Slayer By Keirsten White
A Broken World
After the Sunnydale incident where Buffy had faced the open Hellmouth all magic has been zapped out of the world that Athena and her twin sister Artemis know. The remaining Watchers are cloistered in an old castle with a hidden location, thanks to the aide of a neighboring witch in the village. Their numbers small, it has been a priority to keep the young Watchers trained and educated...just in case, in Keirsten White's Slayer the first in the series paying homage to the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
Athena, or Nina as she is called by her group, has always been the weakest and most downtrodden of the group.
Since the death of her father and the rejection of her mother, Nina has become the Watcher's medic as she isn't powerful enough to train and a house fire had left her stricken with asthma. Always compared to the favored sibling, her twin Artemis is expected to be the savior of the Watchers one day although she hadn't passed the training test either.
When an incident occurs at a friend's home in the village and Nina helps capture a demon, there is a sudden flourish of her powers and sudden the prophetic dreams and the strange way that her body took over to kill a hellhound begin to make sense.
But Nina couldn't be a potential Slayer. Her mother would have known.
Since the passing of their father in duty, their mother had grown colder and more absorbed in the counsel business lacking in her parenting duties of the girls. Since moving into the castle at age thirteen it was clear that their mother was pushing Artemis to be a Watcher presenting her with opportunities that she stifled the chance for Nina to part take in telling her she was too weak. Nina can remember the moment that her mother chose Artemis over her, her twin being the one her mother saved.
She studied them for a long time across the cemetery.
The mother was book-ended at the grave of her husband she had just lost, a Watcher in active duty that had lost his life saving his charge, Buffy- The Chosen One that had gone on to recruit other Slayers to take out the evils of the world around them. The Huntress wasn't safe in a world with more Slayers.
She signaled to the vampire that had come with her to the attack.
As The Huntress rushed the mother the vampire descended on the two young twins staring up at his with Kewpie eyes. Their braided pigtails of a scarlet red bobbed as they kicked and clawed at him, the one twin pulling a stake out of her tiny pink cowboy boot and reaching towards the vampire to stab.
The Huntress couldn't believe it was going down this way. It shouldn't have.
These children of the Watcher couldn't of had any training yet and here they were taking on the vampire.
She would have to plan again an attack on the family that would finally rid them of the next Potential Slayer before her power was discovered.
Nina recalls the events of the cemetery in her dreams but she can never tell which of the two pig-tailed girls she sees are her and which is Artemis. She always assumes that her sister as she had been told her whole life is the strong one. Just as her namesake, Artemis was born to be the protector, the warrior. Nina was happy to let her sister fill this role of expectations so that Nina could sulk in the background unnoticed.
Since the years of training, those that had passed the tests were allowed out of the groups on missions. Nina had missed Leo and his mother.
Although others had teased her for her crush on the boy, Nina was sad to see his absence. It was stranger when he finally returned just days after her own mother had come back to the counsel without a word to her daughters.
While Artemis was allowed special privilege and to work on her mother's secret database for Potential Slayers, Nina knew nothing about her mother's work. Their mother had hardly a word for her and when she did she was keen to point out all of Nina's flaws and the reasons that she couldn't believe that her daughter had been so flawed when the other had shone so brightly.
When the counsel began to identify Nina as a Potential after the events with the hellhound, her mother still had restricted Nina from training and told Nina that she could never be The Chosen One as Buffy had been.
Nina knew the resentment was in part because of their father's loss but she never understood what she had done to make their mother hate her so much.
In secret Nina tried to deal with the demon hostage, only to be found out by Artemis and other Watchers who begged for Nina to stay back and let others handle it but Nina has dreams of another Watcher who is about to be killed and can't allow for someone to be in danger.
Against better judgement she takes after the young woman.
It was a disturbing site, the young woman laying in her two piece pajamas with ducks on them twisted into a position on the floor as if she was strangled. It made Nina think of how her dear friend had almost lost his life in return. Artemis had tried to reason with her that it wasn't a Slayer's place to try to save people but go after the threat. Nina didn't want to be the type of Slayer that put humanity second. She could be a fusion, a Watcher, a Healer, and a Slayer.
Scanning her father's diaries, Nina learned more about her family line than her mother would have ever thought to share. Even beloved Artemis was in the dark about their mother's adoption to a Watcher family after her own birth mother had been a Slayer that had been killed in action.
Their father being a Watcher himself and losing his life in duty was too much for their mother to bear. Finding out that one of her daughters had carried the Slayer demon inside her had been too much and it had broken the woman.
Their mother had always known that it was Nina that had the power, not Artemis, but she had played the counsel for a fool and the twins against either other. Her reasoning was somewhat sound- that Nina would naturally come into her gifts and be able to survive longer, as in the case of the fire; so to compensate their mother had put Nina at a distance and pushed the other twin beyond her limits to get Artemis the chance to survive as well.
To their mother, this was the only way to ensure both girls had made it.
But they argued that she had put them both at a great disadvantage by doing this and endangered both Nina and Artemis in doing so.
Betrayal by her mother and now finding out the truth about Leo and his mother has set up the next novel in the Slayer series. Though nods to the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer series are still there as a guide, Keirsten White makes this spin off all her own, in the way of her retelling of other literature in novels like The Dark Decent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and the Conquer series which re-imagines the Vlad the Impaler as a young woman.
While some Buffy fans might worry what the changes to the universe will mean in later books, so far Slayer wisely hasn't reinvented the wheel and does just enough name dropping of source material to still make it linked to the series but is readable on its own.
The only thing that might be a little distracting is the way White waters down some of the bloody things to make the books still enjoyable for teens, but the idea of a Slayer's battle is still there and will hopefully reach the pinnacle of violence needed to really match the storytelling of Buffy.