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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street,  East Providence, RI 02914

Last Update 9/15/18

Portal Through Time by Alice Henderson, Simon Spotlight, 2006   

Time traveling vampires want to disrupt the lineage of the Slayers so that Buffy will not be around to confront and defeat the Master. Giles figures out what’s going on so Buffy and the gang have to follow them and thwart their efforts. This might have been an interesting novel if treated seriously, but Henderson plays it for laughs, with mixed results. They are captured by druids, battle a god in ancient Sumeria, and get caught in the middle of a battle during the American Civil War. In each case, they prevent the assassination of the contemporary Slayer. They inadvertently bring about a future in which the Master wins because Angelus is dead, but they reverse their mistake in a very unconvincing ending. 9/15/18

The Wisdom of War by Christopher Golden, Simon Pulse, 2002 

There are Lovecraftian themes in this very long Buffy adventure. The Moruach are an ancient race of being resembling sea serpents who are descended from the Old Ones. They have started to appear in Sunnydale, as has another species of tentacled reptiles who come into existence through the transformation of a human being. This seems to be a contagious effect. The Moruach feed on the new creatures and the Watchers Council sends people to deal with the situation, setting off a fresh round of tension with Buffy and Giles. There is a rival group similar to the Watchers, and a rogue element within the Watchers as well. And a gigantic sea monster shows up for the finale. One of the best of the tie-ins to the series. 8/12/18

The Xander Years Volume 1 by Keith R.A. DeCandido, Pocket, 1999 

The Xander Years Volume 2 by Jeff Mariotte, Simon Pulse, 2000 

Six episodes from the first two seasons of the television show. Xander escapes the clutches of a giant praying mantis and a life sucking mummy in the first two, then becomes the subject of a love potion that turns everyone except Cordelia into a murderously obsessed admirer. He is then infected with the spirit of a werehyena and joins a swim team that is being turned into mermen by performance enhancing drugs. In the final episode he saves the world from an undead bomber, but no one else has any idea what has happened. 9/10/18

Flight or Fright edited by Stephen King and Bev Vincent, CD, 2018, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-58767-679-6

When I heard the theme of this anthology - horror stories involving air travel - I immediately thought of Richard Matheson's "Nightmate at 40,000 Feet," and sure enough it's there. I did not think of John Varley's "Air Raid," which is SF rather than horror, but it's here as well. This is a compilation of seventeen previously published stories that examine the proposition from a variety of viewpoints, plot elements, and prose styles, including work by Ray Bradbury, Ambrose Bierce, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as stories by relative newcomers like Cory Goodfellow and Joe Hill. The range of idea is pleasantly diverse and even the E.C. Tubb story rises above his usually unremarkable writing. One of the more consistently rewarding collections you're likely to read. 9/8/18

The Willow Files Volume 1 by Yvonne Navarro, Simon Pulse, 2001

The Willow Files Volume 2 by Yvonne Navarro, Simon Pulse, 2001

Each of these two books contains adaptations of three episodes from the television series. These include the episode in which we first discover that Oz is a werewolf, Willow’s first significant use of magical powers, and one of the best of the series, “Doppelgangland,” in which Willow unwillingly changes places with Vampire Willow from an alternate reality, causing considerable problems for both of her selves. The adaptations are readable, of course, but add very little to the original stories. Willow was my favorite character from the series so it nice to revisit them.  9/6/18

Jack’s Magic Beans by Brian Keene, Deadite, 2011   

This is a very short collection of short stories, dominated by the title novelette. In that one, everyone in the world who is not on Prozac becomes a murderous loon. A handful of survivors are briefly trapped in a grocery store and emerge into the aftermath. The story just stops there, as though it might be a fragment of a novel. Although I normally like Keene’s work, that and three of the four stories that follow struck me as very minor. “Without You” has some effective imagery and a stronger plot than the others but is quite short. 9/6/18

The Angel Chronicles Volume 2 by Richie Tankersley, Pocket, 1999  

The Angel Chronicles Volume 3 by Nancy Holder, Pocket, 1999 

Adaptations of six episodes from Buffy. “Halloween” is one of my favorites – Halloween costumes turn people into what they are dressed as. There is a two part story in which Spike manages to restore Drusilla’s strength, Kendra the Vampire Slayer appears, and a group of supernatural assassins target Buffy. “Surprise” is the episode in which Buffy and Angel make love, turning him back into Angelus. The last two describe the death of Jenny Calendar, and the complications that arise now that Angel is evil.  Both are nicely adapted with little new material. 9/1/18

The Cordelia Collection by Nancy Krulik, Simon Pulse, 2002

Three episodes from the tv show. Cordelia attracts the wrath of a fellow student so unmemorable that she has become invisible. Then she and Buffy battle to be elected Homecoming Queen, are thrown together by circumstances and have to cooperate to defeat a pair of impressive vampires. A teenaged Dr. Frankenstein is trying to build a girlfriend for his zombie brother but the brother is more interested in turning Cordelia into a fellow zombie. I always though Cordelia had more potential as a character but it was rarely developed until she split off into the spinofff show. 9/1/18

How I Survived My Summer Vacation, edited anonymously, Simon Pulse, 2000

A collection of short stories set shortly after the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Michelle West describes Buffy’s efforts to deal with her short lived death. Nancy Holder shows us what happens when Giles tries to perform a ritual over the Master’s bones. Cameron Dokey has two stories, one about a tormented ghost and one about a shapeshifter. Yvonne Navarro has a mildly humorous tale about zombie soldiers marching in a Fourth of July parade. Paul Ruditis has the most interesting story. Vampires start patterning their attacks after scenes from famous plays. 8/27/18

Long Way Home by Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte, Pocket, 2001   

Conclusion of the Unseen trilogy. All of the various characters have separate adventures as Angel, Spike, and Buffy visit other realities to search for missing teenagers abducted from our world. The rest of the group battles an infestation of extra dimensional monsters and gang warfare before discovering that an experimental Soviet machine exists which has caused the portals to open. They break Faith out of jail to help and there is general mayhem for a long time before everything gets resolved. Oddly, Dawn never appears in the story although it takes place after her advent in the series. 8/25/18

Door to Alternity by Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte, Pocket, 2001 

Second in the Unseen trilogy. Someone has opened an interdimensional door and creatures from another reality are flooding into Sunnydale while some people from our world are disappearing into the other realm. There are man eating trees and six legged monstrosities added to the usual vampires, zombies, and demons Buffy is accustomed to. Angel, meanwhile, is battling the Russian mob, a gang member who has dark magic, kids who want to be vampires, and a handful of renegade police officers. The Russians were working on a project to open the doorways between realities and the device has been brought to the US.  The various forces are headed for a showdown, which obviously doesn’t happen until the final book. 8/21/18

Dead Girls Don't Love by Sarah Hans, Dragon's Roost, 2018, $13.50, ISBN 978-0998887845

This looks like a collection of horror stories but I'm not sure that's the right description. Many of them are fantasy rather than horror, although almost always quite unusual fantasy. I had read none of these previously and the author's name was unfamiliar to me, but I wouldn't be surprised if that changes soon. The stories are almost always written in a brisk style that I sometimes link with a lack of depth, but that's not the case here. The prose is economical and effective. The stories themselves vary considerably, everything from fantastic historical adventure to unconventional ghost stories to Lovecraftian parody and a new look at a familiar fairy tale. There is even a pretty good story about a zombie. This is a good collection to pick up when you want a change of pace from ordinary fantasy and horror. 8/19/18

The Burning by Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte, Pocket, 2001   

First volume in the Unseen Trilogy. This is a crossover book so the story alternates between Sunnydale and Los Angeles. Buffy is trying to help save a young man who is using magic to ingratiate himself with a street gang, while a creature made of shadows is dismembering its victims. Angel is working for the release of a man unjustly accused of killing a drug dealer. The police who arrested him are the real murderers. Cordelia and Wesley try to help a band of runaway kids who want to be vampires, but find they have bitten off more than they can chew. 8/17/18

The Journals of Rupert Giles by Nancy Holder, Simon Pulse, 2002

Novelization of three episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which largely concerned themselves with Rupert Giles. These include his brief stint as an inarticulate demon, a battle with the evil goddess Glory, and Giles’ temporary estrangement from Buffy after he agrees to put her through a terrifying test required by the Watchers’ Council. His role in two of the three segments is minimal so the book’s title is very inappropriate. 8/11/18

 The Faith Trials by James Laurence, Pocket, 2001

This was labeled Volume One but there was never a second book. It novelizes several episodes from the television program. They span Faith’s arrival in Sunnydale, Angel’s return from Hell, the assignment of a new Watcher for faith, who turns out not to be one of the good guys, etc. Faith eventually begins to turn to the dark side and the Watchers’ Council attempts to imprison her. I wasn’t a big fan of the Faith subplot until after she joined the Mayor so these were not among my favorite episodes. 8/3/18

Spark and Burn by Diana G. Gallagher, Simon Spotlight, 2005

Spike was a very changeable character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was a weak spirited poet, one of the most evil of vampires, then fell in love with the slayer and went to great efforts to regain his soul and be worthy of her. This book covers many of the episodes in which he was featured, probably too many. Individual scenes are very short in order to fit them all in and the story jumps back and forth in time so much that I was occasionally confused even though I have seen all of the episodes. Coincidentally I read yesterday that a reboot of the series is being planned. 7/23/18

King of the Dead by Christopher Golden, Pocket, 2001  v1422

Original Sins by Christopher Golden, Pocket, 2001  v1423 

Final two volumes in the Lost Slayer sequence. Giles is the king of the vampires, Angel is dead as well as some of the Scooby gang, and the government is preparing to invade Southern California. Buffy has a split soul, one from the present and one from the future. The demon god who precipitated the current crisis has been enslaved by Giles, who uses its power to create more powerful vampires.  Even after she kills Giles, she has to figure out what decision she made in the past that led to this horrible world, and Willow has to find a way to send her back through time so that she can set things right. Not a bad sequence of books. 7/18/1

Prophecies by Christopher Golden, Pocket, 2001

Dark Times by Christopher Golden, Pocket, 2001

First two volumes in the Lost Slayer series. Buffy and Willow are off to college, but the vampires haven’t gone away. An encounter with some strangely powerful ones trouble Buffy, who is having trouble adjusting to her new life style. Buffy is given a vision of a future in which Camazotz has kept her alive but imprisoned so that another Slayer cannot be chosen. Faith has died, giving rise to August, but she is also a prisoner. Much of California is ruled by vampires in the future. August tries to kill Buffy to precipitate a new Slayer, but dies instead. Buffy fakes her own death in order to escape. Back in the present, the mysterious prophet who moved her to the future is now possessing her original body.  7/16/18

Broken Sunrise by Yvonne Navarro, Simon Spotlight, 2004 

Wicked Willow does her worst in an effort to regain control of Tara’s ghost. Dawn, Giles, and Xander are all mortally injured before she succeeds, but fortunately Tara convinces her to magically heal her victims. Willow then invokes a god, but that’s a losing battle. Discouraged, she decides to destroy the entire world but Xander intercedes and convinces her not to. The finale parallels that in the television series, although the interim story is almost entirely new. 7/9/18

Keep Me in Mind by Nancy Holder, Simon Spotlight, 2005

This is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer game book in which you make a decision at various points in the text, which take you to different pages and different story paths. The main story involves the return of Ethan Hawke, Giles’ old enemy, and his efforts to revive a German sorcerer. Several of Buffy’s earlier enemies make token appearances. Written for kids and not very interesting. 7/6/18

Shattered Twilight by Yvonne Navarro, Simon Spotlight, 2004

Wicked Willow has forced several other witches to help her battle Buffy and the others. She creates a golem and infuses it with the recently deceased spirit of Riley Finn. Unfortunately, Riley is able to exert some of his own will and refrains from killing Buffy when he has the chance. He then disrupts the coven and Willow is forced to destroy her creation. Giles manages to imprison Tara’s ghost, setting the stage for the final confrontation. 7/2/18

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