Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder (1997)
RATING: 3/5 Stakes
SETTING: First Season
CAST APPEARANCES: Buffy, Giles, Xander, Willow, Cordelia, Joyce, Aphrodesia
MAJOR ORIGINAL CHARACTERS: Samhain (Pumpkin King); Glenn O'Leary (town nutcase); Claire Bellamy (Bronze manager); Nick Daniels (Bronze assistant manager)
"Around Sunnydale, they say a scarecrow saturated with Halloween rain will come alive and slaughter anyone in sight. (Lovely place, Sunnydale.) Buffy's best friends, Xander and Willow, used to think the tale was nonsense-but after a few adventures with Buffy, they're not so sure. Even without a maniacal scarecrow, a Sunnydale Halloween is a truly horrific happening. There are enough zombies and vampires about, ready to party hearty and eat some brains, to keep the Slayer and her friends up all night. And then the rain starts to fall . . ."
The first original Buffy novel sticks closely to the style of early first season episodes. All the basic elements are here: a fight against vampires near the Bronze; Giles in full research mode at the library; patrols and battles at a cemetery, etc. The main plot of Halloween Rain is the emergence of Samhain, the Pumpkin King, a powerful demon that inhabits the body of a scarecrow on Halloween. After disrupting a vampire attack in the basement of the Bronze, Buffy learns of Samhain's existence from Sunnydale's resident madman, Glenn O'Leary. She ends up near a cemetery when legions of zombies attack, and manages to escape them only by running into a cornfield-and there, of course, Samhain makes his move.
The novel is clearly written with a young adult audience in mind, as it's slim and straightforward. Most of the characters are written well, but without the witty dialogue of the television show. Some good moments include a Halloween party with Xander as Indiana Jones, Willow as the X-Files' Scully, and Buffy as a pirate; Giles telling of the 17th Century Irish Slayer Erin Randall; and a scene where Samhain manages to scare Buffy almost to death.
Overall, Halloween Rain is a simple but solid Buffy novel, more of interest now for its nostalgia appeal than for anything else, though it would serve as a good introduction for adolescents unfamiliar with the Buffyverse