Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Into every generation, there is a Chosen One. One girl in all the world. She alone will wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer.”

3.5 stars rounded up to 4

Let me preface this review by saying that I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. HUGE. As in I own the entire series on DVD (yeah, remember those old things?) and routinely play them in the background while I’m cleaning, getting ready for the day or to go out, or when I want comfortable coziness. I love all things Buffyverse. Sooooo, when I hear of anything related to Buffy, I leap. That is what I did when I got a chance to read this book. And because I’m such a fan, I will both giddily gush with excitement, and be dramatically picky, about all new things “Buffy” in this review.

So let’s get to the book. Set in a new and allegedly demon-free Sunnydale, Frankie Rosenberg is the 16 year old daughter of witch extraordinaire Willow. Frankie is passionate about the environment and is using her newly developing witchy skills to help the world. She’s friends with werewolf Jake, who is the nephew of Oz. Oz has returned to Sunnydale to watch over Jake ever since Jake’s parents took their other son (and the one that bit Oz and made him a werewolf) to an exclusive wolf community. Together Frankie and Jake navigate typical high school stuff, something that past Sunnydale High alumni never got a chance to do – ya know, with all the death, demons and killing and all.

Their nirvana is abruptly shattered when Willow gets a call from Xander saying that a convention, at which all living slayers attended, exploded, presumably killing every slayer in existence, including Buffy and Faith. Xander and Dawn are at the site looking for survivors, and Willow and Oz stay helplessly in Sunnydale waiting for news. At the same time, Frankie feels a surge in her body and passes out at school. When she awakes Spike is in town with Hailey, the sister of missing slayer Vi, and Frankie is the new Chosen One.

New Scoobies unite! With Frankie a woefully unprepared slayer and Spike her less than stellar Watcher, Frankie can use all the help she can get. Hailey is not formally trained, but has gotten into enough fights to take a punch and give one back. She’s laser focused on finding out what happened to her sister and will do anything that may help in the cause. Jake is big, strong and loyal. Often impulsive, he doesn’t hesitate to jump into a fight. Lending a hand with research and portal magic knowledge, new character and sage demon Sigmund, is the son of Willow’s friend. He’s smart but doesn’t fight, at all, and has a tendency to jet when the fists start flying.

The new Big Bad. Is sadly lacking in character development, depth and well, “badness”. Without going into too much detail, there was nothing scary about the Big Bad other than what is typically scary about vampires and demons. The Big Bad seemed to be thrown in as an afterthought to give Frankie a big obstacle to overcome, but I’d much rather have read more about her training and her and the new Scoobie’s character development (which was sorely lacking) and have her overcome smaller obstacles, than a less-than scary, kind of silly, Big Bad. I mean, who can forget Snake- Mayor and the Ascension?!

Because this review is already so very long, let me just hit you with some likes and dislikes:

We’re back in the Buffyverse, baby!!
The old Scoobies.
The language and cadence used by the author felt very “Buffy” the show.
There are several “Easter eggs” throughout the book that are clearly apparent to any Buffy fan.
Jake and Hailey – but they need more character development.
Sigmund – kind of. Something just seems off about him and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. But perhaps I’m just too suspicious by nature…
Mysterious Demon – yeah. tell me more….:-)

The new Big Bad – see above
Spike – as in Need.More.Spike.
Ditto for Xander and Dawn. Off-screen action is not a good look for either of them.
The author’s obsession with virgins. You’ll know what I mean when you read it.
Willow and Oz “coziness??” – Um, no. nyet. uh uh.
Frankie’s father – WHAT?! {scratches head and gazes off into the distance}.
The author’s fighting scenes. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by too many fantasy novels, but the fighting scenes here are tough to read. For a book about a girl fighting demons, this area needs to smooth out. A lot.

If you like Buffy, you’ll like this book. Hopefully the second book will improve on certain areas now that the author has the first one under her belt. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book and I recommend you read it, but there’s room for improvement. I, for one, look forward to reading the next book in what I hope will be a long series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide, Hyperion. All opinions are my own.