which, just like with my friend goldnox, makes my head hurt as I get too focused using my brain’s auto correct to keep reading. Though I can’t prove it, I suspect that the author made good use of her Thesaurus, as big, kind of out-of-place words pop up, which also interrupts the flow of the story. Conversely, when Ms. Eve allows herself to just write, her descriptions flow easily and put the reader right into the story.
There is a town full of original characters that would have served the story better as canon characters. Mystic Grill manager Mary could’ve easily been Anna or even poor Dana instead of some person we have no history with. That she chooses to use canon characters April (kill me now, please!) and the long-dead Zach Salvatore boggles the mind.
I know this is a novella, but I still found the plot rushed and completely confusing at the end, even after reading it twice. Again, it could be me, so, I encourage you to read it for yourself. Is it the best story I’ve read on Kindle Worlds? No, but it’s not the worst and I would read something by this author again. I don’t know if she wrote and edited this herself, but this story strikes me as one that would have been incredible with the help of a beta.
Favorite Part: Bonnie kicking some vampire ass.
Least Favorite Part: Tonitrus. This is the name of the nightclub featured in a few scenes. Sorry, Ms. Eve, this is the worst name in history. Unless it means something I haven’t been able to figure out. It’s probably some mythological name that explains the story or something and now I just look like an uneducated fool. Oh well, I still think it’s a stupid name.