Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Mortal Fear

Authors: Scott and Denise Ciencin
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99

ISBN 0 7434 68678
Available now

Buffy Summers is being run ragged all over Sunnydale these days. Working from clues some mysterious power is providing her with, the Slayer's chasing down different baddies to gather pieces of a soul sword before it can be reassembled, and fall into the wrong hands. Without Giles around, and her relationships in a mess, Buffy's at a point in her life where she could use some direction. Her friends are also searching for control in their lives, looking for areas they can excel in - without magick or destruction. Xander and Willow figure there has to be a better what to get by. But just when it seems as if their dreams are coming true, both are felled by a strange virus that has been sweeping through Sunnydale - 'poisoning' the food supply for the local vamps. With lives at stake, Buffy must broker a truce with the vamps, find the rest of the sword, and locate her mysterious benefactor. All the while fending off a rash of vicious attacks from the resident human population and all her friends and family...

Mortal Fear is an average Buffy book. Not a particularly bad read, but not that gripping either. The two stories; that of the mysterious Simon telling Buffy what to do, and the odd virus making Sunnydale's residents loose all inhibitions and really run wild seem to both drag on a bit, and only in the last few chapters do you discover that they are in some way intertwined.

The overall feel of the book follows on from the show - season six when it is set - where Buffy feels lost and confused, Xander's having a rough time getting over Anya and Willow's fighting to control her powers. Dawn of course plays a big part in this book going back to her annoying teenager ways, but you get a couple of giggles at the descriptions of her move towards a wannabe Goth style.

All in all Mortal Fear is OK, dragging on a little too long and trying to cram too much in. The best part of this book is the descriptiveness the authors use; they like to pick out small things and offer deep descriptions of them - the kinds of things hard-core Buffy fans would have noticed in the show, Buffy's thoughts, Dawn's bedroom teddy bear collection. That however is the best thing this book offers.

Keri Allan

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