Review: Heart of the Dragon (Supernatural #4) by Keith R.A. DeCandido

heart of the dragonI usually avoid reading other reviews of books before writing my own, but for some reason I scrolled down when getting the links for this book. While it looks like the majority of the ratings are positive, the top few reviews that showed up on Goodreads absolutely trashed this book, which is unfortunate. You might take this to mean that I have poor taste in books, but I’d like to think that I really enjoyed this novel because it takes risks and breaks the mold of what is expected from most media tie-ins.

If you’re looking for a book about just Sam and Dean Winchester, you’re going to be disappointed (as, apparently, many reviewers were). The Winchester brothers certainly appear in the book, and they definitely save the day (as they ought to), but this book is also about their family. I genuinely enjoyed this triptych of stories that include not just Sam and Dean, but also their father, mother, and grandparents.  

As a set of characters on an adventure, I thought the section with Samuel and Deanna Campbell and their daughter Mary was my favorite bit of the book. Not only is it fascinating to see aspects of hunting accomplished in an unfamiliar time period, but the interactions between an entire family of hunters (rather than bickering brothers) was a nice change of pace. I was worried that I would be disappointed, since it’s obvious from the structure of the book that the Campbells don’t defeat the Big Bad, but the way it lives on does not diminish the work the Campbells complete.

John Winchester’s section beautifully embodied pretty much everything I despise about the character of John Winchester, and what more can you ask from an author?

The best part of the concluding section is that it’s not just Sam and Dean swooping in to save the day. Who the “bad guy” is becomes fairly muddled, and I like that the narrative ties into the larger story line of the television show regarding the war between angels and demons.

As usual, I give mega bonus points for the inclusion of non-Western mythology. The book’s opening, from the perspective of the man who does become the “Big Bad” of the book, also intrigued me and sucked me in. The downside to this book, I felt, was that so many scenes had to be from the point of view of supporting characters for the reader to take in and appreciate the entire story. This is fine in a television episode, but I’m reading a book specifically to spend more time with the heroes I care about, not waitresses and mediocre gangsters.

I love Supernatural, but not enough to hunt down all the media tie-in novels. I’d definitely read more of them written by this author, though.

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.


Currently reading: Shattering the Ley (Erenthrall #1) by Joshua Palmatier

Currently writing: 15,496/30k words

Published by steelvictory

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. Her debut novel, STEEL VICTORY, was her thesis novel for Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction graduate program in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, she was one of the co-editors for FAR WORLDS, a speculative fiction anthology. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits). She is currently working on more tales set in the world of Limani.

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3 Comments

  1. I like the book but the best part was John’s part then the boys. I can’t understand why some fans feel the need to go out of their way to bash John though. Everything from leaving the boys alone for weeks or starving them to actual physical abuse. I guess some people have weird ways of getting their kicks.

    1. The cool thing about book reviews is that they are entirely subjective. I’m glad you liked John’s section! I’m not clear how you construed my comment as bashing the character. He’s not a terribly sympathetic character, and the author did a fantastic job of portraying that. Unfortunately, when setting preferences, someone has to come in last place.

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