Nearing the age of 30, I find that I have only 2 things left on my ‘bucket list’: Skydive and visit Scotland (I’m hoping to maybe do both soon and skydive into Scotland). However, it appears that I have to make an addition. Before I die, I really must play a SPN:RPG game with Mr Keith R.A. DeCandido.
Why? Because he repeatedly demonstrates an ability to not only write engaging stories within the bounds of SPN canon, but his tales stretch those rules to new lengths. Like the show, you never quite know what you’re going to get with him until you reach that last page and yet the story always fits flawlessly, you could really believe the story would be on TV next week.
This time is no exception and the story is pretty good, however you get the sense of it being constrained by its format. Keith aims to tell a story crossing the 3 generations of Winchester hunters. Quite frankly, there was enough material packed in that he could have written a paper back trilogy, each generation taking up one whole book to go through the case. But this isn’t a trilogy and the story shows the strain. Close to the midway point, some things happen “just so”. Some of these incidents aren’t true Deus Ex Machina, for they’re decently set up and explained, but nonetheless the reader can’t help but notice that these incidences seem patched in to speed the plot along. John Winchester’s part is especially weak here.
Overall the “hunt across time” is great and DeCandido adds lots of little touches to give continuity between the generations. In one section he gets us inside the head of an angel and it is quite well done. The portrayal comes off as sympathetic and understandable, but still not very pro-human. We got a little bit of a hint of it from Raphael but would the show make the angels this sympathetic. I mean, I know they’re default good-guys and as such you have to work a bit harder explaining why the protagonists are going against them instead of siding with them but I think the show overshot the mark awhile back. This book brings them back to a more balanced perspective and reminds us that, while we want the Winchesters to win, having the angels be victorious wouldn’t be a bad 2nd option.
There is a little politics in the book as well, but toned down enough that it shouldn’t be an intrusion unless the Vietnam war is an extremely touchy subject for you. On the other hand, a hippie dies in chapter 2 (ah hippies and the French… we’d have so few punchlines without them).
As for the printing itself, apparently the book series has changed publishers. The covers are less stiff than paperbacks historically which I like because it makes reading easier without cracking the spine (which I always try to avoid). They also dropped the solid colors + roadmap look the spine & back had and replaced it with a generic, dark blue fog. While I am thankful that someone’s figured out NEON AND SUPERNATURAL DON’T MIX, I do kind of miss the road maps that were on the books. It gave them a really distinct feel.
All in all I give this book a pretty high score, but some of the weaknesses hold it back from being as awesome as the previous two. A solid:
P.S. If you’ve read my previous two reviews of Keith R. A. DeCandido’s Supernatural books, you’ll know that Mr DeCandido suffered from a very unusual gypsy curse. Any book he wrote would have grossly incorrect back cover blurbs. Since then he’s apparently appeased the gypsy and the blurb for his latest book, Heart of the Dragon is 100% accurate.