I've now written something in the range of 50 reviews of various Buffy the Vampire Slayer books (all on my website at www.geocities.com/jhaeman). My latest review was made easy with the extremely long summary published on the back of the book.
One Thing or Your Mother
Kirsten Beyer (2008)
RATING: 4/5 Stakes
SETTING: Season 2
T.V. CHARACTER APPEARANCES: Buffy, Angelus, Drusilla, Spike, Willow, Principal Snyder, Giles, Joyce, Xander, Cordelia, Larry, Johnathan, Oz, Detective Stein, Detective Winslow, The Mayor, Allan
MAJOR ORIGINAL CHARACTERS: Josh Grodin (demon summoner), Paulina Snyder (Principal's mom), Todd Harter (tutor), Callie (child vamp)
BACK-OF-THE-BOOK SUMMARY: "It's tough being a teenage Slayer. On the verge of failing her junior year--thanks to annoying Principal Snyder, who seems to be acting even stranger than usual lately--Buffy agrees to meet with a tutor. Not helping her studies is the fact that lately she's been exhausted, waking up each morning feeling more tired than she did the night before. To make matters worse, she's tasked with investigating the disappearance of a child . . . a little girl who happens to have gone missing mere hours before a child vampire surfaced in Sunnydale, accompanied by a wheelchair-bound male who fits Spike's description perfectly. Fighting off exhaustion and uneasy at the prospect of staking a child vamp, Buffy learns that Principal Snyder is the target of a sleep-deprivation spell that has taken over Sunnydale. Putting aside her fear that her tutor is out to get her, and hoping that the sleeping spell is affecting both humans and demons, Buffy investigates Snyder's off behavior. She follows him to his childhood home to discover that he has arranged to have his abusive mother banished to the demon dimension. Meanwhile, Drusilla, who has been playing mother figure to the child vampire, is learning how difficult it is to be a parent. As sleep takes hold of the citizens of Sunnydale, Buffy beings to realize that unless she breaks the spell soon, the nightmare is just beginning."
Whew! The summary on the back of the book is almost as long as the book itself! With such a thorough description of the plot already provided, I can move right into some commentary. One Thing or Your Mother is set in Buffy Season Two and the author has paid close attention to continuity and included several minor characters from the show, like Larry, Allan, and police detectives Winslow & Stein. The revelation that Principal Snyder had to make a deal with The Mayor to have the abusive Mrs. Snyder sent to a demon dimension is done quite well and adds some strange sympathy to the figure of Principal Snyder. The subplot involving Drusilla deciding to be "mother" to a vampire child is also well-written and includes excellent portrayals of Drusilla's fickleness, Angelus' volatility, and Spike's ability to show tenderness as surprising times. Overall, the book has a creepy, dark feel that is missing from too many Buffy novels. It's one worth picking up.