[Disclosure: The author of these books has advertised on the sites I write for, Winchester Family Business and TV For the Rest of Us so Alice asked me to give his books a review. I’ve also met him in person at a convention where he offered to let me have a review copy of the second book.]
If you’ve read much of this blog and my thoughts on the show, Supernatural you’ll know I discuss sometimes that the show ends up being a parable at times on the civilization and anarchy. Particularly that in that universe, where citizens are clearly in danger, ordinary folks will have to step up to do the necessary tasks that we might otherwise institutionalize. Example: Laws must be enforced in a society – people have better things to do – ergo the society creates the institution of “police” to enforce the norms of that society.
The Stone Soldiers series runs with the question: What if the USA institutionalized dealing with the supernatural? or for show’s fans, “What if hunters were deputized?”
But this series isn’t some philosophical treatise or navel-gazing, no sir. It’s pure pulp slathering on like makeup action & coolness over its questioning. This isn’t Law & Order: SPN (though I would pay to watch that) but Hawaii-five-O: SPN. This is Sam & Dean going on hunts with the US government backing them up. (Which, yes I will admit that the government being efficient or effective at anything is probably the most fantastical part of the books – and I’m counting the shapeshifters.)
Of course if you gave Sam & Dean all the backing of the USA, you’d also have to up the threat and that is certainly done here as the books set up a beastie so nasty, even the Predator would hesitate going after one of these (though one can see Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime playing the lead role in this series).
But if you have an enemy too mean, it becomes questionable whether the heroes can win at all. This brings us to my second favorite part of the series. See, in his review for the X-files episode “Fresh Bones” Chuck of SF Debris proposed the question: If, in the XF universe, “everything is real” what if humans fought aliens with things like… voodoo? Or to put it another way: what if invading aliens landed on an Indian burial ground? In this series, the defenders of humanity run with that very question of mixing & matching supernatural features. If Medusa’s gaze only affects males, what happens to a shape-shifter that can be male or female? Could we partially infect soldiers with werewolfism to make them stronger without the curse side effects? This book series runs with those challenges and even answers them with logic and consistency – no really, I can’t express my gratitude for how well this world keeps things working. The only thing I appreciated more was its general appropriate use of religion without being insulting or stupid like some modern fiction.
Any cons to the books? Well the prose style isn’t quite to my taste but it does its job well enough and shouldn’t be a hindrance to less snobbish readers though some parts can end up being repetitive. The character work is pretty light with the protagonists painted more with broad brushes than nuance. I was informed that the first book was adapted from a screenplay submitted for a contest and it does show (for example, the “rednecks who mug the monster” bit) while the 2nd book at least works far better under the strictures of the novel format.
But all in all, it’s a quick, light read. You can check out the first book for free at the link below, and get the 2nd one (for only a dollar) if you want.
TL;DR summary – It’s an 80s action movie mixed with the supernatural in book form.