Written in 2001 by Christopher Golden this book features a story that takes place in the pre-Buffy days when Spike and Drusilla were together and devoted to one another, a demon gives them the task of eliminating the slayers in waiting in order to destroy the Slayers once and for all.
Buffy books are either good or bad, in that respect they are very similar to those written for Star Trek because for every good story, there are a dozen that are either rubbish or tell a story that has largely no point to it. Now Buffy herself, whilst a strong character, is nevertheless a complainer. She bitches almost constantly about her life, her calling, her love life etc, other slayers have given up everything to follow their sacred calling but Buffy Summers wants her own life and will kick demon ass whilst struggling to get her homework done.
What we have to bear in mind in the Buffyverse is that we are seeing some characters that have been alive for a hundred years or more so the majority of these immortals have had lives and adventures that have nothing to do with the Buffy the whiny Vampire Slayer.
Unlike other books in the Buffyverse I have read, this one has nothing to do with Buffy Summers and instead focuses on an adventure starring everyone’s favourite blond haired bad-boy Spike and his bat-shit crazy girlfriend Drusilla.
So let’s take a look at what is going on…
The year is 1940 and Drusilla’s vampire birthday is approaching so Spike decides that he is going to give her Freyja's Strand. The Strand is a necklace which will enable her to see her reflection for the first time since she became a vampire. Spike and Drusilla make an agreement with an ice demon Skrymir, who is in possession of the necklace, that if they travel the world eliminating all of the slayers in waiting and then murder the current Slayer then he will hand over the necklace to them.
Meanwhile the current slayer, Sophie and her Watcher Yanna, are sent to rescue the remaining slayers in waiting. However their lives are complicated by the fact that Yanna has developed an unhealthy obsession with Spike.
If the Sophie fails to protect the slayers in waiting then it could be the end of the Slayers forever.
Before we move on, allow me to give you a little context to the story…so Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row is set after Darla has left to rejoin the Master, Angelus has been cursed with a soul thus abandoning Darla, Spike and Drusilla. Although at this point, neither Spike nor Drusilla know that Angel is no longer evil. This is during the period of their lives when Spike and Drusilla are still very much together and insanely in love. Pretty Maids All in a Row is a terrific book which focuses on the world in the days when the Slayer was a lone warrior who did her duty without question and spent very little time complaining.
The storyline may sound familiar to Buffy fans; in fact Buffy Season 7 had a very similar premise in which The First Evil was trying to destroy the Slayer by eliminating the Potentials (slayers in waiting). Pretty Maids All in a Row was first published in 2001 and it is possible that it was the basis for the story arc of Buffy Season 7 which was aired in 2003 (however that is just speculation on my part).
Sophie is a Slayer who is really only connected to her Watcher. She doesn’t seem to have many friends and does her duty. Unlike Buffy she doesn’t worry about school or dating, she recognises that she has a sacred duty to fight evil and so she fights evil. There are also a couple of references to a physical or sexual attraction between Sophie and Spike (when they are about to fight there is a suggestion that they might be preparing to make love rather than fight). This suggests that perhaps Spike and the Slayers who track him have always had some attraction to one another but it wasn’t until Buffy that a Slayer actually gave into her lust and bedded him.
Unlike many books that focus on Buffy and the reader is forced to read page after page in which she complains about the problems of having a family, friends, dating etcetera there is nothing like that here. In episodes of Buffy I kept thinking that there must have been moments when surly Giles must want to yell at her to go and do her sacred duty like every other Slayer before her and stop being so selfish but nothing like that really happened in the show. Fortunately there are no moments like that here. Sophie is a well trained and dedicated Slayer, and Spike has returned to the vicious monster and dedicated boyfriend that hasn’t been seen since his debut in School Hard.
Author Christopher Holden later went on to write the excellent Lost Slayer books and knows how to write a book that gives the Buffyverse greater depth. Taking Buffy out of the story completely shifts the focus to two very popular bad guys and allows the reader to gain a greater insight into life before Buffy.
It is hard to do Buffy books well, but thankfully this is one of them, and so gets a Thumbs Up. If you are a fan of Spike and Dru and want to see them in their own adventure then I urge you to track this one down beacsue you will not regret it if you do.
7/10 – This is truly an excellent book that gives the reader in insight into Spike and Dru’s life together before they crossed paths with Buffy Summers. It is a lot of fun and I really hope there are other books out there like this one set in the pre-Buffy days, but sadly so far I haven't found any.