I have never written a book review for TVS, but the folks at Titan Books were nice enough to send me the latest Supernatural tie-in novel, “Coyote’s Kiss” by Christa Faust. In fact, I received the book almost a month ago but I’ve been so swamped with thesis-writing and various moves that I haven’t been able to get to it until recently.
Look, I’ll be completely honest with you: I think tie-in novels are severely problematic at best. I don’t necessarily think that the original creators of the story are the only ones who can write in that world, but the few tie-ins I’ve read have felt like misfired fan fiction. There are certainly good fan fiction stories and I’m sure there are plenty of good tie-ins as well. For the most part, I would probably say that “Coyote’s Kiss” is solid enough. Once I was actually able to start this book, it didn’t take much time to finish.
But because I like to be difficult, I’m not entirely interested in reviewing “Coyote’s Kiss” per se. As a massive Supernatural fan and someone who is interested in how others perceive the series, especially the Winchester brothers as individual characters, I was excited to see how this book fit into the series’ televised world. Most importantly, I wondered if the book and its author appeared to favor Sam or Dean.
On those fronts, I have both good and bad news. The plot and general atmosphere of “Coyote’s Kiss” works well with what I expect from Supernatural. The introductory scenes with the book’s monster were well-described and I could easily visualize them as part of an episode’s teaser. Exposition-heavy conversations with Sam and Dean had a natural, believable rapport that I could also picture playing out in a typical dingy Supernatural motel. The wit, the violence and the intensity were present in much of this book. Additionally, it was really intriguing to see the Winchesters operate near the Mexican border instead of their usual Midwest haunts. In fact, I wish the actual television series would try that every once and a while (although it’s much more difficult to make Vancouver look like New Mexico).
However, there is one substantial issue with this book, something that I probably could have expected based on my experiences with the fandom. Although this book takes place between season six’s “Caged Heat” and “Appointment in Samarra,” the book feels like it is told almost entirely from Dean’s perspective. I understand the weird place Sam was in these episodes without his soul, but I felt like he was often regulated to supporting duty while Dean flirted with the book’s primary female character, Xochi (who is an interesting, complex character in her own right). I won’t go as far as to say that the book was biased towards Dean or some kind of terrible Dean-loving fan-fiction published with legitimate backing, but the balance between the brothers wasn’t really there like I would have hoped.*
*Many would argue that you could say the same thing about the series as well. But that’s not go into that.
There are other issues with “Coyote’s Kiss” – it sometimes feels like it’s trying too hard to recapture the difficult balance between sarcastic humor and real drama, the tension between Xochi and Dean is too obvious – but I am willing to forgive those under my personal issues with these kind of stories to begin with. I’ve read some fairly dreadful tie-ins in my day. “Coyote’s Kiss” is not one of them.