Christopher Golden's first solo BUFFY novel sees the return of a familiar face from the Slayer's past as, pursued by a stone demon called Grayhewn, Pike arrives in Sunnydale. Once touch from him, and you're quite literally stoned.
Throw in the usual newly arrived vamps and Joyce's new boyfriend and Buffy's obviously got her hands full. And it's not just her as Giles gets to grips with the new substitute chemistry teacher, but when she's spotted with Snyder, even Cordelia can see that Karen Blaisdell is more than she seems.
But Grayhewn and the vamps are only part of the problem as their demonic master is also in Sunnydale, and he's wearing a face that is very familiar to someone.
The inclusion of Pike, plus all the Scooby Gang being in town this time around, means that there are possibly too many characters. It's the male ones who suffer the most, with Angel, Oz, Pike and Xander to fit in.
If anyone is superfluous here it's probably Oz. Angel and Pike allow Buffy to reflect on how much her life has changed in the last couple of years, and Xander's character is relevant when he's spying on Karen Blaisdell. Oz, on the other hand, isn't really required - Pike is as laid back as he is and Xander could easily have taken on his concern for Willow.
Giles suffers slightly from a tendency to sprinkle his speech with various "English" expressions, with numerous uses of "bloody", "bollocks" or "wanker", which seem a little out of character.
My only other real criticism is the general lack of continuity with either the other novels or the TV series. Only a month or two ago, Buffy thought Joyce was in a life or death situation, but that's all forgotten now. Similarly, there's no real feeling that this takes place during the TV series' continuity - there's no Faith or Wesley even though the Oz/Willow and Xander/Cordy relationships would point towards this occuring towards the end of season 3. Perhaps it's time for Pocket Books to adopt the BBC/Virgin approach over DOCTOR WHO novels and slot the books between specific TV episodes?
On the whole though, SINS OF THE FATHER is an enjoyable BUFFY novel that's well worth checking out. BACK TO THE TOP