Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Author: Pierce Askegren
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99
ISBN 1 4165 2226 3
Available 06 February 2006

The sleepy town of Sunnydale has a problem; it sits on a hell mouth, a portal for all sorts of diabolical demons. Standing against these potential hordes is Buffy Summers, slayer extraordinaire, and her menagerie of friends. When the cultured Balsamo moves into the area to reopen the drive-in cinema things start to happen. The local teenagers fall prey to a strange sleeping sickness from which they are unable to recover and Buffy has some very strange encounters with creatures of the night. Is there a connection between the two events and will the gang be able to figure it out in time...?

Afterimage is the latest Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel by Pierce Askegren, who has previously worked in the genre field penning various Marvel books as well as his own original science fiction trilogy. With so many Buffy books out there he's got to go some to compete with the couple of hundred already on the book stands.

I did watch Buffy when it was first shown, though I wouldn't claim to have any great in-depth knowledge of the show. My best guess is that the book is placed somewhere in the second or third seasons. Cordelia has joined the Scooby gang, Buffy and Angel's relationship appears to be in its early phase, Willow has yet to turn into the lesbian witch from hell and there is no Spike, sorry Spike fans, that's just the way it is.

The novel isn't bad and will please many of the fans of the show who want to see their favourite characters in familiar surroundings. The elements needed to please fans of the show are all there, lots of arse kicking with a smattering of smooching with Angel.

Characterisation is good in reflecting the shows main protagonists, though to be honest having seen Giles as the naked Prime Minister in Little Britain has kind of coloured my whole outlook on the actor - personally I feel scarred for life. You don't really find out anything new about the characters that you didn't already know from the show. The book avoids expanding on either the mythic background of Sunnydale or giving any great depth to Buffy and the gang.

As far as the plot is concerned this is the usual tie-in fare where as soon as you discover that Balsamo has reopened the drive-in you can pretty much work out the rest of the plot from there, leaving Buffy and the gang little to do except go through the motions until their inevitable victory. On a good note the villain is written well. So many of these novels reduce their baddie to a music hall caricature, thankfully Askegren avoids this pitfall.

So, not a great novel, but a credible tie-in story and if you don't mind being able to work out the plot by page sixty-four (yes I'm that anal, I counted). Great for the fans and not too hard on the old brain for the casual reader.

Charles Packer

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