Wow, it's been awhile since we last had a new Supernatural book, but Hellatus is upon us which means it's time to get our SPN fix any way we can. To help us out, a tie-in novel!
A refresher on my review standards. Besides the basic principles of storytelling, the book also must 1) be consistent with canon, 2) consistent with characters, and 3) plausible in the world. (Granted #2 is a pretty broad standard.)
I'll admit, I ended up quite liking this book as it definitely felt more like a "traditional," good-old-fashioned, Monster of the Week episode than a lot of the other books. Typically these books adopt a very "Colombo" style (named after the TV show) to them where we, the audience, are shown everything, including the crimes from the villains' perspectives, and then the tension is seeing how the heroes will catch and expose the villain (or kill it in Supernatural's case). This time the book tells it like the show does, with the audience "witnessing" the attacks but given no clues as to what performed them or why (not sure what show to name this style after; I don't watch many mysteries).
Not that the other books told you outright what was the monster, but they still gave the reader insight into the monster's mind. It may not seem like it at first, but it ends up feeling like spoilers. Instead, in this book we are almost always shown things from the victims' perspective - and I always support humanizing them - which really strengthens the feeling of mystery. I give this book a bit of a bonus because it was more entertaining following along with the boys and learning things as they do than the usual deal of watching them play catch-up.
If there's any faults, it's 1)that some of the "end game" bits at the end didn't seem to follow from what we knew about the monster; and 2) the book starts with Sam and Dean finishing up one case before they embark on the main plot. This opening case ends up sounding more entertaining than the main one, but it also really pushes the "belong in Supernatural" standard (it could, but not as delivered). It would fit great in the SPN anime, though!
Overall, the characters are pretty good. Sam, Dean, AND Castiel all get to work this case. Given that this takes place in S10, I didn't gain much appreciation for Dean's struggle with the Mark of Cain, but it was there. I do appreciate the author stepping up and putting in the work (the main show writers didn't seem to). Cas is kind of the weaker link of the bunch as his motivation is the weakest of the three, but he does get to participate and be involved! Sam's there too!
I'm torn on how to rate this. Going by the best of the show, or even just the best of the books, this is a very good, average read. But when you compare it to the season it's in... it's a masterpiece. You kind of wish we had this instead something like... Paint it Black. So I'll give it...
Out of 5 salt shells. A lot of your reaction to this book will probably depend on how much you enjoyed S10. Not a bad fix for those struggling through hellatus.
If you're curious about John's previous works:
If you'd like to read my reviews of prior tie-in novels:
Carved In Flesh
Best and Worst Supernatural Books
Nightsky also reviewed a few tie-in novels. Go to About Us => Nightsky's Articles to find her reviews.
You can also use tags: Feature Articles=> Tags => Supernatural Novels
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