On one hand, I almost feel sorry for Jeff Mariotte. Here he has to write up a supernatural paperback in between Keith’s fine works. (well, we haven’t read Bone Key yet, but I’m assuming it will be at least half as good as Nevermore) Apparently Jeff realized this as well and phoned in one of the most mediocre efforts I’ve seen in awhile.
Before I go into a long rant about what derailed this book so much, let me just go over some brief detractions. First, there are several plot threads that end with a disappointing pay off. The book plays very loosely with the established Supernatural ghost rules (they are described as “reanimated dead shapeshifters”). And what is by far the most unbelievable part, the Winchester boys get a 90 year old man to help them. Yes, a 90 year old pseudo-hunter. Erick Kripke once bragged that you could go and find research on the monsters of the week, that they are based on existing stories and tales (like a modern day Brothers Grimm). If anyone can, I’d like to see the research and evidence that there is any 90 year old person out there able to shoot an old fashioned rifle without a broken shoulder, much less do even half of what Baird (the old guy) does.
But where does this book really fail? Full disclosure: I read a lot of “Property Fiction” (PF) – books based upon a TV or movie franchise (Star Trek for example). Now while one doesn’t expect these books to be high literature (though Federation is – even if you’re not a big fan of Star Trek you should read that book) the reader does expect one simple rule to be followed. With each PF, the story told should be one which cannot be told by any other property.* The one I mentioned above, Federation, is a masterful tale which simply cannot be told within the Babylon 5 universe, or the Battlestar Galataca universe. The first Supernatural book, Nevermore, is so well done because it wouldn’t work within the X-files universe, or the Buffy/Angel weedonverse. Witch’s Canyon is… exhibit A in “what I’m NOT talking about”. There’s no real sense of it belonging within the Supernatural universe. Do a name swap of Dean and Sam with Muller and Sculley and you have a X-files book. And that’s exactly how this one reads. Like someone took a premade script and dropped the right names into it and handed it in. And that’s what makes this so disappointing, as Mr Mariotte has done some pretty good genre work in the past (I own a few of his Angel books). Here’s hoping if he does any more, they’ll be a step up.
Because of some Supernatural universal rules violations, a general blandness, and disappointments, I can only give this:
(out of 5)
Only hardcore fans and completists should pick this one up.
Hunt well friends.
*Within reason and common sense of course. Yes I suppose if you bent everything enough you could tell some of these tales in other universes, but it would be an awkward fit. This also doesn’t count rip offs or creating a completely new universe for the story setting. Example: Captain Dirk and First Officer Spork.