The first original fiction Buffy the Vampire Slayer book! Clearly, I’ve been living under a rock! Until a few weeks ago, I had no idea there are original fiction Buffy books. I was delighted when I found out that the Finnish library system has a surprising number of them. None of them are in my local library, though.
Publication year: 1997
Page count: 160
Publisher: Pocket Books
This is set during the first season (the vampires in the book serve the Master) and contradicts the later Halloween canon but it was written before any of the Halloween episodes.
Buffy, Xander, and Willow are looking forward to Halloween. Giles is edgy even though nothing has been happening for weeks. Xander and Willow tell about the local horror story: that when it rains on Halloween, the scarecrows come to life and kill everyone close by. Giles scoffs at that. Buffy goes on patrols but just manages to scare a few classmates who are convinced that she’s psycho.
The trio goes to Bronze’s traditional Masquerade to celebrate. Buffy notices some vampires who try to tell her that they don’t work during Halloween, but later she finds no less than five vampires with victims, and rescues the ungrateful teens. Then, old Mr. O’Leary comes to Bronze yelling that the dead are walking. Of course, Buffy heads out to the cemetery near O’Leary’s place – and next to pumpkin field. It’s raining.
Giles reads former Watchers’ journals and comes across a nasty description of a fight between a former Slayer and Samhain, the spirit of Halloween and a demon lord. Giles is convinced that the old Pumpkin King has come to Sunnydale. The spirit killed one of the previous Slayers.
The start of the book is a bit slow for such a short book. The gang hang out and talk, Cordelia and her cronies torment Buffy a couple of times before the action moves to Bronze. There we get a couple of funny scenes; Buffy as the Pirate Queen, and Willow and Xander as Scully and Mulder, and lots of pop culture references. Willow has even dyed her hair, which was brown in the first season, red and people comment on how good she looks.
There’s a fight with vampires but the real action doesn’t start until about half way into the book when Buffy goes to the cemetery which is infested with zombies. Slow-moving, brain-wanting, smelly zombies.
Samhain is a actually a very scary villain because he uses others’ fears against them. The absurd(er) side is that he has a rotten pumpkin head and can apparently command pumpkins. He’s supposed to originate from Ireland in the seventeenth century. Too bad that pumpkins are from North-America. (Also, as far as I can tell the name Pumpkin King is from Nightmare before Christmas and not from any old myths.) He can also raise and command zombies.
This a quick read, in fact I read most of it during bus riders to and from city center. There’s some humor but it’s not as good as Buffy episodes at their best. I also didn’t find the dialog as witty as in most episodes. However, the characters were in character and it was great to visit the first season again. The story was scarier than the average Buffy episode and the second half of the book is better than the start.
However, this is written for fans of the show and any reader should watch at least the first season before reading it.