Supernatural: One Year Gone [Book Review]

We know what Sam did during the time between season five and season six, but what did Dean do during his summer vacation? You’ll find the answer in the new Supernatural tie-in novel, “One Year Gone.”

The author of this one is Rebecca Dessertine, and she’s uniquely suited to writing this gap-filling novel because she’s Eric Kripke’s assistant. According to his forward, Rebecca has the “catbirds” seat when it comes to filling in Supernatural’s time line and says Kripke, “she’s a damn good writer.” I won’t disagree, but “One Year Gone” does come with a couple of caveats.

First off, don’t read the book if you haven’t watched at least up until episode 20 of this season. The book makes reference to a lot of things about the main characters that weren’t revealed until the end of the season. Second, if you’re a Sam fan, expect to be pretty much unfulfilled by this extremely Dean-centric novel.

Because the book takes place between the seasons, Dean is in full domestic mode with Ben and Lisa and doesn’t know that both Sam and Samuel are back from the great beyond and hunting together. Throughout the story, Sam follows Dean on his adventures but there is no interaction between them. And (how can I say this without giving away any spoilers. . . ) the Sam in the book, isn’t the Sam we’ve come to know and love, so his actions are at times, rather objectionable.

The plot of the book is this. Dean decides to take Ben and Lisa on a “vacation” to Salem where he hopes to find a Necronomicon and a powerful witch who can work the spells found therein. The particular spell he’s looking for, is one that will raise Sam from hell. He does find a witch, several in fact, and the book, but they have plans of their own and they don’t want Dean interfering. When Dean continues to push for his own agenda, the witches get revenge by first attacking Lisa with one of those terrible hex bags, then they turn Ben and Dean’s touristy trip through an old cllipper ship into a ghostly walk-through that would rival any Halloween haunt. Aiding him in the hunt, is the journal of Nathaniel Campbell who was around during the Salem witch trials. His portions of the story are told as flashbacks while Dean “reads” the journal and though they start out interesting, the ancestors return too many times and add little to the overall story.

As a fan of Domesticated Dean, I really enjoyed the premise of the book, but Lisa and Ben are major players, much like they were in the episode leading to the finale times two. One or both of them are kidnapped numerous times as leverage against Dean and frankly, it gets old by the end of the book. Accidentally putting the two of them in harm’s way is one thing, but once they’re both nearly killed, Dean would have sent them away before pursuing the witches. He doesn’t and they end up in the middle of a bloody fight that also includes (almost laughably) members of a street gang who side with a stranger (Dean) and help him kill the young women he claims are witches.

Dessertine also gets carried away with Dean’s pop culture references. Some are so obscure, even Lisa makes a comment about it. Yes, we know Dean loves his movies but there’s a point where almost everything out of his mouth is a snarky joke and it makes him sound foolish.

The other problem is one they run into on the show all the time. The lead witch is so powerful you have to wonder why she keeps messing with Lisa and Ben instead of killing Dean outright. He has too many close calls to be believable. Yes, I know this is a book about the supernatural, but even in the paranormal world, there are rules that must be followed.

On the upside, I like Dessertine’s writing style. It’s easy to read, the leads are mostly in character (given where they were just before the start of this past season) and she doesn’t get bogged down with irrelevant details. As for plot, pairing the series with the Salem witch trials is such a natural match-up, it’s a wonder they haven’t done it on the show. The downside is the lack of brotherly bonding and, for some, the inclusion of Lisa and Ben but then, they are canon, so you can’t really argue about their place in the book.

“Supernatural: One Year Gone” comes from Titan Publishing. It will be released on Tuesday, May 24 and you can order your copy now from Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: Titan sent me a copy of the book to review but that did not change my opinion of the book.

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