Scott and Denise Ciencin deliver another messy yet surprisingly enjoyable page-turner with “Angel: Nemesis” (February 2004), their final work in the Buffyverse. Similar to the couple’s other co-written novel, “Buffy: Mortal Fear” (2003), the ideas here are wildly imaginative and the characterizations don’t feel entirely correct, but there’s never any sense that they are phoning it in. Clearly, they love telling stories and their enthusiasm is contagious.
Iwas intimidated by this latest “Buffy” novel on my shelf, “Mortal Fear” (September 2003). It’s 479 pages, and it had a bookmark toward the front, so apparently I hadn’t actually finished it back in the day. As it turns out, this novel by husband-and-wife Scott and Denise Ciencin is the most pleasant surprise of my re-reading project.
It’d be cool to read an “Angel” book of 12 short stories that each take place in one hour on the longest night of the year. “The Longest Night” (December 2002), unfortunately, isn’t that book. It claims to be that book on the back cover blurb, but the editors never told the writers. So the gang can be beat up or covered in demon goo the end of one hour and healthy and clean at the start of the next, for example.
Angel: Vengeance” (August 2002) really grew on me as the story goes along. Scott Ciencin had previously written the uneven “Buffy: Sweet Sixteen” and co-writer Dan Jolley is making his Buffyverse debut, but “Vengeance” ultimately comes together as an entertaining portrayal of Angel’s inner struggle, while also giving a nice side plot to Cordelia and the underused David Nabbit.
In his debut Buffverse novel, the young-adult entry “Sweet Sixteen” (April 2002), veteran fantasy writer Scott Ciencin seems to make a smart call by focusing on the often-underused Dawn. But after a solid start where Dawn befriends picked-on new girl Arianna, the plot is driven by misunderstandings, manipulations and contrivances. Arguably worse, most of the Scooby Gang is out of character. The book never coalesces into a satisfying whole, and even good tidbits are few and far between.