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After being trapped in the final year of high school for what seemed like an eternity, Pocket Books have finally moved on.  In fact, they've jumped ahead since 'The Burning' is set between seasons four and five of "Buffy," as well as the first two seasons of "Angel."  This means its the first "Angel" novel to feature Wesley instead of Doyle, and the first time Riley and Tara have appeared in the "Buffy" novels.

The crossover nature of the novel gives us plenty of plot strands, with most of the regulars given something to do, either individually or in pairs.

The familiar idea of a previously unseen friend of Willow's leads Buffy and Willow to investigate the disappearance of Salma de la Natividad's brother, Nicky, while also solving the mystery of the mysterious shadow-like creature that's stalking the streets of Sunnydale.

Meanwhile, in LA, Angel is investigating a case of paranormal activity while Cordy and Wesley try to protect a group of wannabe vampires.

Of course, it's only a matter of time before characters from one city have to travel to the other, and with Salma's family living in LA, she, Buffy and Willow travel to the City of Angels, leaving the rest of the Scoobies back in Sunnydale.  With Anya and Xander not given a whole lot to do, this leads to the slightly surprising teaming of Riley with Tara.

The problem with being the first part of a trilogy is that it feels like the opening installments of a long "Doctor Who" story.  Things are being put in place, but there is an awful lot of separate threads at the moment, and very little is resolved - just how are the various storylines going to come together, and are certain scenes relevant to the main plot or just padding?  Still, there are a couple of nice touches with a cameo appearance by Gunn, and a continuity references to corruption in the LAPD.

However, there are also several problems with the novel itself.  The quick healing of vampires and Slayers has been well established by the TV series, but even so, Holder and Mariotte take this to what I thought were ludicrous extremes at one point.  And if you're going to throw in pop-culture references, at least get them right - coupled with the error on the backcover blurb, you do have to wonder if proofreading is something Pocket Books have heard of.

An above average start to the trilogy, but it remains to be seen whether the authors will be able to increase the pace (and my interest!) over the remaining two novels.   Back to the top

UNSEEN, BOOK 1:
THE BURNING

Written by NANCY HOLDER
and JEFF MARIOTTE

POCKET BOOKS

5.99


RATING: 6/10


NEXT CROSS-OVER:
UNSEEN, BOOK 2:
DOOR TO ALTERNITY