Originally written by me for YALSA’s The Hub.
Though the show aired one to two years before most of today’s high school seniors were born, Buffy the Vampire Slayer still has a cult following amongst fans of all ages. I have even heard a child in the children’s section of the local library singing songs from the musical as they browsed books. If you’re like me, a crazy fangirl of the show, you miss it immensely. It had humor, heart, and the characters became like family. It has such a huge following that it, thankfully, has continued in graphic novel form. Fans continue to write fanfiction, attend cons to meet the actors, and in general, keep the Slayer alive. Another way to do this is by reading novels that could easily be set in the same world, or that Buffy (and Giles!) would definitely approve of.
Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The description of this novel even says it’s great for fans of BtVS. When I saw that I KNEW I had read it. I was not disappointed. The main character, Kali, is a normal human girl…most days. On every other day she becomes a finely honed weapon, a demon hunter. On these days she battles hell hounds, demons, and other monsters. On her human days, she simply tries to get through high school life. But when she discovers a student will die in 24 hours, she has to figure out how to save them…as a regular human. This was very reminiscent of BtVS in many ways: the setting, the action, and the dilemmas the main character faces. It also reminded me heavily of the season three episode, Helpless, where Buffy battles a crazed vampire, sapped of her strength. This is perfect for any fan of the show!
In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
This was one of the first YA vampire novels that I read growing up and it absolutely possesses that same gothic quality that many of the BtVS (and Angel) episodes contain. This tells the story of Risika, a 300-year-old vampire. It starts off in modern day where she appears to be living a quiet life, until someone from her past starts following her. The story is told in the present and in flashbacks, much like the episodes of BtVS telling the stories of Angel, Spike, Darla, and Dru. If you like a good vampire story, this is definitely one for you! The best part? It continues on in a series, which brings in witches and other creatures, much like BtVS!
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
This novel is great for fans of BtVS because it has a strong female character, but she also struggles with the path that was chosen for her, without her consent. Kestrel is a general’s daughter and is expected to do one of two things: join the military or get married. Neither of these choices are what she wants and they are things she struggles with throughout the story, very much like Buffy in the season two episodes What’s My Line? Part 1 & Part 2. At the beginning of the novel Kestrel makes a hasty decision on her own, and the rest of the book (and trilogy) shows how her actions echo into her future. Also, if you like a brooding love interest such as Angel or Spike, this book has got you covered with Arin!
Sabriel by Garth Nix
I feel like this book does not get enough recognition for how amazing it is. Perfect for BtVS fans as it contains fantasy, humor, and goes to some fairly dark places. Sabriel, like Buffy, is pushed into a destiny out of her control. She is a necromancer, an Abhorsen, like her father. When he goes missing she must venture into the Old Kingdom, a world of magic, to find him. This novel is full of unexpected characters and twists, much like the show. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and could not put it down. This is another one that continues on into a series, which is still being written, so you get to spend a lot of time with the characters.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Though this novel is about vampires, they are not quite like the ones we meet in BtVS. The vampires in this novel are elite, but they are not powerful and strong. In turn they have dhampir to protect them. Dhampir are humans that have vampire blood running through their veins. Rose is a dhampir to her best vampire friend, Lissa. When Strigoi, vampires that never die, start to hunt Lissa, Rose must train to protect her friend. This is appealing for fans to BtVS because it has a strong heroine that must hone her strength and skills to fight off unknown foes. It also has a lot of interesting folklore and vampire history, much like Giles’s books. And if you love this, you have a whole series AND spin-off series to enjoy!
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
This is technically an adult series, but has high appeal to YA readers. Yelena is set to be executed, but is saved when offered a job as the food taster for the Commander of their land, Ixia. She is kept in line by the chief of security, who daily feeds her a poison and antidote. If she fails to return for the cure, she will die. While she works for the Commander, she discovers many secrets about her world. Yelena and Buffy are similar in that they have to be resourceful to get out of certain situations where brute strength is not the only answer. This series also has a great brooding love interest for the main character, much like Spike or Angel. It also continues in a spin-off series!
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
A nominee for 2017’s Abraham Lincoln Award this novel (and rest of the series) is perfect for BtVS fans. Not only does the novel contain mysticism and mystery, it also has some butt-kicking female main characters. Each novel is told from the point of view of a different teenage girl that was marked by death himself and trained to be an assassin. These books have everything a BtVS lover is looking for: action, adventure, romance, and humor. I could easily see Buffy finding her way into this world, or somehow being connected to it!
MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
This first novel in a series harkens back to the first and second seasons of BtVS. Many of those episodes had evil baddies that showed up in one episode and were defeated by the end, but that did not make them any less scary. In this book, four friends attempt to summon Bloody Mary, but are unaware that her dark backstory has caused her to be full of rage. After summoning her they must be cautious at every turn while they attempt to lock her away. This is definitely a case that the Scooby Gang would have taken on while in high school as well!
The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston
This story (a 2017 Caudill nominee) is as if Willow were to tell the story of Buffy. Siobhan is your typical high school student, when suddenly a young, up-and-coming dragon slayer starts attending her school. They quickly become friends, which in turn ends up with her becoming a part of his dragon slaying entourage, as his bard. Siobhan is more than his bard though, she helps him solve problems and accompanies him on many dangerous missions. This is fantastic for BtVS fans that enjoy the relationships between the characters. It is also great for readers who would like to get more of a point of view from someone that isn’t the main hero. Owen is also similar to Buffy in that he has to accept this legacy that was put upon him, but in turn makes it his own, and chooses not to go it alone.
These novels are some of my favorite for getting through my post-BtVS blues. Have you read any of these? Do you have any novels you would recommend to BtVS fans?
- Tegan Anclade, currently reading The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins