Reviews of the Angel novels
Site Administrator's Note: I would like to thank Lori for writing these reviews. She even provided pictures of the novels' covers, just because she rocks. Thank you, Lori!
ANGEL -- THE SUMMONED
by Cameron Dokey
A young woman attempts to escape from a terror of her own making. She knows she will shortly die, but she tries to mail a letter containing information about the horrific situation she has created for herself. She fingers the "Mark," a coin that determines her death. Suddenly, she is aware of a pillar of fire before her. A voice speaks from the flames and she is burned before she can scream.
Doyle's latest vision hits him while he's in the supermarket. It is typically vague -- fear, fire, death. As he recovers from the pain, an anxious young woman attempts to assist him. Doyle quickly thanks her and races off to tell Angel and Cordelia about the latest message from the Powers that Be.
The girl, Terri Miller, is a shy girl feeling overwhelmed by the loneliness she has found in Los Angeles. However, shortly after her meeting with Doyle, she meets a handsome, charismatic young man who invites her to join a club to which he belongs.
Meanwhile, Angel Investigations tries to discover who or what has been burning apparently random victims beyond recognition. The police are having no luck in capturing what has become known as the Krispy Kritter Killer. Someone from Wolfram and Heart passes a "Mark" to Angel that gives the vampire and his friends only one day to solve this latest case.
by Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte is the first in a new crossover trilogy involving Buffy and Angel.
Salma de la Navidad is a friend of Willow and Buffy's. Although Salma is a sweet girl who has blended in with her new friends at UC Sunnydale, her brother Nicky longs to gain acceptance in the LA Latino gangs. To impress his new friends, Nicky uses some magics stolen from his grandmother. The spell goes horribly wrong, doors to alternate realities open, and a variety of vicious demons pour into Sunnydale. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Angel investigates corrupt cops and a prisoner who has supernatural powers, while Cordelia stumbles upon a group of runaway girls who want to become vampires. Both must dodge the street warfare between the Latino gangs and the Russian Mafiosi.
Added to the mix is a strange Russian family who lives in an impregnable bunker and has a mysterious machine that may alter realities. Buffy, Angel and the others struggle with the internal question of do I make a difference in the world and the more pertinent question of will they be able to right all the wrongs going on in the volatile present situations.
DOOR TO ALTERNITY
by Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte is the second book in the UNSEEN trilogy.
Buffy and Riley travel to Los Angeles to try to track down Salma who has disappeared. They meet with Angel to see how he can help them and realize that they are both trying to find missing teenagers. Meanwhile, Willow is working with Dona Pilar, a bruja, or witch and also Salma's grandmother, to see if they can create a way to see into the distant realities and perhaps bring Salma back. After talking with Giles, Buffy decides to return home to try to plug up the hole through which all the monsters are entering Sunnydale. They have discovered that the Russian family has created a machine that has the ability to open portals into a variety of different dimensions. The daughter feels guilty about what her parents have done, steals the machine from them and escapes to Cordelia's.
Willow, Dona Pilar and Tara have worked on a spell that will help send Angel and Buffy through portals to rescue the teenagers. Alina, the Russian girl, will use the machine to assist in the time-travel. The slayer and the vampire walk through spiritual doorways not knowing what they will find.
LONG WAY HOME
by Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte finishes the UNSEEN trilogy.
When Angel and Buffy step into the new reality, they do not enter in the same place. In fact, they each have to fight strange beasts and seemingly alive buildings to get to each other. While the vampire and the slayer search for each other, Riley breaks Faith out of prison, so that she can help Buffy and Angel. As the rogue slayer walks through another supernatural opening, Spike unexpectedly dives through. They too are separated in the new reality.
As Angel and Buffy fight their separate battles in the strange alternity, mayhem and violence continues to storm through Los Angeles and Kate Lockley struggles to contain it. As they search for each other, the former lovers wonder if there is an alternative reality where their love could survive. Finally they locate each other and the missing teens, except Salma. As a portal opens near them, one of the teens is killed through his own carelessness, and it quickly closes. Shortly thereafter, Faith enters through a portal nearby, Spike enters from another and Salma enters from yet another. As more monsters march toward them, Faith listens for Alina whose voice in her head is suddenly silenced. Close to panic, Faith feels the Mayor talking to her. A portal opens and the motley group jumps through to safety.
by Thomas E. Sniegoski: Doyle has a vision of an unconscious child and he, Angel and Cordelia rush to the scene only to find the child being taken to the hospital by the EMTs. Angel and Cordelia follow the ambulance to the hospital while Doyle explores the house. Later, when he joins his friends, he shows them the glass vial that he found beside the little girl's bed. Angel is horrified. Although he knows that everything is for sale in Los Angeles, he never expected trafficking in souls. But apparently souls are now a hot ticket item in the underworld. And the souls of innocent children are the most valuable. Someone who should have always protected her has betrayed this little girl, Aubrey Bentone. Angel now must face a master magician, numerous homunculi and a seriously obese soul-eating demon, to recapture and replace the soul before the little girl's body withers and dies.
by Mel Odom: Angel, Doyle and Cordelia are almost overwhelmed in this action packed novel. A weeping woman dressed in black has attacked a priest, gang members, and children. She is a bruja, famous in Spanish legend as a witch who murdered her own children and now haunts the earth in search of them, killing anyone who stands in her way. Meanwhile, Doyle sees a vision of a young mother and her son who are in danger in the dock area of Los Angeles. Cordelia takes over the search for the missing wife of an entertainment producer. Angel has his hands full with a group of vampires who are operating a "meals on wheels" venture and some demon telemarketers who have stolen computer game software. Angel Investigations is stretched almost too thin as they try to solve everything before running out of time.
by John Passarella (2/27/01): In mythology, an avatar is a deity who descends to earth and manifests itself in a non-godlike form. In the world of computers, an avatar is a digital persona created to physically represent who you are on the computer screen. A new demon has arrived in Los Angeles. It is sucking the physical life force out of victims across the city, leaving behind just clothing and powdered bones. As Angel investigates, it becomes clear that the victims' only connection is their predilection for visiting chat rooms. Before he can vanquish it, Angel must learn which human is helping the demon find its victims, and why members of a cult are also searching intently for it. Meanwhile, Doyle has a vision of a beetle-like creature carrying off a teenager from a video arcade and Cordelia seeks help creating a web page for Angel Investigations to bring in more paying clients. Angel, a 200+-year old vampire, must incorporate both old and new methods to combat the challenges of ever evolving evil.
by Jeff Mariotte (1/28/01): Doyle's latest vision sends Angel to investigate a woman named Betty McCoy, who died in 1964. Cordelia's research reveals nothing unusual about the woman but Angel continues his search. Ever re-inventing itself, Los Angeles frequently demolishes old buildings. One such project released PI Mike Slade from the room in which his murdered body had been imprisoned since 1961. Slade is looking for Betty too, as well as the corrupt LA official who had him killed. He is also puzzled about the many changes that have occured in Los Angeles in almost 40 years. Angel's search eventually leads him to Slade and they struggle to solve a mystery that had its beginnings in LA's past, when it first became known as Tinseltown and when the movies were frequently Cinema Noir.
by Don DeBrandt: Doyle has a vision of an earthquake's destruction of Los Angeles. When Angel investigates further, he discovers that a group of human-looking Serpentene demons, who make a successful living as telemarketers, are targeted by a group of subterranean quake demons. Normally, these benign, forked-tongue business tycoons have no enemies, and they quickly request Angel's help with their underground foe. Add Wolfram and Hart to the mix and there are double crosses as well as physical ramifications.
ANGEL: CITY OF
by Nancy Holder is a novelization of the first show of Angel with additions. Angel moves to LA to mourn his loss of Buffy and to atone for his past actions. Doyle, an Irish half-demon, Angel's link with the powers that be, receives messages amid painful migraines. Cordelia, former Sunnydale rich girl, now down on her luck in LA, begins to work for Angel. Doyle and Cordelia attempt to show Angel how to involve himself in the lives of those he must help. Although Angel fails to save Tina, he does rescue Cordelia from a powerful vampire. He kills this vampire and the lawyers from Wolfram and Hart realize that 'there is a new player in town.' The novel enriches the episode with numerous flashbacks of Angel's life as Angelus, his relationship with Darla and Spike and Drusilla. It further explores the gypsy curse and revisits the restoration of his soul.
ANGEL: NOT FORGOTTEN
by Nancy Holder is the first original novel based on the characters in Joss Whedon's television show ANGEL. People in LA, especially immigrants, are being killed by being burned from the inside out. The criminal activity centers around a cult of worshippers of Latura, the Indonesian God of the dead. As Angel investigates the cult, Cordelia tries to find the leader of a band of child pickpockets. Eventually, they discover that the two are interconnected and once again, Angel's past associations in Ireland meld into today's trouble that he must put right.
by Mel Odom is an original novel based on the television series, ANGEL, by Joss Whedon. Doyle is happy, their new client is a walk-in which means no mind-numbing migraines from TPTBs. Cordelia is ecstatic because the client is an actress in a popular TV series, coincidentally playing a vampire; a lovely female vampire. Angel is speechless when he sees her, because she is the image of a woman warrior he fought off the coast of Ireland 200 years before! There are numerous attempts on Whitney's life and as Angel, Doyle and Cordelia work to find whoever wants the actress dead now, Angel's past adventures in Ireland again hold the key to the present problems.
ANGEL: CLOSE TO THE GROUND
by Jeff Mariotte is the fourth in the new ANGEL series of books and the third original novel. Jack Willits is a paying customer and a bigshot at a movie studio. Cordelia is thrilled and weasels her way into a job on the lot. Angel, meanwhile is less than happy about his job - guarding Willits' spoiled daughter Karinna. Time becomes an enemy as Angel tries to keep up with Karinna's escapades, help Kate, who is involved in a violent robbery situation, and hold off an ancient sorcerer from Ireland, who needs him as part of a ritual. Power, fame, immortality...sought often by those who come to LA and by the characters in this novel!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Novel Synopses and Critiques
Site Administrator's Note: I would like to thank Cara for offering to write these critiques. They are extremely thoughtful and well done. I hope they will be a helpful guide to the Buffy novels as you decide which ones to buy. Please feel free to contact Cara about her reviews.
The Angel Chronicles Vol. 1
a novelization by Nancy Holder ($4.50)
The first volume in The Angel Chronicles is a novelization of three episodes---Angel, Lie to Me, and Reptile Boy. The stories show the beginning of the tragic Angel/Buffy romance. Since you've probably seen these episodes, no more needs to be said=)
After I wrote my first critique of this book, I went back to check on a few things and while rereading, I realized I had to do a big rewrite. First of all, Nancy Holder did a wonderful job in keeping with the same wittiness and tone as the show...again. The way she writes the character's thoughts is exactly as you would imagine them. It seems like some authors have a difficult time in doing that, so when I see someone do so well, I'm very happy=)
The one thing that really disappointed me about the book was that it was written in 3rd person and not from Angel's point of view, as I had hoped. IMO, it would have made extremely interesting reading for many of us Angel groupies. While Nancy Holder did give some insight into the character's thoughts, (particullary Angel's) she also missed out on some great opprotunities to do so. However, in the parts where she did give a good deal of insight, such as the introduction, it's wonderful. Many instances made me realize small nuances about what that character could have been feeling or thinking---things that I missed or might not have thought of until then. In closing, it was very well written, not exceptional, but still a good novelization=)
--- Cara --- Cara821(AT)aol.com
by Christopher Gloden and Nancy Holder ($4.50)
This is the first Buffy book I've read that is an orginal story, not to mention the first with Angel in it. The story starts off the day after Willow gets mugged and a little beat up. That incident pretty much sets into motion all the events and actions that take place. She starts to feel like she needs to be stronger, better prepared for those situations---not to mention a little envious of her best friend Buffy's abilities. During a field trip to an exhibit on Japanese culture, Willow reaches out to touch an ancient sword and cuts her finger. Apparently that sword held the Chinese vampire/demon Chirayoju (we'll just call him Cheerios... read the book to understand=)) and when Willow cut herself on the sword, it was freed. Cheerios posesses Willow in order to grow stronger and build up a vampire army to destroy the world. Xander(who Willow nearly killed), becomes posessed by Sanno, the Japanese mountain god who trapped Cheerios in the sword and plans to get rid of him, once and for all. Buffy, trying to help Willow, offers her body to be posessed by Cheerios, hoping to fight an internal battle with it. Needless to say, when the Slayer fights, the Slayer wins=)
I think that this book was written well. The authors have done a very good job in keeping with the same overall tone as the show...not to mention the witty dialogue. They did some great insight into the thoughts and emotions of the characters, especially with Angel and Buffy---something that was very lacking in The Angel Chronicles Vol.1. An interesting fact in the setting, though, is that it takes place after Angel has gotten his soul back.(No mention of being sent to hell, getting out, major change in attitudes toward him etc.) I'm guessing that this is stated in general terms, loosely based due to the fact that the authors don't know whats to come in Season 3.
Anyhoo, onto the critique=) In dealing with character protrayal, nearly all of the actions, dialogue, insights were on the mark. Cordelia was perceived to be somewhat more scathing and harsh in the book. In contrast, on the show, she seems stuck-up, rude...but in a lovable kind of way.(Towards the end of Season 2, she wasn't even extremely rude) I felt like the authors went overboard with Cordelia, making her alot meaner than what we're used to seeing. Another nuance I noticed that seemed a bit out of place was Giles's hurt reaction to some of Buffy's comments towards him. On the show, to me at least, it seems as though he gets urked by them, but never really hurt.
Finally, this is a bit of speculation on my part, dealing with Buffy's response to Willow asking Buffy to teach her some self defense. IMO, the Buffy I'm used to would have agreed, ready to help her best friend---if Willow felt like self defense would make her feel better, Buffy would be there for her. However, in the book, it seemed like Buffy almost brushed if off, as if Willow didn't need to have any self defense training because she was there and there was no immediate reason for it (she does offer later on, but too late). A tad anti-Buffy? Maybe, but then, maybe Buffy doesn't really understand what its like not be able to hit someone untill they bleed in those situations=)
Altogether, great book! --- Cara --- Cara821(AT)aol.com
A novelization by Richie Tankersley Cusick ($4.50)
Buffy Summers has just moved to a new town, Sunnydale. One that she hopes is, well, of the non-demon persuasion. Turns out, its the homebase of everything that goes bump in the night. Now, the Harvest is coming, and if the Master rises---it could be the end of the world. (Its a novelization of Welcome to the Hellmouth Pts 1 & 2)
Well, I've got to say that I wasn't very impressed by the writing. Cusick's style wasn't bad, persay, but it lacked a certain something that's been in the other Buffy books I've read. His observations of the character's feelings, actions, and thoughts were rather blase. When compared to Nancy Holder's novelizations in The Angel Chronicles Vol. 1, she's the one that gets my thumbs up=)
The one big plus that I noticed in The Harvest, is that it doesn't follow the TV version to the letter. Some actions and scenes that occur may have been in the TV script but were thrown out, changed or just misunderstood. (As far as I remember, there wasn't any mention of the fact that the Master's lair was an old church that got buried underground.) Finally, the one good thing I can always say about novelizations, is the character nuances that may not have been totally clear are explained.
Altogether, The Harvest isn't totally a lost cause. It didn't really captivate or intrigue me, but if its a rainy day and you have nothing to do, read away=)
--- Cara --- Cara821(AT)aol.com
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