As we fans near the final weeks leading up to the 9th season premiere, what can we fans do to deal with our withdraw?
Why pick up some extra "episodes" from Titan books!
"Carved in Flesh" covers a period of time during season 7. If you really hated that season, don't hold it against this novel. There's a few references to the events of that season (Sam's insanity, Bobby's death, Dick Roman) but they're just asides that have no real impact on the plot. With minor editing, this book could just as easily take place in season 1 or 2.
So what's this book's case? Well... I don't want to say because the mystery in this one is quite enjoyable. Though I warn very strongly AGAINST reading the back or any other blurb as it spoils the first third of the mystery.
Canon wise there isn't anything currently invalidating the book. Though it does reveal something interesting about the boys' past life and a foe they've fought before so it is one of the first books I've really wanted to be canon in awhile.
Entertaining, decent characters, good plot, I'd give this story...
Out of 5, four if I'm in the right mood. I will warn any fan considering this novel: there are a few dangling plot threads left at the end. It is done in a realistic manner that is germane to the plot (after all, in life we don't always get the answers), and the threads are all related to secondary concerns. However consider yourself warned if such a thing bothers you. (sometimes it does me, sometimes not, hence my wavering score)
Also? This has (IMHO) the WORST death scene in the novels so far. And by "worst" I mean "most nightmare inducing." Actually there's 2 scenes both in this book that could contend for the title. ...
Every season the Winchesters face a demigod, so it was about time for them to deal with one in the "off-seasons". What separates this hunt from the other god-hunts is that this time we're dealing with the age-old trope of an acolyte looking to bring their god to earth, and our heroes trying to stop them. Which makes its appearance in season 7 somewhat ironic since that season kicked off in a similar manner. With also a similar result. And with a similar Lovecraftian feel.
Of course, this isn't a novel series, so while the god is summoned, it is "trophied" by the end of the book. The manner of said defeat is... another count against the score. It's not too big a plot hole (an explanation can be filled in without too much stretching) but it does come off very weird for the god to shrug off a bullet to the brain one scene, only to be stopped by a scalpel to the spine in the next scene. Still, the process to summon the god is pretty creative (or if it's a tribute to something besides the obvious, it's too obscure for me to get) and I give the author full kudos for putting in something pretty new in there.
By far the strongest segments of the book are the flashbacks the bros have towards what some might call their first "joint" hunt. It's really effective even if a little "on the nose" in its relation to the main plot (but there is a plausible explanation for why it's being brought up now) and while skirting the line of cheesiness, I have to admit their resolve at the end of the book to "finish" that old hunt did give me a manly tear.
Guest stars of the story are fairly memorable for a one-time appearance. I especially felt sorry for the biochem-entrepenuer. That's what makes this book more like an episode than just about any other. The boys still get the win, but it's heartrending nonetheless.
"Supernatural: Carved In Flesh" was written by Tim Waggoner and published by Titan Publishing.