Buffy, Oz, and Angel are Europe-bound, only they're not flying any airlines. They're traveling limbo's "ghost roads" in search of Jacques Regnier. Jacques is the sole heir of the dying Gatekeeper whose Boston mansion is the supernatural barrier restraining thousands of the world's monsters. The evil Sons of Entropy will do anything to destroy the gate -- even if it means trading the power-laden Spear of Longinus to the wicked vampires holding Jacques.
Back home, the ghost ship Flying Dutchman has set sail for Sunnydale, determined to shanghai new crewmen -- dead or alive. For Willow, Xander, Cordelia, and Giles, it's an ocean of trouble, especially when the monstrous Kraken reemerges with a vengeance.
But everyone's assistance will be needed once Buffy locates Jacques, and uncovers the shocking plans the Sons of Entropy have already placed in motion -- a plan that, if successful, will destroy the world and create a horrible new realm ruled by monsters.
About the Author
Nancy Holder has published more than 200 short stories and seventy-eight books, including the New York Times bestselling Wicked series. She lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle, and far too many animals. Visit her at Nancy Holder.com.
Read an Excerpt
The ghost roads.
A place of madness.
A limbo, a vacuum of nothingness: no sound, not even Buffy's gasps of shock, no light, just a dull gray that formed no boundary, met no horizon. No heat, no cold. Simply...nothing.
Oz and Angel had tried to prepare her for the terror of the experience, but Buffy Summers, the Chosen One, knew now that there was no way to prepare. By instinct and by training, vampire slayers fought against -- against a target, an enemy. While every cell in her body screamed at her to defend herself, there was no enemy to focus on. And yet she sensed overwhelming danger.
Fists clenched, she took a breath and calmed herself. She released the tension from her body, dangling her arms at her sides. As contrary as it was to everything she knew, the only way to conquer this place was to do nothing. The only defense was passivity. She had to find a way to accept the lack of form and structure, the storm-colored, endless gray, and know that it was...what it was.
It was the ghost roads.
As soon as Buffy had the thought, she felt solid ground beneath her boots. Everything snapped into focus and she heard a strange shushing sound. She blinked and saw Oz and Angel standing beside her in their travel clothes -- Angel in black jeans, a black turtleneck, and a duster, with a duffel bag slung over one shoulder, Oz in a flamingo-pink bowling shirt, jeans, and a denim jacket, with a canvas backpack -- both of them looking at her with deep concern.
The sight of Angel's dark, deep-set eyes was like a steadying rock as he put his hand on her shoulder and said softly, "Buffy, are you okay? Are you withus?"
Awkwardly she moved her head, feeling something like a puppet minus vital strings. "That'd be a yes," she said uncertainly. "Unless you're figments of my imagination."
Both Angel and Oz visibly relaxed. She wondered how she had appeared to them during the time she hadn't been able to see them. They had both traveled the ghost roads before, and it made sense that they would be able to adjust to it faster than she. Oz had been the first, going to Sunnydale to retrieve Angel when they needed him for the Ritual of Endowment at the Gatehouse. When he and Angel had returned to the house together, Angel's face was smeared with bloody tears, shed for someone here, someone who walked the ghost roads.
Buffy wasn't sure who she herself might see.
Then she snapped her gaze left, right, and tensed. An aura of menace wrapped around her, stealing in like a coastal summer fog. It caressed her cheek and touched her heart. It chilled her to the core, and she shivered.
"Something's here with us." She assumed a fighter's stance. "Something evil."
Oz said, "I gave this part a lot of thought. I think it's the shadow of death." He cocked his head at Buffy and put his hands in the pockets of his denim jacket. "Interesting. When the shadow crossed my path, I wanted to wander off the road and go to sleep. Give in. Seemed peaceful. To you, it's dangerous. You want to fight it."
Because she is a Slayer, came a voice. As I was.
All around Buffy, the gray dissolved into a blinding white flash. The road beneath her feet crumbled into dust, white and searing through her boots. She covered her eyes, blinking, as crimson glowed on her retinas. She remembered Angel's tears of blood and wondered, briefly, if they had been tears at all.
Slowly she opened her eyes, squinting through the afterburn.
Before her stood a barefoot girl about her age, in a long white robe knotted at each shoulder. It was covered with dried blood. The girl was chalk white, her eyes almost black, and her deep red hair tumbled am her shoulders like a waterfall.
She stood alone against a field of black, her outline quite distinct. Buffy had the feeling that if she reached but her hand to the girl, she would touch solid flesh. But there was a strange quality about her, something ethereal, otherworldly. Something that spoke of a land of ghosts. She raised a hand and extended it toward Buffy. Slayer, know me. I am of your house.
"Then you must be one of the Southern Summers," Buffy retorted. "Our side of the family tends toward blonds. She cleared her throat and asked, far more seriously, "Why are you here?"
I was a Vampire Slayer, like you.
Though the girl's lips moved, it was as if a thousand people were speaking. Buffy glanced around and saw brief, blurred images of faces and bodies. People. Some stared at her, some averted their gazes. Many wept. Others were whispering, laughing, almost crazily.
When those faded, others took their place. There was a vast multitude of them. The dead who still wandered, seeking journey's end. Blurring and fading, like a great creature breathing. Like hopes rising and ebbing.
Angel stiffened, took her hand, and squeezed hard. Buffy searched the crowd to see what he saw. The only face that remained distinct for her was the dead girl's.
Buffy glanced at Oz, who in turn looked back at her. He said softly, "What do you see? Who are you talking to?"
"What do you see?" she asked.
He shrugged. "No one I know." Then he lowered his voice and added, "But the last time I was here, I saw Kendra."
Buffy frowned. Was this where dead Slayers ended up? After all the struggle and the relentless fighting, the nothing world of the ghost roads was what lay ahead?
"Why are you here?" Buffy asked the girl again.
The girl raised her chin as tears welled in her eyes. But she wasn't sad; by the set of her jaw and the pulsing vein in her neck, Buffy realized she was seething with anger.
I was careless. There was a lad I liked. I thought he was just a stable boy, a nothing. He betrayed me to Fulcanelli and his devils. She raised her chin as the voices emanating from her mouth whispered and echoed the name, Fulcanelli. He was one of them.
"Fulcanelli," Buffy said slowly.
"The Sons of Entropy. He founded them, acted as their first leader," Angel supplied. "Giles read about them in the Gatekeeper's grandfather's diary. The first Gatekeeper, Richard Regnier, was a rival of Fulcanelli's in the court of the French king, Francis I. Fulcanelli engineered Richard's fall from favor, and they hunted each other all over Europe." He looked curiously at Buffy. "What's going on? What do you see?"
So she and she alone could see the dead Slayer. That creeped Buffy. What was the reason each of them saw different dead people?
"What's your name?" Buffy asked.
Maria Regina served me in my lifetime.
"I'm looking at Maria Regina," Duffy told Angel. "Fulcanelli killed her." She looked at the dried blood. "With a gun, I'm guessing."
A knife. I was murdered in the year of Our Lord 1539.
And she had been here ever since? Buffy shuddered. Four hundred sixty years of wandering the ghost roads but never reaching a destination, not heaven, not hell. Just nothing. So not what she wanted in an afterlife.
I was called. To warn you, Slayer.
"By the Gatekeeper?" Buffy asked.
I know not. She shrugged in the exact way Buffy shrugged. That distinctive Buffy gesture was something Xander had pointed out to Buffy just the other day, so now she noticed it.
"Warn me about what?"
Death walks these roads with you. It would be better for you to turn back.
Buffy scowled at her. "And you call yourself a Slayer?"
I was killed.
Buffy huffed and gave a short little laugh. "Well, I don't intend to get killed."
Then turn back.
"Angel," Buffy said, "do you know how to change the channel?"
But his attention was elsewhere. He was staring in the distance, his eyes lidded, a strained expression on his face. In his black duster and turtleneck, he reminded her of a sailor longing for the sight of land.
"Angel, what is it?" she asked quietly.
He shook his head. "Nothing. I thought I saw someone." He returned her intense gaze. "But I didn't."
"Jenny," she said slowly.
He looked away. "Yes."
He was tormented by the memory of her death, which was exactly the way Jenny Calendar's Gypsy clan, the Kalderash, wanted it. When, as the evil vampire Angelus, he had killed a beautiful Kalderash Gypsy girl, the Gypsy shaman restored Angelus's soul to him, along with the knowledge of every foul act, every drop of blood that stained his hands. Then he was Angel, the only vampire to possess a soul, perpetually remorseful, finding no peace...until he lay in the arms of Buffy. There was love, happiness, and bliss...the very things the Gypsies swore always to deny him. So his soul was ripped away once more, until Jenny died trying to restore it one last time.
Buffy tenderly touched his cheek as sympathy and longing swept through her. They could never be together in that way again, never express the love they still felt for each other. It was over. It had to be over. There was no choice.
As there was no choice for Angel but to bitterly regret everything he had done and accept with as much grace as he could manage everything that had been done to him.
He gritted, "It's all right."
Buffy slowly lowered her hand and turned back to Maria Regina, the dead Slayer.
But she was gone.
"Hello?" Buffy called.
Then Oz said, "Whoa."
The space around Buffy, Angel, and Oz filled with wafting as the dead rushed toward them, arms extended, hands open. In rows they came, wave after wave of indistinct bodies and faces, silver tears coursing down their cheeks.
Help us. Show us the way out, they pleaded, crushing against each other in their anxiety to get close to the three travelers. Free us.
"You hear that?" Oz asked, as the three backed away. "Intense."
"Loud and clear," Angel affirmed.
Oz looked at Buffy. "What do we do?"
Angel said softly, "Walk away. There's nothing else we can do. Not today."
Buffy bit her lower lip. Much as she hated to admit it, Angel was right. This was not their battle.
The wailing rose as the three turned their backs on the sorrowful dead.
The shushing noise returned, like surf or...
"A car," Buffy said. "Look. We made it."
She pointed to a distant night landscape, a boxy black car wound along a country road.
Angel said. "Welcome to England."
Rupert Giles felt mortally sorry for Joyce Summers, who sat in an overstuffed chair opposite the couch in the living room on a brilliant mid-afternoon in her home in Sunnydale, the sun splashing the walls like egg-yellow paint. On the coffee table an astounding array of junk food, courtesy of one Xander Harris, was being devoured by same, while Willow and Cordelia sipped their iced teas and nodded at every word Xander said.
The Slayer's mother was clearly terribly confused about what was going on and where her daughter was at the moment. And Xander, unfortunately, was not helping.
"Okay, Mrs. S., one more time," Xander said, leaning forward and spreading his fingers, as if he were about to wade knee-deep into his explanation. "We went to this place called the Gatehouse. This old guy -- and we are talking old, not just Giles-old -- "
"He's, like, a hundred and forty," Cordelia piped up, "and he looks terrible. I mean, if you even tried a chemical peel, all his skin would, like, peel off." She made a face.
Xander looked exasperated as he turned to her. "Which is the point of a chemical peel, no?"
"Not down to your bones. Not a skull-peel. Eew." Cordelia folded her arms. "And you should have bought fat-free potato chips. There's nothing on this table I can eat."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Joyce said, rising. "Let me see -- "
"Please, Mrs. Summers. Joyce," Giles said kindly. "We don't need refreshment." Which was not entirely true, judging from the frowns the others gave his words. He himself had been so concerned about what was happening that he had not been able to eat much since being released from hospital back in New York.
He was also very worried about Micaela Tomasi, the beautiful young Watcher who had flirted with him at the librarians' convention, then revealed her identity to him while be was in hospital. She'd brought him a volume of Sherlock Holmes and a huge bouquet of flowers.
Now she was missing, and presumed dead. Many Watchers were, these days. If she was dead, it was a terrible pity. And for him, another loss to mourn.
Xander, Cordelia, and Giles had just returned days late from their supposed "history competition" in Boston. There would be hell to pay, elaborate explanations to be made, and, possibly, the necessity for the Watcher of the current Slayer to find a new job. An unsettling prospect, to say the least. Sunnydale was not exactly a bustling metropolis, and new employment such as would suit Giles's requirements -- that it be solitary, and easily accessible for Buffy -- would be difficult to find.
"Well, the Doritos are low-fat," Xander offered. "And the cheese balls are little."
Cordelia shot him a look. "Want to talk about little?"
Xander drew himself up and said, "Hey."
Willow rolled her eyes.
Giles hastened to soothe over the moment. "What I believe Xander is trying to explain is that for centuries, the Masters of the Gatehouse, always one of the Regnier line of sorcerers, have been collecting and binding the monsters and demons that escape from breaches into the Otherworld, a sort of other dimension."
"Like the Hellmouth?" Joyce asked, looking dazed.
Giles was pleased. "Very much so. Sunnydale sits upon the Hellmouth, and it both attracts and disgorges various and sundry manifestations of the dark forces of evil. But there are a great many things and people and places which are believed to be myths, and yet also did once exist on earth. All the things which this world doesn't have room for in its collective imagination -- legends and extinct species, abominations and such -- they all exist in the Otherworld. But from time to time, there is a breach in the barrier between there and here, and they escape.
"It is the role of the Gatekeeper to capture these escapees and bind them into rooms in his endless home."
"And it's such a smashing little madhouse," Xander drawled in a fake British accent. "Just loaded to the gills with wicked bad juju."
Joyce blinked her deep blue eyes. "Where does he keep them all?"
"It's astonishing," Giles answered, warming to the subject. "His house is magickal, you see, and there are thousands of rooms into which he binds all these many diabolical creatures. The house shifts according to the dominant personality within its walls. It's fascinating."
"More like scary," Willow offered. She leaned forward and plucked up a handful of cheese balls. "They're little," she said to Cordelia.
"You'll balloon," Cordelia warned her. "A couple nibbles here, a couple there..."
"Where?" Xander asked sassily, raising and lowering his brows at her.
"Stop it," Cordelia said, sighing at Joyce, as if to say, Can you believe this?
Buffy's mother nodded slowly. "And something got out of the Gatehouse."
"A whole lot of somethings," Xander cut in. "See, the heir to the Gatehouse got kidnapped, and if Buffy doesn't get him back to the Gatehouse before the old man croaks, well, you can probably say good-bye to Family Fun Evening at the Pitch 'n' Putt."
"Oh," Joyce said slowly.
Giles pushed his glasses up. He was tired, and to put a word in edgewise was more tiring still. He owed it to Joyce.
"I must tell you, the world is in grave danger, and Buffy, Angel, and Oz may be its last hope."
"How new," Cordelia said.
"How different," Xander added.
Willow sipped her tea.
"Seriously," Giles insisted. "And the Hellmouth has been badly compromised. All sorts of terrible things have emerged from it. They're held at bay thanks only to Willow's excellent binding spells -- " he smiled in Willow's direction as she sat up straighter and preened a bit -- "but I'm not sure how long they'll last. In short, perhaps it would be best if you got out of Sunnydale for a time."
Joyce looked shocked. Then she said, "We live here."
Giles inclined his head. "Fair enough. But Buffy -- "
And then it happened.
There was a low rumbling very like an earthquake, As everyone jumped to their feet and hurried to the doorways in the room -- thank goodness for California's community earthquake preparedness training -- the walls of the house began to shimmy, then to shake violently. A crack ran diagonally from the upper lefthand side of the window behind the couch all the way across the opposite side. The coffee table bounced up and over, scattering Xander's junk food everywhere.
Joyce fell to the floor, bumping her head. The room went pitch black, and for a moment, she thought she was losing consciousness. Then, as her eyes adjusted the sun shifted behind the curtains, casting au eerie glow over the tense faces in the room.
"Look," Cordelia said, pointing.
Something dark formed in the floor, a blackness darker than anything Joyce had ever seen. It collected the wan sunlight, and yet she could still make it out on the carpet. It looked like a puddle of shiny tar.
A high, frigid wind whistled through the house, so loud Joyce had to cover her ears. Books and knick knacks slammed against the wall.
"Willow," Giles called.
Buffy's redheaded friend got to her knees and pointed at the puddle as it began to rise into the air,
"Hurry, Will," Xander said.
"To the gods I give supplication, and all deference, and honor," Willow said in a loud, booming voice.
The black circle began to rotate so that it now hung vertically in the center of the room. The air around it seemed to shimmer like a pool of water broken by a stone or the movements of life beneath the surface.
"Snap it up!" Cordelia shouted,
Willow raised her other arm. "Pan, hear my plea."
"What's happening?" Joyce cried.
"It's a breach," Giles explained. Running might be wise."
Joyce stayed rooted. "You aren't running. And neither are they."
"And therefore, and henceforth, with all the power of the Old Gods, I bind thee!" Willow shouted. She threw back her hair and raised a fist at the puddle.
It contracted like the iris of an eye exposed to light, and then it disappeared. The wind died down, then stopped. The rumbling ceased.
Xander groaned. "Twelve dollars and sixteen cents' worth of fat-laden tasty treats down the drain."
"That was close, Willow," Cordelia said sternly.
Willow nodded and made a face. "I was caught off guard."
Buffy's Watcher smoothed back his hair and pushed up his glasses. It was a habit of his that Joyce now found oddly comforting, a reassurance that she hadn't just gone completely insane.
"That was a breach," she guessed. "A portal." Her heart was pounding so hard she was surprised she wasn't having a heart attack.
"Yes. What we've been trying to explain." Giles regarded the area where the circle had appeared with obvious apprehension. "Willow successfully bound it."
"Well, good," Joyce said uneasily, avoiding the area as she moved to pick up the mess on the floor. Giles dropped to his knees to help her, clearing his throat meaningfully as the kids stood by. At once Willow grabbed an overturned bowl and started gathering up the vast array of cheese balls and potato chips. She sighed softly and handed a broken terra-cotta statuette of a donkey to Joyce, who cradled it gently. Perhaps the girl knew that Buffy had bought this for Joyce on Olvera Street, a touristy Mexican shopping district back in Los Angeles, many years ago.
"Well, yes, the thing is," Giles said, coming up beside her with a double handful of spilled food, "Willow's done this spell many times all over Sunnydale, and what we've discovered of late is that the spells may not be permanent. They are overtaxed, shall we say, and there's no telling if this breach will reopen. Or if so, when."
"Oh." Joyce gazed uneasily at the spot.
"And so, I must restate my suggestion that if you feel you can't leave Sunnydale, nevertheless you simply must leave this house."
Joyce frowned at him. "What if Buffy calls?"
"Call forwarding," Xander said. "We have a guest room." He looked at the others. "So we tell people they've got roaches. They're fumigating." He smiled at Joyce. "With bunk beds and a desk lamp shaped like a cowboy boot."
"Thanks, but I don't think so." Joyce gazed down at the donkey. "I need to be here. This is Buffy's home."
"Buffy would not want you to be in danger," Giles said.
"Well, I don't want her to be in danger, either. But she has to be. And she's my daughter. So I guess I have to be, too."
With that, she burst into tears. She couldn't help herself. She was so terribly, terribly frightened for her daughter.
"I'm sorry," she said. "It's just that, why does she have to do this until she dies?"
"If you please," Giles said to Buffy's friends. They stared at each other, then shuffled out of the room.
Then Giles did something for which Joyce was unprepared. He took her into his arms and laid her head on his shoulder.
"Joyce, I know it's difficult," he said, and suddenly, they were very alike, she and this man who had shouldered the burden of knowing that Buffy was a Vampire Slayer, and had kept that secret from Joyce for two years. She sometimes hated him for it even though she understood the reason: her ignorance had allowed Buffy to do what she had to without moments like these.
"When I was her age, I thought I might like to be an archaeologist," she said, her voice muffled against his shoulder.
"Really? I was, for a time," he said. "But I had something else to do. Something more important."
"You were called to be Buffy's Watcher."
She pulled away from him. "And I'm her mother. I guess what we want doesn't really matter. We have to help her." She took a deep breath. "Help her survive."
"Yes." He looked at her steadily. "I wish it weren't so, but it's true."
Tears spilled down her cheeks. "When you have a baby, you have so many hopes and dreams. You never want them to be sad or hurt. Just wrap them in cotton wool and keep them safe forever. I can't help but feel that I've failed her in some way."
"You haven't. She loves you so much." He smiled gently. "She's always going on about your chocolate chip cookies. I must say, they are quite delicious."
"I'll make some tomorrow," she said. "I'll have them ready in case she comes home." Then she managed a smile. "And I'll make a double batch."
"Triple?" Xander said from the doorway.
Joyce laughed. This boy in his baggy shirts corduroy pants was such a mixture of man and puppy dog. Then there was Cordelia, always so over-dressed in her high-fashion clothes -- today's black and gray chiffon dress was no exception -- and sweet Willow, her overalls and sweaters. They were all a combination of seasoned adults who had faced terrors she could scarcely imagine and wide-eyed children learning to deal with the world outside their families and homes.
"Quadruple batch," Joyce said.
Willow smiled sweetly at her and came to her side as Xander said, "If it helps, Mrs. Summers, we're all pulling for her. We'll do anything for Buffy. We'd die for her."
"Hey," Cordelia said, then shrugged. "Well, maybe I would consider getting seriously hurt."
Somehow, amid all the stress and fear, that got them all laughing.
In the little house in Sunnydale. Situated on the mouth of Hell.
and Copyright © 1999 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One of the best Buffy Books I've read, and i've read alot. A must Read.
I have read alot of books and this is one of my favorites I really dont have much more to say... ta ta
This was one of the best Buffy books I have read and I've read all of them. It has great twists in the plot. I think it's cool how they Travel the Ghost roads to England and how they, well I guess I should let you read the book Huh!?
If there is a book and the authors are either Holder or Golden get it!!! They did it again. They haven't wrote a bad book. This book wasn't as good as the first but still really good anyway. The only thing is I have no clue on how they could write a third book about it. Holder and Golden could have easily have ended it but they managed to get Buffy in another problem but i'll guess you'll have to read to find out.
Ghost Roads was a really good book! I recommend for every Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan to read this book--I could barely put it down!
In my opinion, these books were the best Buffy books ever written. They really go in depth about Angel, and his remourse about Angelus. They are very detailed and edge-of-your seat.
This book is exellent!The whole series is exellent!I hope one day they will turn the gatekeeper trilogy into a movie!