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The seventh Buffy/Angel cross-over novel (counting the three Unseen books separately) sees the Scooby Gang and Angel Investigations up against a powerful Chinese powerful sorceror and his terracotta army. Although quite why these Chinese soldiers are described as samurai is a bit of mystery...

One major problem that the cross-overs have is the sheer number of characters make things unwieldy. It would be far better for one or maybe two characters from one series to crossover to the other (and not necessarily just Buffy and Angel either), instead of having to use all the regulars from both.

By including everyone, Holder has to juggle Angel, Connor, Cordy, Fred, Gunn and Wesley as well as Buffy, Anya, Dawn, Spike, Willow and Xander. Throw in sizeable roles for Lilah and Principal Wood as well as the return of Jhiera from She and there are simply too many characters running around.

Another major problem is that the crossover authors seem determined to make their novels more epic by giving us a threat of apocalyptic proportions. It's getting boring as we know that the apocalypse can't happen. Holder goes further in that direction than most previous authors have but it's ultimately pointless as she results to a deus ex machina cop-out.

These major flaws spoiled a potentially interesting novel that would probably have been better as an Angel novel rather than as a crossover. Focusing on a smaller number of characters would have made it a much easier read than having to jump back and forth between characters or pairs of characters all the time. Including everyone just made the whole thing whole thing even more complicated as we got towards the end of the novel.

Holder tries to play on the Buffy and Angel relationship, but this jars with the novel's placement in the two series' continuity. Heat is set during Buffy's seventh season and Angel's fourth, but Holder has the pair acting like teenagers.

She has also an annoying habit of real-life Buffyverse pop-culture references. On TV, these would probably be little in-jokes for eagle-eyed viewers, but in-your-faces references to a film starring Nathan Fillion, Dawn mentioning Harriet the Spy plus Nerfherder and Darling Violetta started to get on my nerves, dragging me out of the action when they were clumsily dropped into the narrative.

Logistics obviously limited the number of crossovers we got on television, but this was probably no bad thing. Freed from those constraints, the novels are able to do them, but as Heat demonstrates, just because they can doesn't mean they should. Disappointing. back to the top

HEAT

Written by NANCY HOLDER

POCKET BOOKS

£6.99


RATING: 4/10



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