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One of my recurring complaints about the Buffyverse spin-off novels is just how they fit into the television series' continuity.

Sanctuary addresses this problem through the historian's note which tells us that it takes place prior to This Old Gang of Mine - a far more satisfactory arrangement that the old "first half of season xx" one.

To be honest, its position within the overall continuity would be relatively easy to guess - Fred is still adjusting to life back on Earth, and Caritas has yet to be destroyed. Even so, this is something that I hope that Pocket Books continue with.

The action takes place in a single night. The Angel Investigations gang are enjoying a night out at Caritas when - following a fire in a building opposite and a drive-by shooting, both of which are clearly diversions - Fred disappears. Angel soon receives an ultimatum - if he's in an particular place at sunrise, then Fred goes free, otherwise she dies.

True to character, Angel is prepared to go through with the arrangement, even though he knows deep down that he shouldn't.

Obviously we know that neither Angel or Fred can actually be killed off. However, the double threat helped retain my interest since there were various possible outcomes - Fred escapes, Fred is rescued or Angel keeps his appointment but somehow turns the tables on the kidnappers. The sense of urgency also helps, with dawn rapidly approaching.

The crew are largely split up - Angel following up clues, Cordy on research duties back at the Hyperion, Lorne interrogating the clientale at Caritas and Gunn and Wesley on the streets kicking some demon arse.

The action switches between the regulars, including Fred, who isn't just simply locked up and forgotten about or simply chained up and waiting for someone to rescue her. She shows the sort of resourcefulness and intelligence you'd expect, despite being kidnapped on one of her first times outside the Hyperion.

However, although the clock is ticking, some elements of the novel dragged. Lorne, for example, spends much of the novel interviewing his customers, and although they yield one or two clues, they also slowed things down a little. To be fair to Mariotte, it's difficult to see how Lorne could have been used differently, although perhaps these interviews could have been briefer.

Overall, though, this was a pretty entertaining read, and it was especially nice to see Fred used as something more than the helpless kidnap victim that she could have been. back to the top





RATING: 7/10