So I’ve watched every episode of the CW’s hit show Supernatural, and although the episodes usually don’t have the emotional impact that the early seasons had, the show is still going strong. However, I had never read any of the books, so when the opportunity to review a book set during the middle of season 7 came about I was happy to oblige and curious as to the quality.
The back of the book told me that a string of mysterious deaths were leaving victims in an almost mummified state and Sam and Dean Winchester discover a patchwork dog (called “Frankenmutt” and “Stinkenstein” throughout the book) was the culprit. I was pretty discouraged that all the surprise was told to me on the back of the book! But fret not…. in typical Supernatural style there were plenty of twists and turns that quickly made it clear that the back of the book hardly scratched the surface.
If you are a fan of the show you are familiar with the formula that almost every episode starts with some innocent (or not so innocent) people being murdered by some bad thing and as it’s a cable show, the camera always cuts away to a wall being splattered with blood. Refreshingly, the book spares you no gruesome details and the entire first chapter is dedicated to giving you an elaborate back story to the poor schmuck’s who are going to be slaughtered and then relishes in the kill itself. It came as a shock, but one I realized the show has been missing. Where the show has a set run time and can’t slow down, the book can take the time to fully develop every character while still staying the tried and true path.
Joyce screamed as the monster-dog sank its teeth into Ted’s throat and began shaking him back and forth, as if he were nothing but a toy. Ted’s eyes widened with fear and pain,but although his mouth gaped wide, no sound emerged. An instant later Joyce understood why, as thick blood geysered upward. It ran down the sides of Ted’s mouth and turned his white hair crimson before soaking into the ground beneath.
The story sees Sam and Dean taking a detour from their hunt of the leviathan, Dick Roman, and instead pursuing a strange lead in a small town that Sam hopes will lead to a powerful weapon to use against the leviathans. They learn of the mummified victims, find out it’s a monster mutt, Sam gets bitten by it, and then…. they kill it. And this is only about chapter 3. So guess what? The monster dog was just a patsy for a far more interesting story involving elements taken from Frankenstein and Re-Animator (something that the author is well aware of).
Along with this comes the fact that Sam is still haunted by hallucinations due to his time as a play thing for Satan and the archangel Michael (also something you’d have to watch the show to know) and Dean has little interest in even being in the town, making for an interesting dynamic as the story often switches whose perspective is telling the story. A great benefit over the show is characters don’t have to say anything for you to know their hidden thought dialogue (an obvious benefit that books can provide).
I was extremely happy with the story Tim Waggoner crafted, especially considering he was able to capture Sam and Dean’s dialogue to the T. I’m definitely excited to read more of the Supernatural book series as the books and the show compliment each other in a really unique way, interweaving the stories instead of trying to rewrite them. My favorite highlight throughout the book is an ongoing flashback involving Sam and Dean’s early days before they are “true” hunters and a girl named Trish.
If you are a fan of the Supernatural tv show then you definitely need to do yourself a favor and give this book a read. If you are a casual fan of horror/supernatural books this might be hit or miss for you as a lot of the story relies on you understand these characters, but I’d still recommend it because there are plenty of unique characters and gory situations, monsters, ancient gods, a little bit of history, funny dialogue, and some good action scattered throughout.
– Johnny Townsend