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Book Review

Book Cover

Buffy the Vampire Slayer FAQ


Authors: David Bushman and Arthur Smith
Publisher: Applause
ISBN: 978 1 4950 6472 2
Publication Date: 22 March 2018

Applause has released a series of books dedicated to genre shows under their FAQ banner, having already reviewed the ones which cover the X-Files and Twin Peaks, I was interested to see what David Bushman and Arthur Smith could possibly offer up for surely one of the most written about shows with Buffy the Vampire Hunter FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Sunnydale’s Slayer of Vampires, Demons, and Other Forces of Darkness (2017. 384 pages).

First off, I’ll say what the book is not. There are no dull episode lists, there are more than enough of those out there, and in the age of the internet and Wiki the information in book form is largely redundant.

Buffy ran for seven seasons between 1997 and 2002. Fronted by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the titular role, the Joss Whedon show was not only noted for its commercial success and popularity it was also a show which took risks. Temperamentally, a bit of high school fluff, with an added supernatural layer, the show was not afraid to play with the format.

They produced one episode within which all the script was sung (The Season 6 episode Once More, With Feeling) and, of course, there was the episode following the death of Buffy’s mother (Season 5's The Body), which was and remains distressingly heart-breaking and a testament to both the writers and actor involved.

The book is broken up into twenty-one chapters with an additional bibliography and introduction. It contains a broad selection of black and white photographs, with a collection of episode stills, behind the scenes pics and some publicity shots. There are the FAQ which come in the form of interviews.

The opening chapters cover the actors as well as a summary of who the bad and good guys were. Rather than just descriptions many of these sections contain interesting tit bits about the show. Each of the show's seasons are covered, however the authors have chosen to present the information in more of an essay form, looking at the most pertinent things about that season as well as offering up comment and criticism, this presents the information in a more interesting and readable format. The contents are wrapped up with a look at the original film as well as the various projects that were launched after the success of Buffy.

I’m not sure it’s intentional, but the book would seem to be aimed at a younger audience, as some of the language and writing style is unsophisticated.

That said overall, it’s a good primer for the show with enough information to entice the novice and surprise the initiated.


Charles Packer

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