Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Carnival of Souls

Author: Nancy Holder
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99
ISBN 1 4165 2227 1
Available 03 April 2006

There's something troubling about Professor Caligari's Travelling Carnival. Perhaps it's that no one can recall the arrival of its hard to miss caravan of old-style wagons, countless performers and horse drawn carts. Maybe it's the creepy calliope music that tirelessly beckons visitors. Let's face it, an enigma that chooses Sunnydale nearly guarantees it's up to more than wholesome family entertainment...

After a visit to the carnival's Hall of Mirrors, a once-shy pair of homely sophomore twins parades the halls of Sunnydale High like diva supermodels on a runway. Intuiting the twins' abrupt personality change to more than a self-confidence boost, Buffy - joined by Giles, Angel and the rest of the Scoobies - decides to investigate the suspicious carnival firsthand. But it's soon apparent that the price of admission is higher than she imagined. Those who enter the carnival's attractions exit changed. Each of the gang soon shows extreme displays of vice. Willow is wracked by envy; Cordelia's greed consumes her; Xander unleashes his gluttony; Angel reveals a lusty new persona; and a dark anger rises in Giles. But it's Buffy's now-blinding pride that threatens to overpower her, and in the process destroy those she loves.

Oh how we miss Buffy. And how grateful we are that we can continue to get our Slayer fix through the novels that those kind people at Pocket Books bring out. Anyway, for those in need of something Buffy related, Carnival of Souls will do the job. Taking you back to the comfort zone of classic season one, this story follows the adventures of the Scoobies when each faced with their own favourite sin. Firstly they have to work out that something is actually wrong, then when they do, they have to help each other get out of the thrall that the evil Professor has put them under. Next on the list is to work out how to do that, and beat Caligari before he destroys all of Sunnydale and sucks all its inhabitants into his soul-eating heart

But it doesn't end there, as it wouldn't be Sunnydale if this was going on without vampires and demons were taking advantage of 'open season'. So, with that in mind, it's action all the way baby!

This is one of those great Buffy stories that you could perfectly imagine as a standalone episode in the series - it really sucks you in. Even better, one of the highlights reminds me of the episode A New Man, but this time it's Giles creating a demon not becoming one.

Definitely a book worth having, and after a long gap of Buffy-verse in this writer's life, it was like an oasis appearing after a week in the desert.

Keri Allan

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