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Book: “In Every Generation” by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: Disney-Hyperion, January 2022
Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eBook from the publisher.
Book Description: Frankie Rosenberg is passionate about the environment, a sophomore at New Sunnydale High School, and the daughter of the most powerful witch in Sunnydale history. Her mom, Willow, is slowly teaching her magic on the condition that she use it to better the world. But Frankie’s happily quiet life is upended when new girl Hailey shows up with news that the annual Slayer convention has been the target of an attack, and all the Slayers—including Buffy, Faith, and Hailey’s older sister Vi—might be dead. That means it’s time for this generation’s Slayer to be born.
But being the first ever Slayer-Witch means learning how to wield a stake while trying to control her budding powers. With the help of Hailey, a werewolf named Jake, and a hot but nerdy sage demon, Frankie must become the Slayer, prevent the Hellmouth from opening again, and find out what happened to her Aunt Buffy, before she’s next.
Get ready for a whole new story within the world of Buffy!
Review: Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for sending me an eBook copy of this novel!
It’s so funny, when the shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” ended I never really went back to revisit them. I wrote a hell of a lot of fan fiction about my favorite characters, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a full rewatch. This is odd because “Buffy” is a show that had a huge impact on me as a teen for a litany of reasons, but between dissatisfaction with some of the way the stories ended and the fact that Joss Whedon is a massive prick, actually getting back into my “Buffy” love has been pretty much sidelined until the past year or so. Whether it was watching “Cobra Kai” and seeing striking parallels between bad girl Tori and my favorite dark slayer Faith, or getting books at ALAAC that were part of the “Buffy” universe, 2022 kind of brought back some of that love. So when I was approached to read Kendare Blake’s new Buffy books, starting with “In Eery Generation”, I went in with an open mind, because I like Blake as an author and I’ve been feeling extra nostalgic. That said, I was not prepared for how much I was going to enjoy “In Every Generation”, the first book in her Frankie Rosenberg series. Guys. I REALLY LIKED THIS BOOK! I was transported back to when the whole family would watch “Buffy” and then my high school best friend Blake would call to dissect the episode!
There is always a bit of a risk when a franchise is rebooted for a new generation, and given that “Buffy” ended almost twenty years ago (oh GOD I’m getting old) it may have seemed odd that suddenly we are getting a lot of new content that stems from our favorite vampire slayer. It doesn’t really help that Buffy Summers’s creator Joss Whedon has been exposed as a total shithead in recent years. But Blake takes a job that could have been VERY difficult and makes it seem so easy, in that not only does she effectively capture the pure snarky, heartfelt, and very 2000s essence of “Buffy”, but she also creates new characters that feel real, believable within the world, and makes them just as likable and able to hold their own against old favorites. I really, really loved Frankie Rosenberg, the daughter of Willow who has been awakened as the first Slayer-Witch after an attack on a gathering of slayers that may have left Buffy, Faith, et al dead. We have familiar call backs to Buffy’s own original journey through Frankie and her new group of Scoobies (such as her best friend Jake Osbourne, teen werewolf and cousin to Willow’s ex-boyfriend Oz, and Hailey, a human girl with a missing slayer sister), but Frankie is wholly different from Buffy and really feels like a well thought out person and character. I wholly believed her as an awkward teenage girl who grew up around some of Sunnydale’s best and brightest combatants against evil, and also liked that there was a certain Gen Z flair brought to her character I also liked how Blake taps into vampire lore beyond the “Buffy” stuff, as Frankie may or may not be gearing up to fight against Countess Elizabeth Báthory, notorious Hungarian murderess who, in this, may or may not be a vampire. Blake has used historical events for inspiration before in her horror fiction, vampire fiction no less, and I really liked how it worked here too. It makes the stakes (hurr hurr) higher and it feels more interesting than just having it be Dracula or something (yes, that is a read, if you know, you know). Frankie is just so likable, her friends are adorable too, and I am wholly eager to follow then through this trilogy.
But here is the thing that really sold it for my elder millennial self: BLAKE HAS BASICALLY SHOWCASED A FEW OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS FROM THE SHOW AND MADE THEM EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED THEM TO BE! We all know what a big Spike fan I am thanks to my review for William Ritter’s “Bloody Fool for Love”, and I have very high standards and expectations and hopes for any interpretation of my favorite snarky ensouled vampire. Blake has made him SO, SO EXCELLENT!! She has his voice down, she gives him a lot of really fun things to do, and she really knows how to tap into his more vulnerable sides by making him Frankie’s Watcher (with full school librarian aspects and everything, much to his chagrin) and making him care for her like a daughter. I also really loved Willow in this, as she is very much Willow but with a motherly bent, but also a woman who has been thrust back into a magical role that she had been limiting because of her past with dark magic getting out of control. And the one that surprised me the most but also made me SO happy was seeing that Oz is here!! This surprised me a bit because he left in Season 4 and was barely ever mentioned again, but I always had a soft spot for him because Seth Green was the reason I started watching “Buffy” in the first place. Blake expertly taps into the Willow and Oz connection without erasing the fact that Willow is a lesbian, but still keeps their care for each other feeling very real even if platonic. Honestly, everything Blake did with these characters, be it their interpretations or the backstory she built to get from the “Angel” finale to here (I’m fine with erasing the comics canon), made it feel so, so perfectly “Buffy”. Hell, she even limited Xander’s role, and as someone who has never liked Xander (don’t even get me started, I could do a TED talk) but understands why he kind of needs to be here, I was very okay with the part he did play. If Faith shows up as the series continues, I will be on cloud nine. I WANT TO SEE WHAT SHE DOES WITH FAITH. And I, of course, want to see Buffy. But I appreciate that Blake is holding off a bit. Frankie needs to grow into her own thing without THAT weight on her shoulders, so I will bide my time for Buffy to show up. Because she has to.
Overall I super, super enjoyed “In Every Generation”. I am SO amped to see where we go from here, and I am so happy that Kendare Blake has taken on a universe near and dear to my heart and continued it so well. “Buffy” fans old and new need to seek it out.
Rating 9: Boy did this hit every single “Buffy” note that I ever hoped for. So good to see an old favorite in good hands.
“In Every Generation” is included on the Goodreads lists “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and “Countess Elizabeth Báthory – Fiction and Non-Fiction”.