Supernatural tie-in writers have it tough. First, they have to craft well-plotted and sub-plotted stories that sound like they could be a episode of the series. Second, they have to write Sam and Dean in a way that completely matches their characters on the show which includes being careful not to mention anything that goes against canon.
Then, they have to set their story in the middle of the current TV season, providing enough back story for the average watcher without boring the die-hard fans. After all of that, the book hits the shelves after the series has wrapped for the season, which means the reader (and watcher) has to turn back the brain clock and forget everything that’s happened in the final episodes. Right.
The latest tie-in novel, “Supernatural: Carved in Flesh” takes place in Season Seven between “Time After Time” and “The Slice Girls.” That means that the Leviathan are still on the loose. Sam’s still fighting Lucifer for control of his brain and Kevin hasn’t come on the scene yet.
I wish Titan would let the authors write stand alone novels, then again, Sam and Dean have changed so much since Season One, you have to know where you are in the timeline just to get the voices right.
Given all of that, Tim Waggoner joins my list of favorite Supernatural tie-in writers but overall I’d give this book a B. Let’s break it down:
Frankenmutt and the Double Header
Sam and Dean travel to the small town of Brennan, Ohio to investigate the dried out carcasses of folks attacked by a pieced together puppy. We’re not talking cute, little Frankenweenie, here. We’re talking about a monstrous mutt that was stitched together badly, is rapidly decaying and lives off the life energy of mortal beings.
The whole ‘sucking the life force’ part of the story bothered me. I guess Waggoner was looking for a twist on the classic Frankenstein tale, but it was unnecessary and made the story more mystical than it needed to be.
During the investigation, the boys find out that there’s also a two-headed human running a muck in town and it all leads back to a mad scientist and an ancient alchemist.
The bad guy battles the boys with magic, even sends a mythical fire-shooting salamander after the boys. (Is that why those grills in restaurants are called salamanders?) It was all too much for my liking. It may sound like I’m being picky but I prefer it when the boys battle paranormal creatures rather than magical begins. It feels more. . . dare I say it. . real?
The other issue I had with the story the fact that the Winchesters have dealt with reanimated body parts before. In the book, they say this is a new one, but they faced something similar in Season Three in “Time is On My Side.”
I don’t expect tie-in authors to remember every line of the show, but that’s a major episode plot point that was ignored in the book.
“Supernatural: Carved in Flesh” is well written. Sam and Dean are in character for the most part and the visuals are creepy and compelling. Unfortunately, about half-way through, the bad guys get more page time and the pace slows to that of a two legged turtle.
Sub-Plot Take Two
In addition to the whole Franken-whatever plot, the book has a strong secondary plot that is told in flashback and through the boys’ dreams. It takes place when the boys were young teens and involves the pretty daughter of a hunter who uses her “talents” to get the brothers to take her on her first hunt. You watch the show, so you know how that turns out.
Initially, I was really intrigued by this look back but that storyline also lost steam as it neared the end.
From that, you might think I didn’t enjoy this book, but I did mostly because of Waggoner’s considerable talent. I’d say 85% of the flaws in this book were no fault of his but happened because of the enforced rules and structure of a Supernatural TV tie-in novel.
I’d put this one in third place after “Witch’s Canyon” and “Night Terror.”
“Supernatural: Carved in Flesh” is available now at Amazon.
Which Supernatural tie-in novel was your favorite?