‘In Every Generation’ by Kendare Blake: ‘Buffy’ nostalgia infuses every page

Our In Every Generation book review is a spoiler-free discussion of Kendare Blake’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel set years after the show’s original run.

Buffy is one of those shows that has impacted an entire generation and withstood the tests of time. It created a universe in which we’d all like to live (with the protection of a Slayer, of course), and one which is easy to expand upon. There’s no shortage of terrifying new demons or interesting plot twists to make additional stories feel like Buffy did in its heyday.

That’s where In Every Generation comes in. Not only does it speak to those who grew up on the show, but it injects enough of the modern world into the story that it’ll be ripe for, well, the next generation. Blending a little of the old with a little of the new means this book will be a good point of entry for any Slayer wannabe, whether they’ve been around for two years or twenty.

Related: Listen to ReWatchable tackle both Buffy and Angel for our longest round yet!

Frankie Rosenberg isn’t exactly a regular girl—her mom is the strongest witch the world has ever seen, after all, and Frankie has inherited at least some of Willow’s powers. Not to mention her best friend, Jake, is a werewolf, and her Uncle Spike is a vampire with a soul. Oh, and then there’s Aunt Buffy. We all know who she is.

Then tragedy strikes. A Slayer retreat is blown up, and all of the slayers are presumed dead. No one would be particularly worried—Slayers are a hardy bunch, after all—except for the fact that Frankie has been imbued with the Slayer’s strength and fighting reflexes.

All of that would be enough to deal with, except for the fact that there’s a new Big Bad in town calling herself the Countess. Spike isn’t convinced it’s the real Countess, because she’s just a myth, but trouble seems to be brewing, regardless. Frankie and her new Scoobies—Jake, the werewolf; Haley, Slayer Vi’s sister; and Sigmund, a Sage demon—need to get up to speed ASAP.

But Frankie isn’t like Buffy, and it’s going to take every ounce of her newfound strength to even attempt to fill her aunt’s shoes.

The phrase may be overused, but I have to admit that Kendare Blake’s Buffy novel is masterfully crafted. Not only did she have to bring all our favorite characters back to life, but she also had to introduce a brand new Scooby Gang and make us fall in love with each of them, as well. Plus give us a scary villain, plenty of action scenes, and tons of that trademark Buffy the Vampire Slayer banter. And she did it all flawlessly.

If you’re looking for a more objective In Every Generation book review, then you’ve come to the wrong place. I fell hard and fast for this book, and that started with Willow and Spike, both of which feature prominently in the story. It’s like being right back in Sunnydale all those years ago. And while both of them have changed, they’re still the characters we know and love.

Willow will always be Willow—a little weird, a little awkward, and a lot more powerful than anyone would ever expect. Once Frankie was born, she gave up magic (probably for the best), but with the world going topsy-turvy again, she might need to come out of retirement. And no one truly knows what that could mean for her.

Spike is also still very Spike. The blond hair, the long trench coat, the black nails. But he’s also a Watcher now, looking out for his own Slayers’ well-beings. He might be a strange choice for a Watcher (he’s no Giles, after all), but he’s got his own way of doing things, and you know what? He gets the job done. And looks badass while doing it.

Oz is back in the picture, too. All zen werewolf and still driving the Mystery Machine. There’s even mention of Xander and Dawn, and of course, Buffy and Faith. Angel gets a few shout-outs as well, though some people have their prejudices. All in all, In Every Generation has all the hallmarks of the series, starting first and foremost with these characters we know inside and out.

And Kendare Blake knows them front and back, too. I can see their faces, imagine their mannerisms, and hear their voices. It’s not hard to bring them alive in my mind’s eye, partly because the cast and crew did such a good job the first time around, and partly because Kendare just gets it, you know? And that makes writing this In Every Generation book review much easier.

in every generation book review

Where this book really made its impact was with the New Scoobies. Frankie is the new Slayer, and I’m glad she’s nothing like Buffy. She’s a little bit of an answer to the question, “What would it have been like if Willow was the Slayer instead?” but that does a disservice to Frankie because she’s her own person.

She has a little bit of magic (definitely a new skill set for a Slayer) and has grown up around all sorts of beasties (the good, the bad, and the somewhere in between), so this isn’t a foreign world for her. But she’s also not a fighter. Mostly, she cares about the environment and doesn’t mind that she only has one friend. She never expected to be a Slayer, and it shows. And that’s a good thing.

Buffy messed up a lot, but she was also a natural leader. Frankie is used to being in the background, and every fight is a lesson learned. I liked this about her character because it makes her more relatable, and it means the stakes are high every time she goes out on patrol.

It also means she has to rely on her friends. Jake has been around since she was a kid—he’s technically Oz’s cousin, but they have more of an uncle/nephew vibe going on—and while he still needs to lock himself up around the full moon, his werewolf abilities come in handy during the rest of the month.

Hailey is Vi’s little (half) sister, who Spike scooped up and brought to Sunnydale as soon as he learned about the explosion. She’s completely human, but she knows her way around a battle axe, and she’s more than determined to find her sister still alive once they figure out what happened at the retreat. In the meantime, she and Frankie become fast friends, and they’re good for each other—where Frankie softens Hailey edges, Hailey makes Frankie a little sharper on the outside.

Sigmund is also a fresh addition to the cast. He’s half Sage demon, half human, but I’ll let you see what exactly he can do when you read the book. Either way, I feel like In Every Generation is doing what Slayer and Chosen by Kiersten White did: Opening up this world to show us how colorful it can be, and that some demons just want to co-exist in peace with the rest of humanity.

Though I’ll keep my promise about this In Every Generation book review remaining spoiler-free when it comes to the plot points, I do have to mention how much the book feels like a season of the show. We know this series is meant to be a trilogy, but even within the first book there are some chapters where I said, “Oh, this feels like a whole episode in and of itself.”

In fact, the entire novel was so cinematic, I could see it being turned into a movie or a series of its own. There’s talk of a Buffy reboot every few years, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say In Every Generation would be the perfect foundation from which to build—rising from the ground, shiny and fresh, like New Sunnydale itself.

‘In Every Generation’ hit store shelves on January 4, 2022

Buy In Every Generation by Kendare Blake on Disney Books, Bookshop.org, Book Depository, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.

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