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GHOUL TROUBLE

John Passarella's debut Buffy novel sees two new arrivals in Sunnydale - Solitaire, a vampire able to withstand daylight and Vyxn, an all-girl band with a week-long residency at The Bronze.  Through in the obligatory school problem - this time Buffy has the school's guidance counsellor hassling her - and the result is a pretty run of the mill Buffy novel.

Part of the problem is that neither of the supernatural threats are particularly involving.

Solitaire, so-called because of his loner tendency and his own take on calling cards, starts off reasonably promising, but the more stand-alone nature of the novels means that his displacing Sunnydale's supposed head vamp Skull John has none of the impact that Spike's killing of the Annointed One does.  That act showed us that not only was there a new order in town, but that Spike's threats weren't idle ones, but this seemed little more than one vamp we've never heard of killing another one.

The idea of a vampire who can walk around in sunlight was something that the television series itself explored in The Harsh Light of Day, and at least Ghoul Trouble doesn't simply retread the same ground as the TV series.

All-girl band Vxyn provide the Slayer's other main threat, in a manner that may remind some readers of the Sliders episode Stoker, although their tendency of wearing a lot of leather (or actually not-a-lot of leather) would have got Xander's attention anyway.

But being the Slayer isn't all about killing vampires and ghouls, there's school to fit in as well, and Buffy has the challenge of appeasing a new guidance counsellor, although she's not exactly in the Kathleen Topolsky league.

Ghoul Trouble serves up the usual amount of slaying and one or more of the Scooby Gang getting in trouble and having to be rescued, and provides a reasonably entertaining couple of hours, but it's pretty average stuff really. BACK TO THE TOP

GHOUL TROUBLE

Written by JOHN PASSARELLA

POCKET BOOKS

4.99 / $5.99

RATING: 6/10