Supernatural doesn't have a hope in hell of succeeding. That is what some people probably thought when the show debuted on the now defunct WB network back in 2005. Yet, what at first looked like an X-Files clone, sans sci-fi, has been a surprising success. The combination of endearing leads, good production values and a compelling mythology have earned it a broad audience and generally positive criticism.
I regret that despite these qualities I have been unable to keep up with Supernatural during the five seasons that have aired so far. Hence, I was pleased to be reminded of it when Titan Books sent me a copy of the second in its series of novels based on the show, Supernatural: The Unholy Cause. The book, which was published earlier this month, is a "previously unseen adventure for the Winchester brothers" that happens sometime after the start of the series' fourth season. Written by horror novelist Joe Schreiber, it reads like an extended episode of the show but with more scope than a TV budget allows.
The Unholy Cause begins with a brutal murder and a gruesome suicide during a historic battle in the American Civil War. Or so it seems. A macabre twist reveals that things are aren't what they appear and sets the stage for the rest of the story.
In classic Supernatural fashion, the show's heroes, demon hunters Sam and Dean Winchester, are introduced on their way to investigate a possibly paranormal event. Here Schreiber introduces a humorous streak that runs throughout the book and helps to make his Sam and Dean convincing recreations of the characters in the TV show. They arrive at the site of the incident posing as FBI agents named Townes and Van Zandt. For anyone who doesn't get the joke, Townes Van Zandt was a Texas-born musician and is one of numerous musical references in this book.