First book in the Gatekeeper trilogy which is set on the third season after Revelations and before Lovers’ Walk.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 369
Publisher: Pocket Books

Buffy, Willow, Oz, Xander, and Cordelia are “enjoying” the Amateurs night at the Bronze. When Angel joins them, Buffy is feeling lonely and leaves. The rest of the gang follows her. Outside, they are attacked by a large creature which breaths fire. Xander tries to protect Cordelia from it but Buffy shoves him to the ground. Cordelia’s hair is burned and Xander is really mad at Buffy because apparently he still wants to be the big man around. The creature flees. Giles is in New York in a Librarians’ meeting so the gang start to research with out him. They find out that the creature is a demon called the Springheel Jack. Then clear skies start to thunder so loud that it feels like the sky is falling.

Meanwhile in New York, Giles meets a beautiful, intelligent, and sophisticated Micaela Tomasi and enjoys an evening with her. He’s starting to think that he might get over Jenny’s death. Then, his room is ransacked and he’s pushed down stairs so that he’s in hospital for several days. When Buffy finds out, she seriously considers flying to NY but reluctantly decides to defend Sunnydale against more than the usual monsters. Trolls are kidnapping people and the Kraken has attacked local fishermen. There’s also a rain of toads.

Micaela confesses to Giles that she’s a Watcher and she’s been sent to keep an eye out for Giles because several Watchers have been killed. Giles is disappointed and concerned. Then Micaela disappears and Giles returns to Sunnydale. However, Giles is convinced that all of the chaos has been happening because something nasty has happened to the Gatehouse in Boston. The Gatekeeper is the man who is supposed to imprison creatures from other dimensions. Giles, Buffy, Xander, and Cordelia fly to Boston while Willow, Oz, and Angel defend Sunnydale.

Out of the Madhouse has a lot of fighting and action scenes. Most of the time the gang is split up so that effectively doubles the fight scenes. However, there’s time for a few character scenes as well. Most of the time Xander makes it obvious that he hates Angel but there’s one scene where they sort of bond over fighting a troll. Except when Xander calls Angel “Dead Boy”. There’s also a great scene between Willow and Joyce, Buffy’s mother. They don’t interact much at all in the series so it was great to have them together, even though they ended up worrying about Buffy.

The characterization is mostly spot on. The gang is pretty focused on the upcoming graduation and Buffy is depressed because she can’t have a life after graduation. It’s also disappointing to her mother, even though Joyce seems to be mostly in denial about Buffy being the Slayer.

I have only a couple of complaints. Oz talked too much but this could be because it’s harder to convey just body language in a book. The gang was a bit too accepting of Angel; the book is set right after Revelations where the gang finds out that Buffy has been harboring Angel, and yet everything is pretty much the same as before Angel went Angelus. Willow has a few angsty thoughts but that’s it. Also, no Faith! Surely, she should have been in the thick of things, fighting.

The Gatehouse is an interesting concept but it’s perhaps a bit too big for something which is never spoken of before or after. The same goes for some monsters, too. I really enjoyed the concept of the Ghost Roads where the spirits of (some?) of the dead are waiting for their passage to afterlife. I can’t wait to see more of in the next book. But once again, it’s very uncanonical.

The book has a handful of short historical scenes, which are integrated into the story. The first is set in 1539 in the Court of King Francis I. Two sorcerers are trying to get power in the court by influencing the Daphine, Catherine de’ Medici. She’s still childless and desperate to try anything. One of the sorcerers kills a Slayer in order to get power. Later, we get diary entries from one of the sorcerers. I enjoyed these.

This is definitely a book for Buffy fans, though. There’s not much explanations for people who’ve never watched the show.