Posted on September 25, 2004 by Monica Valentinelli
Written by Jeff Mariotte
Published by Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
When writing a book based on a hit television series, one has to ensure that the characters are accurately portrayed through action and dialogue. Angel: Haunted, written by Jeff Mariotte, sets out to bring the characters from the cult hit “Angel” to life.
Written as one in a series of books, Angel: Haunted had a beginning that was both awkward and difficult to follow. The first few pages were cumbersome due to the language and descriptions. As one reads further, the pacing and language improves dramatically. Instead of reading the words a character speaks, one hears a believable representation of an “Angel” character’s dialogue. The further along in the story, the less noticeable the writing style becomes. This is one sign of an experienced writer who can successfully translate television to print.
The storyline moves in sync with the movement of a typical “Angel” episode. The book takes place in the earlier days of “Angel,” when the team was still formed around Angel Investigations. Fans of Lorne will find him in the book as “The Host.” Gunn, Wesley, Cordelia and Angel make up the rest of the cast. The book fills in some nice character development for Gunn, and explains more about what drives his character. It begins centered on Cordelia and her wishes to become famous. Reality television is the backdrop for something darker that looms on the L.A. horizon. Missing people, strange markings, and black limos all add to the mystery.
The story is set in several, different settings. Cordelia is a contestant on a haunted house reality TV show. Angel and the rest of the cast visit their specific haunts, and are drawn into a sinister plot that, on the surface, sounds all too familiar. Directors for the Angel roleplaying game, after reading this book, will find that the plot and themes presented in Angel: Haunted would make a great template for a game. The length of the campaign could range from one night to several, depending upon how many contestants the Director has. The uniqueness of this particular story translates well to modern day, for this is not merely a typical stay in a haunted house. Directors will delight in watching as their players try to sort reality from television make-believe. There are also a lot of opportunities for non-player characters and guests as well. Overall, the concept of writing a game centered on this particular storyline has all the elements a player would enjoy: crime, supernatural, mystery and lots of bad guys.
The conclusion of Angel: Haunted was written well. You will find yourself caught in the web of themes that cross and cross again. Once the resolution happens, you may wonder whether or not that was an ending you, yourself had written. Mariotte displays a certain amount of ingenuity, in that the book does present some interesting twists without detracting from the popular Angel framework. Storytellers will discover that there are lots of potentials for probable endings.
All in all, the book is a fun read and perfect for an afternoon read.