Halloween is less than a week away, and what better way to celebrate all things ghoulish than with a new hardcover tome about the varied villains of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer? Nancy Holder, a major contributor to and author of numerous Buffy tomes, is back with Demons of the Hellmouth: A Guide For Slayers.
Demons is an official, in-universe guide, presented as the hardcover journal of Rupert Giles, pebbled cover, elastic band and all (though no attached bookmark, that would’ve been nice). The pages are laid out so that it appears Giles has taped and pasted pictures of the various foes the Scooby Gang faced, covering everything from Ms. French in Season One all the way to the First Evil from Season Seven. (Sorry BtVS comic book fans, this covers the television seasons only!)
In addition to Giles’ notes, there are handwritten annotations by the Scoobies, as they recall the foes they’ve faced over the years. The effect is surprisingly engaging and makes the book read like a really in-depth clip show.
Holder does a fine job of capturing Giles’ academic, yet oft-bemused, tone, and the annotations, while a bit sappy at times, feel true to the characters. The images used throughout are mostly stills taken from the show, with a few pieces of production art used to great effect (check out The Mayor’s entry!).
The book is broken up into several sections. After wrapping up the mythology of the Slayers (much more succinctly than Season Seven did, I might add), we dive into vampires. It feels like a truly comprehensive section, as everything from the alternate universe Vamp Willow and Xander to series regulars Angel and Spike is covered. Demons are next, and it’s a cornucopia of prosthetic makeup and dimly lit CGI–the best cheese that Buffy had to offer. The stories of their exploits and defeats are what sold the effects during the show’s run and they do so now as well. Though I will say, The Gentlemen are still the creepiest things that Buffy ever spawned, and they get an appropriately enormous jump-scare level photo for their entry. The journal ends with a discussion of the human and other monsters-of-the-week that plagued the Scoobies.
Not only is Demons of the Hellmouth a trip down memory lane (that will likely have you browsing through episodes on Netflix or digging out your DVD box set), but the format allows for a deeper examination of how various villains interconnected throughout the series’ seven-season run. If you’re a Buffy fan, you need this book.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received a copy of this book for review. Opinions are my own.