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Like Pocket Books' Buffy short-story collections, The Longest Night is a themed collection from both existing and new Angel and Buffy authors.

As the title suggests, the action takes place on the longest night of the year - 21 December. Not only does this day provide the maximum time to fit in numerous adventures, but as the Winter Solstice it also gives the authors an excuse for some magickal bollocks to hang their stories on.

Angel, especially during its third season (when this collection is set), offers plenty of opportunities for a short story. On television, having five regular characters meant that some of them - perhaps most notably Fred - tended to be underused, but instead of having to use everyone at Angel Investigations as a novel does, a short story could give us, say, a solo adventure or one that only involves two or three of the AI team.

Unfortunately, The Longest Night doesn't really go in for this. Instead, we get a collection of linked stories, each taking place at a given hour on the night of 21 December.

This means that the authors all have to introduce their threat, get Angel Investigations to the scene, defeat the threat and get back to the Hyperion within sixty minutes. Okay, so some of the stories actually take place at the hotel and not all of them feature all of the team, but it still feels like a novel consisting of various mini adventures rather than one main one.

As previously mentioned, we've got an mix of established and new Angel and Buffy authors, with familiar names like Golden (both of them - Christie Golden contributed to the Tales of the Slayer collection), Holder, Mariotte and Navarro and a bunch of less familar ones.

Christopher Golden's I Still Believe, which sees Angel turning to Cordy to help him complete his Christmas shopping, is one of the highlights - an entertaining two-hander with a neat closing scene. Anyone who's ever had trouble buying gifts will relate to his cluelessness when it comes to choosing the perfect presents for Fred and Gunn.

Presents also play a major part in Yvonne Navarro's Generous Presence, which sees the team receiving a surprise package from an most expected source.

Rather than using the reduced-length to concentrate on just one or two characters, most of the authors include all or most of the AI team. It Can Happen To You, from newcomers Scott and Denise Ciencin is therefore a bit of a rarity, as it only really features Wesley.

There aren't any absolute clunkers here, but the collection really needed one or two more winners, particularly as things seemed to tail off a bit in the post-midnight stories.

A decent enough collection, but the "longest night" theme seemed more of a hindrance than anything else. back to the top

THE LONGEST NIGHT, VOL. 1

Written by PIERCE ASKEGREN,
SCOTT & DENISE CIENCIN,
DORANNA DURGIN,
CHRISTIE GOLDEN,
CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN,
NANCY HOLDER,
JEFF MARIOTTE,
YVONNE NAVARRO
and EMILY OZ

POCKET BOOKS

£6.99


RATING: 7/10


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