Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Carnival Of SoulsNancy Holder
Gallery Books
2006

There’s something troubling about Professor Caligari’s Traveling Carnival. Perhaps it’s that on one can recall the arrival of its hard-to-miss caravan of old-style wagons, countless performers, and horse-drawn carts. Maybe it’s the creepy Calliope music that tirelessly beckons visitors. Let’s face it, an enigma that chooses Sunnydale nearly guarantees it’s up to more than wholesome family entertainment. After a visit to the carnival’s Hall of Mirrors, a once-shy pair of homely sophomore twins parades the halls of Sunnydale High like diva supermodles on a runway. Intuiting the twins’ abrupt personality change as more than a self-confidence boost, Buffy–joined by Angel, Giles, and the rest of the Scoobies–decides to investigate the suspicious carnival firsthand. But soon it’s apparent that the price of admission is higher than she imagined. Those who enter the carnival’s attractions exit…changed. Each of the gang soon shows extreme displays of vice. Willow is wracked with envy. Cordelia’s greed consumes her. Xander unleashes his gluttony. Angel reveals a lusty new persona. And a dark anger rises in Giles. But it’s Buffy’s now-blinding pride that threatens to overpower her, and in the process destroy those she loves…

It should come as no surprise that I am a fan of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer television series. I own all seven seasons, which I tend to watch in its entirety every year or so. I consider it a near-perfect and cleaver deconstruction of the horror genre, perfectly mixing thrills, drama and humor in one 42-minute show (excluding commercial breaks). I have yet to check out the so-called “Season Eight” comics to continue getting my post-series fix, but when I ran into a couple of novels on clearance sale, I couldn’t resist and picked ’em up, thinking that they will expand my enjoyment of one of my favorite shows.

Carnival Of Souls was the first of the three that I’ve read. I want to preface this by saying that I did realize, getting into this, that these books were technically written for the young adult crowd. I didn’t crack this open expecting something written for people like me in mind. Still, even knowing this, I found the writing style of this Nancy Holder to be something akin to Junior High-level fan fic, barely a step or two above that of Stephanie Meyer. The only difference being that I didn’t feel like my intelligence was constantly being insulted while reading this. Still, I did find myself pausing more often than usual, just to let the twinge of less-than-good writing pass.

As to the story: Carnival Of Souls takes place around the early part of the second season, before Angel lost his soul and the wackiness ensued, but some time after Halloween, as the character Ethan Rayne factors in here. And sorry about geeking all over all of you, there. Anyway, this is your standard “Something Wicked This Way Comes” type setting, in that there’s a supernatural carnival that uses the Seven Deadly Sins to lure in the Sunnydale townfolk for their SOOOOOUUUULS! I also realize that I just referenced a much better book in this review. I do not apologize for this.

As a novel set in the Buffy-verse, Carnival Of Souls gets a good, solid “meh”. The story played out like a filler episode, the writing style was embarrassingly annoying, and all reading this did was make me wish I watched the episodes instead. Still, not the worst thing I’ve read.

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