Supernatural Rite of Passage: Good Horror, So-So Supernatural [Book Review]

Have you ever had a close call? Took a different freeway to work only to find out that the one you usually take was the scene of a massive pile up. Left a store just minutes before it was robbed? Lucky, you. But in the town of Laurel Hill, New Jersey fate works the other way. Instead of narrowly avoiding disaster, the townsfolk are slowly being killed off by one freak accident after another.

Could it be a coincidence? Or is there some big bad at work in Laurel Hill?

Sam and Dean Winchester are betting on the big bad so they set out to stop it in the newest Supernatural tie-in novel Rite of Passage.

This is horror novelist John Passarella’s second run at Supernatural and it suffers from the same issues as his first book Night Terror; too much monster, too little Sam and Dean.

In this book, Passarella spends an inordinate amount of time detailing the lives of the victims and the intricacies of their deaths. The author certainly does have a vivid and morbid imagination (something a horror writer needs, I imagine). The villain is like a murderous MacGyver,  turning harmless, everyday objects, into weapons of mass destruction. If this were a stand-alone horror novel, it just might work.

Sadly, this is a Supernatural tie-in novel and the boys hardly ever appear on the page and when they do, they’re ineffective and whiny. Thinking it might be me, I opened the novel to ten random pages. Sam and /or Dean were only on two. That’s not enough for me.

I was amused by the book’s setting. The author says Laurel Hill isn’t a real place, but the streets, the university and other location notations are. I know, because I grew up not far from this area of South Jersey.

By far, the biggest problem I had with this book was the amount of destruction. Our boys are heroes and though they often lose one or two innocents in the fight, in Rite of Passage, they lose too many to count and that’s not fair. The level of violence in the story doesn’t leave any room for suspense and when you build a monster this invincible, it’s hard to buy into it when the Winchesters do finally take it down.

John Passarella is an excellent horror writer. I’m sure his non-Supernatural books are the kind that will keep you up all night and checking under the bed for days after. But as a tie-in writer, he misses the mark. And I hate saying it because I appreciate the amount of work that went into this novel and I’m glad Titan is still rolling out new titles. I just wish that, going forward, Sam and Dean would make more than a guest appearance in the Supernatural novels.

Supernatural: Rite of Passage is available now through Amazon.


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