Tales of the Slayer: Vol. 4
Author: Michael Reaves, Scott Allie, Robert Joseph Levy, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Greg Cox, Kara Dalkey, Jane Espenson, Nancy Holder
Release Date:November 2004
The last collection of short stories was surprisingly the best overall by quite a bit. Although all of the stories shared a similar event (the Cruciamentum, the test a slayer takes at 18 when they are lacking their tricked by their watcher and lacking all powers), the more common thread was stronger characterization and more interesting plots. Here’s how I’d rank them from worst to best.
Sideshow Slayer – A fun story set in a traveling carnival where demons and the supernatural fit in. A few shockingly violent moments also made it memorable.
Alone – This 1800’s story about a slayer returning home took a shocking turn into an abusive parent story that I did not see coming.
Two teenage girls at the mall – A somewhat predictable twist where the story is written from the vampire’s perspective; the conversation between the two parties at the end reinforces why Jane Espensen is the best writer I’ve seen in these books so far.
Undeadsville – I always wondered why they didn’t do a storyline on the tv show about a slayer that was turned into a vampire. This story gets extra points for that reason, and also some nice use of multiple viewpoints.
It’s All about The Mission – one of the more straightforward stories in the set, this one is great for fans of the show by capitalizing on the Principal Wood storyline from the last seasons.
Back to the Garden – A great story set in the 1960’s about a pacifist slayer and the commune as a sanctuary for the supernatural.
Survivors – The watcher in this story (as a traumatized WW1 survivor) and his slayer (as a girl covering the duties of both people) were two of the most compelling characters in any short story so far.
The rule of silence – My favorite non-Buffy story so far, taking place in the Spanish Inquisition a young Jewish girl has to overcome not only the religious zealots of the day but also a Cruciamentum that puts all the others in this book to shame.