The first book in a trilogy of alternate universe Buffy: the Vampire Slayer story set at the end of Season Six.

Publication year: 2004
Page count: 282
Format: print
Publisher: Pocket Books

This is an alternate ending to Buffy’s season six where Willow turns evil from grief. Sadly, Warren still shoots Tara; the story starts right at the end of “Villains”. Willow skins Warren alive but instead of immediately teleporting away, she banters for a while with Buffy, Xander, and Anya. So, Andrew and Jonathan have time to run away, steal a car, and drive out of the book (hurrah! I rewatched the end of Season Six again and found out that I’ve apparently grown more tolerant towards the idiot trio (this time, I didn’t shout at end of every line of dialog they had “because you’re too stupid to live!”) but I might have abandoned this series if they would have become major characters. Hopefully that’s the last we’ll see of them.)

The prolog is a quick recap and rewrite of the last three episodes of season six: Willow teleports to Rack, sucks his power, and is confronted by Dawn. Then Willow attacks Buffy, Xander, and Anya at the Magic Box and Giles appears. However, this time when Willow defeats Giles and sucks his energy, she doesn’t get in touch with everyone on Earth but keeps the energy bottled up inside her and teleports away. She also doesn’t want to end the world.

Unfortunately, the book starts right at the most intense scenes from Season Six and there’s no way to keep the whole book, let alone the series, that intense. So inevitably, the energy winds down and the book seems to slow down. It seems like little happens during the book compared to the start.

In a pretty anticlimactic way, Willow simply looks for a place of her own and gathers her own coven to give her more power. Her plan is to resurrect Tara. Willow also creates a cat-like monster which will gather magical energy by killing the evil supernatural people in Sunnydale and then giving the energy to Willow.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the book and the set up (but of course it has no redeeming literary merit). I’m curious to read the rest to of the series and of course it’s a delight to return to Buffyverse again. I think the characterization was very good for the most part; Buffy and the gang determined to first help Willow and finally determined to stop her.

However, there were a couple of things that grated. Dawn: it was said in the show that the characters, including Dawn, remember their lives with Dawn; that is as if Dawn had been part of the gang right from the start. Yet, here Dawn doesn’t know Oz because he left the gang before she joined it. Huh? Also, in the final fight against Willow, Dawn is not only allowed to participate but is part of the assault group. That’s wildly out of character for Buffy who barely lets Dawn go to school alone.

Anya is one of the central characters in the book and she’s become a vengeance demon again. Even though Xander has left her at the altar only a few months ago, she’s apparently now forgiven him and they are already back together.

I’m also not too sure about the inclusion of couple of familiar characters, but hopefully Navarro does something clever with them later.

This book is written for the fans of the show; the characters, the situations, and the relationships aren’t introduced. If you haven’t seen the show, there’s really no point in reading the series.

Huge spoiler:

I also really, really liked the Ghost of Tara. She appears to Willow and says that she’s Willow’s conscience. Even though it’s problematic to me that Willow doesn’t know how the ghost came to be or who sent her, she just accepts the ghost and doesn’t even investigate hers origins, it was heart-breaking to read them talk. The Ghost tries to talk Willow out of the resurrection scheme, but when that fails the Ghost warns Willow about possible bad consequences and tries to keep her from doing real evil. Without her presence, Willow scenes would have been far more straight forward. Now Willow has to debate and explain her actions, somewhat.