In Review: Demons of the Hellmouth: A Guide for Slayers

A "Must Have" item for all Buffy fans. Recommended.

Demons of the Hellmouth: A Guide for Slayers by Nancy Holder

Published by Titan Books, September 29, 2015. Hardcover of 152 pages at $25.00.

The cover: A faux black leather cover has a small Buffy the Vampire Slayer logo at the top, in the middle is an upside down pentagram with the Buffy B in the center, and below that is the title of the book, with Giles’ name at the bottom. It looks as though the Watchers have got a professional publishing house to put out so fine a book. Seeing the show’s logo on this black cover with a blood red pentagram in the middle had me hearing the music from Nerf Herder even before I opened the book. Overall grade: A+

The premise: From the back cover, “After the fall of the Watcher Council, and the defeat of The First, Rupert Giles was determined to use experiences from his seven years in Sunnydale to educate the New Slayers. He pulled together various notes and papers, including excerpts from his Watcher’s Diary, to form a new handbook and field guide: Demons of the Hellmouth. This is Giles’s original copy and contains pages annotated by Buffy, Faith, Willow, and Xander, It has passed through many hands since the Battle of Hellmouth. And now, Slayer, you hold it in yours. Are you ready to be strong?” At the end of the television series, several young women were granted the ability of Slayers, so it makes sense that Giles would be obligated to create a handbook of what they might encounter as they go out to “save the world.” This doesn’t include any input from the comic books, and I’m fine with that. I’m hoping to have a trip down memory lane with the bads and see what Giles and the others say about them. Overall grade: A

The characters: Rupert Giles is the author of this text, and he gives the dictionary response one would expect from a Watcher. He’ll occasionally offer some handwritten notes about how concerned he was for Buffy and her friends as they fought the beast, punctuated with some heavy emotion due to his concern for his young Slayer. Buffy Summers, the Slayer, offers commentary, often about how difficult a demon was to kill or to offer encouragement to Giles about a situation that arose not being his fault. Willow Rosenberg, a teenage witch and Buffy’s BBF, also adds bits of encouragement and thanks for Buffy’s assistance in taking down the Big Bads. Xander Harris is the only non-enhanced member of the Scoobies, and his comments are usually apologies for his actions or some thinly veiled sarcasm. His comments are pretty funny. Faith Lehane is a Slayer who was activated when Kendra Young, another slayer, was killed. Faith is an intense person, and her commentary matches her personality. Author Nancy Holder makes each of these individuals’ voices sound true to their television counterparts. Half the fun of this book is encyclopedia entries by Giles, the other is the commentary from the characters. Overall grade: A+ 

The photographs and art: This is a sensational collection of images that can be used to identify any of the creatures that appeared on Buffy. What’s really impressive is that the demons are sorted into easy to thumb through categories (vampires, Demons, Other Forces of Darkness). So, if one can’t remember the specific type of demon that was in an episode or the character’s name, they could be identified quickly by the clear picture of them from the episode. If pictures aren’t available, artwork from Jean Baptiste-Monger, Todd McIntosh, and John Vulich show the characters in all their, horrific, glory. Looking at this menagerie, in one book, sparked a lot of memories of the episodes they appeared in and created the urge for me to go back and watch them. Overall grade: A+

The final line: If you’re a fan of Buffy, this is a must have item. It’s the perfect book to have by your side as you’re watching an episode or to settle arguments among you and your vampire friends. It’s an educational and entertaining read that makes me wish for more new Buffy tales. Christmas is coming, so what better way to celebrate the holiday than by giving the gift of the Hellmouth? Recommended. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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