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Book Review: Supernatural: The Unholy Cause by Joe Schreiber

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As all Supernatural fans know (or as all fans of any TV show, for that matter), hiatuses can be quite difficult to get through, especially when Kripke is at the helm and cliffhangers are regular occurrences. Distractions are essential. Some fans take to screencapping all episodes with such minutia that flipping through them fast enough makes it feel like one is watching said episode (Jess, I just might be talking about you). Some fans manage to find things to distract them, rediscovering old classics like books, board games and life in general (remember that, guys?).

I still think that reading is the best way of spending one's summer (especially when there is a nice tree involved) and so I like to spend my hiatus reading. And so it probably comes to no surprise that reading tie-ins to my favorite shows takes up a good part of my summer reading time.

The latest book installment is Supernatural: The Unholy Cause. It starts as a monster-of-the-week but quickly ties in with the overarching Supernatural mythology. While one doesn't need to read this book to get any vital information about the series, I strongly recommend it to those of you who like plunging into the psychoanalysis of the Winchester brothers and that of everyone's favorite angel in a trench coat, i.e. Castiel. As you all well know, books allow for the author to share information with the reader that can't be shared though the media of television, however amazing its team is.

Warning: spoilers about both the book and the show's Season 5 ahead!

The story takes place sometime in the beginning of Season Five, after Sam has broken the final seal releasing Lucifer from hell but before Castiel loses hope in God. I didn't find any other indication as to when the story takes place. An unusual incident at a civil war re-enactment ends the life of one of the participants despite the use of props on the battlefield, and brings the Winchester brothers back to Ilchester, Maryland, where St-Mary's convent is situates. Careful Supernatural viewers, of course, know that the convent is the location where Sam broke the last seal.

It seems that Joe Schreiber is a respectful fan of the series, as he faithfully bring to life characters that have become beloved to legions of fans. One can almost hear Dean's voice dripping with sarcasm and see Sam's eye rolling. We can also imagine Dean's expression when he presents himself and Sam as Agents Townes & Van Zandt and when the Sheriff, recognizing the names, locks them up. What's more, one can now smell the stench defining some of the scenes, brought to life by some great writing, which adds to the sights the author describes.

While we are given interesting insight into both Winchester brothers throughout the book, the topic of their well-being and mental framework has been so hashed in review after review as well as on fan forum after fan forum that what we were given in the book serves more to add to what we already knew rather than bringing forth new insights.

For example, the realism of the civil war reenactment camp puzzles the brothers. The one thing they have always wanted is a normal home, with a mother and a father, where they could have played soccer and grown up normally. It truly baffles them to see grown men willingly give up comforts the brothers dream of to come to such a place. Why would these people, lucky enough to have homes and a family and various comforts the boys dream of having willingly give them up to live like this?

As previously mentioned, this is a topic we have already seen portrayed in the show numerous times. However, there is one Supernatural character we have yet to have more insight in: Castiel. And let me tell you, fans: you are going to love it. Amongst others (can't spoil this book too much, now, can I!), we find out just how distraught Castiel was at losing his ability to heal after being banned from heaven. As always, Castiel makes for quite an entrance by appearing at the camp's clinic, where the civil war reenactment participants are faking various injuries. Castiel puts his hands on them and thinks that he is healing them – that is, until the Winchester brothers define the meaning of "reenactment camp" for him.

This relatively short scene makes fans realize just how devastating it must have been for Castiel to lose his ability to heal, and how strongly that defined him. And it makes me wonder if, just like Dean, Castiel is being meticulously deconstructed only to be rebuilt stronger than before. Who knows? Maybe a promotion will be in order, since Zachariah was recently killed.

If you are a Supernatural fan, this book will make a great addition to your collection. And even if you are not a fan but are curious as to what the show is about, pick up the book; while there are many details you might not pick up on, the story is presented in such fashion that you will know enough to understand the story while at the same time introducing you to some great characters and a fascinating storyline that will give you plenty to talk about with fellow fans.

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