Slayer Lit

Slayer Lit Review

heading

SINS OF THE FATHER

by Christopher Golden reviewed by Shiai

It would not be inappropriate to say that Christopher Golden is the "fanfic" Buffy writer, as so much of his work with the series incorporates elements favored by amateur scribes, from story concepts to bits of past continuity. He seems to approach so many of his stories from the perspective of what the longtime Buffy fans would like to discover the most in the course of reading this story.

In that respect, "Sins of the Father" is a fan's dream! Golden gives us several seemingly unrelated supernatural menaces...a band of vampires with a mysterious master who set their sights on Giles, a new substitute teacher at Sunnydale High School who gets cozy with Rupert, but who turns out to be more than she seems, and a stone demon chasing a young man in an act of vengeance. It's this last threat which will intrigue many readers, for the prey in question is none other than Pike, Buffy's boyfriend from the original movie, and a character never seen nor mentioned on the TV series!

Turns out that after their initial adventures, Pike decided that playing sidekick to the Chosen One wasn't something he was too keen on. Dropping out of school and heading down the coast, he set himself up as a surfing beach bum, and loving every minute of a life minus monsters...until a friend dabbled in magick and summoned Grayhewn, the stone demon, and getting himself killed in the process. Stumbling in on the ceremony, Pike only barely managed to escape with his own life, but not before destroying Grayhewn's mate. Enraged, the demon has pursued Pike across California, with the teenager eventually tracking Buffy down in Sunnydale, hoping that the Slayer can help him.

The reemergence of Pike suddenly complicates Buffy's life more than usual. She has been wrestling with the complications of her love for Angel, with whom she can never be with for fear of unleashing Angelus again. And yet, who else could she ever be happy with? Who else could ever understand her fate as the Chosen One? The only other possible person, it would seem, is Pike.

When Buffy isn't trying to sort out her feelings for Angel and Pike, she's worried about Giles, who isn't acting like himself. His relationship with Miss Blaisdell seems to parallel his personality shift...he's almost always exhausted, distracted, short-tempered, and generally scatterbrained. And then there's the matter of the new vampires in town who seem intent on capturing...not killing...the Watcher. It turns out the mastermind behind them is someone from Rupert's past, and his appearance has the deepest personal repercussions possible for Giles (Hint: Consider the title of this book).

Golden's skills as a writer have not only been in intricate plotting and rapid-fire pacing (this book whizzes by so fast, you'll need to catch your breath), but also in having a sharp grasp of the differing personalities of the various secondary characters. Xander acts like Xander, Willow like Willow, Joyce like Joyce, rather than simply being interchangeable peripheral passers by. And he really has fun with Cordelia, letting her revel in her bitchiness, but also quietly demonstrating that beneath the snooty exterior, she truly cares about the Scoobies, and she risks her life...and her manicure...to help them time and again.

We get some nice interactions between various components of the cast: Xander and Cordelia insult one another, but the lingering sexual undercurrent of their failed relationship remains. In a bit of foreshadowing of what is to come, Angel and Cordy also have a scene together. Oz and Willow fit so well together, you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd be forever (when Willow is kidnapped by vampires, Oz thinks nothing of his own safety as he strikes out to get her back). And Oz and the equally laconic Pike hit it off famously.

The book is rife with pop culture references, as well as many nods to the past history of the series (from Jenny Calendar to CRD, seen for the first and last time in the episode titled "I Robot, You Jane," but again figuring in as the lair of the present villain). Golden knows how to pepper his stories with little bits and pieces that leave hardcore fans oohing and ahhing.

For the climactic battle, he also adds a weapon that I had long ago considered to be a perfect means of fighting a vampire, and which I was always curious why the series...or any horror movie with vampires, for that matter...never thought of it: A squirt gun loaded with holy water! He also give us an industrial power flashlight with a cross painted on the face, acting like a religious bat signal to ward off the vampires. Again, these seem so obvious, you can only wonder why no one ever thought to use them before.

SINS OF THE FATHER is near the top of my list of favorite Buffy books because it not only gives us some memorable villains and a nicely twisting plot that dovetails all of them together neatly, and not only because we get some excellent characterizations, but because Christopher Golden is clearly having FUN writing this one, mining the Slayer's rich history in ways that I wish more authors would. It's books such as this which make the Buffy novels so superior to many other genre series.