Keith R.A. DeCandido, who wrote the solid “Serenity” novelization, checks into the Buffyverse with the series’ most heavily researched novel in terms of real-world details. It’s clear “Blackout” (August 2006) is close to the heart of the author. He lived in New York City as a kid in July 1977, the same time as the real-world 25-hour blackout and looting, and the time of the fictional showdown between Nikki Wood the Vampire Slayer and Spike.
It’s probably too strong of a statement to say Robert Joseph Levy’s “Go Ask Malice: A Slayer’s Diary” (June 2006) is the best Faith story. There’s no question it stands on the shoulders of the work done by “Buffy” and “Angel” TV writers and actress Eliza Dushku. But the book allows us to go deeper than ever before into the psyche of Faith, quite a change from the early days of “Buffy” books when the character was totally off limits.
Nancy Holder’s status as an elite Buffyverse author was already secured, but disappointingly – especially considering she’s coming off the outstanding “Queen of the Slayers” (2005) — she wraps up her run with the forgettable “Carnival of Souls” (April 2006). This Season 2-set novel calls to mind John Vornholt’s “Coyote Moon” (1998), which has some problems but more evocatively portrays the colorful mood of a carnival than this book does. It also makes me think of Holder’s excellent first adult “Buffy” novel, “Child of the Hunt” (1998, co-written with Christopher Golden), wherein a pack of roving demons comes to town during a Renaissance fair, like a twisted version of a traveling carnival.
In the early days of the “Buffy” books, the series released just a handful of Season 1-2 novels before staking out Season 3 as its primary storytelling ground. With the book series still popular enough to stay afloat after the end of the TV series, and with rumblings of Joss Whedon continuing the narrative someday in comics, the publishers made the smart decision to set most of the new books in Season 2. The first of these is “Afterimage” (January 2006), in which author Pierce Askegren walks the fine line of crafting a yarn that fits in Season 2 but keeps it small enough that we understand why the events aren’t referenced elsewhere – like “Bad Eggs” (2.12) in scope, but better in quality.
In the early days of the “Buffy” novels, we got the points of view of supporting characters – as well as a chance to revisit episodes prior to syndication and home video – in series such as “The Angel Chronicles,” “The Xander Years” and “The Willow Files.” Diana G. Gallagher’s “Spark and Burn” (July 2005) brings back that format, and attempts to spice it up, as Spike wallows in the Sunnydale High basement in early Season 7. As he’s harassed by The First, he thinks back on the events of Season 2, when he enters Buffy’s sphere.
Nancy Holder gives extra care and attention to “Queen of the Slayers” (May 2005), writing it as if it’s the canonical followup to “Buffy” Season 7, taking place simultaneously with “Angel” Season 5. A lot of what she writes would later be contradicted (and a lot of it repurposed/borrowed) for Joss Whedon’s canonical “Buffy” Season 8-12 comics. But “Queen of the Slayers” still holds up as a smart, legitimate interpretation of what could’ve happened; indeed, if the continuity contradictions were removed, this book could stand as a worthy “Season 7.5.”
Jeff Mariotte probably didn’t know “Love and Death” (October 2004) would be the last “Angel” novel when he wrote it, but it plays pretty well since it has that status. By Season 4, when this book is set, the likelihood that the general public doesn’t know about vampires and demons was starting to be stretched thin, and “Love and Death” directly addresses this through Night Country radio host Mac Lindley, who encourages his loyal listeners to go to L.A. and kill monsters.
Buffy” Season 12 should ideally be longer than four issues, and I’m guessing it would’ve been 12 issues if the timing had worked out better. But Fox brought the “Buffy” license back in-house – ending Dark Horse’s 21-year run with the title and canceling this 11-year canonical continuation of the TV series – so Joss Whedon and Christos Gage had to cram their final statement into four issues.
During the time of “Buffy” Season 11, Giles is off at high school in Los Angeles in the clunky four-issue series “Girl Blue” (February-May 2018). It’s credited to Joss Whedon and Erika Alexander (also an actress, who has a role in “Get Out”), but since I get no sense whatsoever that this is a Whedon script, I’m tempted to see it as Alexander’s work.
As she did with “Buffy: These Our Actors” (2002), co-written with Dori Koogler, Ashely McConnell writes an “Angel” novel – “Book of the Dead” (July 2004) — that makes me wish she wrote more than two Buffyverse books. Unlike most of the tie-in authors, McConnell isn’t shy about building on the established mythology. “These Our Actors,” which continued the Spike and Cecily story, later got contradicted by the TV series and comics, but “Book of the Dead” hasn’t yet been contradicted, and it therefore stands as a rare window into Wesley’s time at the Watchers’ Academy.