I've occasionally had a moan about Pocket Books' choice of cover stars for its BUFFY books, but this time around it gets the choice dead right. Although, to be fair, since the story revolves around Spike and Willow, anyone else would have been a very strange choice.
The story alternates on a chapter-by-chapter basis between Sunnydale in the fall of 2000 (i.e. during season 5) and London during 1880.
In the former setting, Willow has joined a Drama class, only to find that Buffy has dropped out. Unperturbed, she continues with the class, and asks her tutor, Doctor Addams, for extra credit.
In the 19th century scenes, William, a would-be poet, is trying to impress the object of his desires, except that it's very much a case of unrequited love. William might be bloody awful at poetry, but he's also bloody awful at trying to pull Cecily Addams.
We've seen both William and Spike in Victorian England several times before, but the writers tie the book into the TV episode FOOL FOR LOVE by giving his us "origin" story. We see his pursuit of Cecily, his rejection by her, his turning and then his undead life with Angelus, Darla and Drusilla.
Meanwhile, in Sunnydale, Doctor Addams, is more than just your average Drama professor. Well, for a start, he must be well over 100 years old, since his daughter is the girl that William was after 120 years earlier.
For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed THESE OUR ACTORS. The 1880 chapters are highly enjoyable, despite the odd Americanism slipping in here and there. Spike has almost always been an interesting character, and it's great to see him with the rest of his vampire "family".
The Sunnydale scenes are also good. The Drama class scenes take place over a few weeks, but since Willow is on her own for the most part, it's perfectly possible for them to be taking place at the same time at the televised episodes.
After complaining about character bloat in previous novels, it's pleasing to note that there's none of that here. It's just as well, really, since 10 of the 21 chapters take place in Victorian England, and although most of the Scooby Gang put in an appearance, the majority of the action is carried by Willow, initially on her own, and then with Spike.
The two storylines means that the novel remains interesting to the end, and it's good to see a BUFFY novel that doesn't overdo the fight scenes. In fact, my biggest quibble probably seems a minor one, but the authors' overuse of the expression "rolled his/her eyes" eventually proves very frustrating. It got to the stage that every time it appeared, I, err, rolled my eyes. (Sorry, but it's true).
Apart from that, this is one of the better recent novels, and fans of Spike and Willow would probably rank it a notch or two higher. BACK TO THE TOP