Buffy the Vampire Slayer remains one of our forever faves, a whip-smart, wickedly funny, and proudly empowering series that, unlike a lot of your favorite ‘90s pop culture, still holds up. So we’re just fine with the expansion of the “Buffy universe” in the form of both new television ventures and new books — such as Slayer, Kiersten White’s new novel (out next Tuesday in hardback and ebook from Simon Pulse), which introduces us to new slayer Nina. And, per the press release, “Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.”
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We’re proud to present this exclusive excerpt from Slayer:
FROM CHAPTER FOUR OF ‘SLAYER’
We had three mothers, each with a distinct time period.
The first: dream mother.
In my memory, she smells like snickerdoodles.
She sang to us. Read books with pictures of happy things instead of scaly demons. Laughed. I think she laughed, anyway. Whenever I try to picture it, I can’t quite manage to match up sound with image. It’s like watching a silent movie. And the end of the movie is my dad, with his graying mustache and his kind eyes, kneeling to give each of us a hug.
Mom says something to him—what does she say?—then kisses him. We wave as he walks out the door. Mom looks proud and sad all at once and shoos us into the kitchen for cookies.
My dad never came back, and that mom—snickerdoodle mom—was gone too. In a way, Buffy took both of them from me. I never met the Slayer. I don’t even know if she knew we existed. But when my dad died for her, dream mother died too.
The second: ghost mother.
After that night we were attacked in the cemetery, Mom was always there, but . . . she wasn’t. We moved constantly. I can’t remember her working or doing anything.
There were no cookies. There was only the two of us and our mother, hovering. Haunting and haunted. Standing by the window with the curtains drawn, peering out the crack where they didn’t quite meet. We had lost our father, and we lost our mother too. She was a shell of herself. We looked to her for comfort and found only fear. So Artemis and I whispered, played quieter. Hid our stakes in less obvious places so she’d stop taking them away. Figured out how to care for each other so we wouldn’t disrupt her vigil. It wasn’t ideal, but it was okay.
And then everything burned down.
The third: not mother.
After the fire, she stopped being our mother and started being a Watcher. I didn’t realize how odd it was that we had been raised apart from them until we rejoined them in London and I saw how Watcher society functioned. We didn’t even live together as a family anymore. Artemis and I went to the dorms, and my mother had her own apartment in the Council’s wing.
It felt like she was rejecting me again. But maybe part of her decision to switch from being a mother to being a Watcher was so that she didn’t have to face me. We never once talked about why she picked Artemis first. I sometimes thought about forcing it, but in the end, I preferred not knowing. It couldn’t be any worse than what her actual explanation would be for why she left me behind.
I hadn’t died that night, but sometimes, when I was with my mother, it felt like I had. Like I was as missing from her world as my dad was.
Reprinted from “Slayer” by Kiersten White. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ TM & © 2019 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.