Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Bad Bargain

Author: Diana G. Gallagher
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $6.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 8473 9009 7
ISBN-10: 1 8473 9009 9
Available 05 February 2007

A fund-raising sale at Sunnydale High gets out of control when shoppers suddenly begin to be bewitched by their purchases. After the school is quarantined in hopes it will contain the creepy outbreak, Giles discovers that the items from the sale, which had been stored in the school basement, have been infested with a sort of demonic vermin that escaped from the Hellmouth directly below the school. Buffy and her gang must fight them off - or risk these strange creatures helping far worse things escape from the Hellmouth, bringing death and destruction in their wake...

The plot at the centre of Bad Bargain revolves around the build up to a jumble sale at Sunnydale High. Buffy, Willow, Xander, Cordelia and Harmony are just a few of the pupils that have been roped into helping out - with the promise of extra credit - with the school's latest charity fund-raiser.

However, when Principle Snyder starts to act strangely - by being pleasant - Buffy's worst fears are realised. It appears that Snyder has taken a liking to a hat that is to be sold in the jumble sale... and the feeling is mutual - the hat has taken a liking to Snyder. Or, to be more specific, brain burrowing, demonic worms from the Hellmouth have.

In fact, this is only the start of the problems, as almost all of the helpers seem to have become fixated on one item or another - all of which are in reality harbouring a demonic entity from the Hellmouth. And as things go from bad to worse, the Scoobie gang has to team up with a demon who has been sent to put all the demons back into Pandora's box.

My first reaction to this book was how thin it was - at just 192 pages in length. But, I've never been one to look more favourably on a book just because it is nice and thick. It shouldn't matter how many pages there are - a good book should be judged on how interesting a story it has to tell. I'd much rather read a great 100 page book than a poor 500 page novel. And, I'm glad to say, Diana G. Gallagher, turns in an above average yarn here.

The whole book is set at Sunnydale High, with the brief exception of some scenes between the eve of the sale and the day of the fund-raiser. And I couldn't help thinking how good a play this would make - even down to the fact that some of the more gruesome events, like Cordelia's fate, happen behind closed doors, where we don't get to see what is going on.

Spike, Angel and Drusilla all make appearances - to keep their fans happy. I couldn't help smile to myself when Spike yells: "W*nker!" This has been passed off for years in America as a mild expletive that us Brits use on occasion - a bit like "Blimey!" no doubt. It's a shame that this wasn't spotted before the UK edition was given the all clear. Mind you, I assume the UK edition isn't reproof read, and just has a different cover with the £ price tag on it.

To sum up, while some readers may feel short changed by the low page count, for those wanting a good meaty slice of slayer action this doesn't represent a bad bargain.

Amber Leigh

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