The third book in a trilogy of alternate universe Buffy: the Vampire Slayer story set at the end of Season Six.
Publication year: 2004
Page count: 258
Publisher: Pocket Books
At the end of the previous book, Giles and the gang stole Ghost of Tara away from Willow. Of course, the moment Willow realizes this, she heads over to the Magic Box to her lover’s ghost back. However, Giles has cast a powerful spell over the whole store so Willow can’t get in. In addition, Giles has imprisoned Ghost of Tara to the store so that only he can release the spirit. He, and the gang, are trying to make Willow turn back to good by forcing her to do good deeds in order to spend even little time with the ghost. Willow gives Giles her pets, Oz and Spike, but leaves, livid with rage.
Even though her two previously created underlings, the cat demon and the Riley golem, both turned against her, Willow creates one more minion. This time it’s a Gnarl demon and she imprisons it into a cave. She plans to kidnap the Scooby gang and give them to the flesh eating demon until they give her back the ghost. Willow’s minions are able to kidnap Xander and Dawn pretty easily. They are left paralyzed on the mercy of the demon who starts to skin them alive.
At the start of the book, Willow seems more merciless and evil than before. In the previous books, she and Buffy fought because Buffy and the gang were in the way, but now Willow wants revenge. She also has to deal with more mundane trouble. The families of her coven members who are missing want them back and they blame Willow. She’s forced to deal with that because the police can be quite a lot of trouble and delay Tara’s resurrection.
Willow took two familiar characters prisoners in the first book, although she calls them pets. She trapped Oz in a permanent werewolf form and chained him to her apartment. Spike had just returned to Sunnydale after he got his soul back when Willow took him as a pet, too. Oz gets a few good scenes in this book but otherwise Navarro didn’t do much with them. I kept waiting for them to get some sort of payback or something but no. In fact, I’m not sure why they were even in the series.
The tone of the series is pretty dark and depressing, which is expected, when one of the core Scooby gang turns against the others. However, in this book, the kidnapped Scoobies are down right tortured pretty gruesomely. Dawn, Xander, and Giles end up almost dead.
Unfortunately, I felt that this was the weakest book in the trilogy. I really didn’t like the ending and Willow keeps doing the same mistakes. Also, first Willow is drained from a fight and the next moment she’s teleporting and doing other stuff that clearly requires a lot of magical mojo. Sadly, the series had a great premise but ended up having too many lost opportunities. Of course, that could be because it’s a tie-in novel.