Wicked Willow 1: The Darkening

Author: - Yvonne Navarro

Category: - Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Reviewer: - Rox Pebble

What if Evil Willow was never stopped?

This is the bleak first novel in an alternate history trilogy and it is a very good read. This AH trilogy is long overdue, the Buffy/Angel universe is full of AH possibilities to explore in novel form.

Anyway this novel begins and verges off into a new universe seconds from the end of `Villains'. Willow kills Warren, Buffy cries "What did you do?" and then it all changes.

Jonathan and Andrew escape to Mexico with Anya's help and are apparently gone from the Wicked Willow-verse forever. This leaves the depleted Scooby Gang - Anya, Xander, Dawn and Buffy - to try to stop Willow. Giles is taken out of the action early on by Willow's magic, he isn't dead but in his view - he may as well be.

Events are wildly out of control in Sunnydale. There is no Satanic temple raising or broken yellow crayon speeches Instead Giles is a maimed near-alcoholic shell of his former self, Xander and Anya reunite, Dawn shows maturity and Buffy is battered, dispirited and nearly killed by her ex-best friend on a regular basis.

Meanwhile Willow enslaves a coven to empower herself (Amy is not among them) and as she stews in bitterness and rage, she is haunted by Tara. I don't think it is Tara's ghost but rather a psychotic delusion of Willow's - but that is just my theory.

Navarro's exploration of Willow is very good, making sense of her actions and exploring her descent into darkness. Buffy also comes off well, Navarro depicts her well and shows her friendship for Willow. But despite the title of this trilogy the best character is Anya, Navarro goes in depth into her psyche and makes her romantic reunion with Xander rather sweet.

There are two unexpected cameos which should be enjoyed by fans and the book ends on an interesting note.

This is a very good book, it is dark bleak reading and a great start to the trilogy.

Recommended.

P-Con V March 29th/30th 2008

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