Wednesday, March 25, 2009

John Winchester's Journal

In last week’s review of The Supernatural Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons and Ghouls by Alex Irvine, I complained that the book wasn’t anchored in any one voice. I’m happy to say that’s not the case with his second SPN title, John Winchester’s Journal. The diary opens in 1983, two weeks after Mary’s death, when Fletcher Gable gave John the blank book to “write everything down.” Each year highlights Dean (Jan. 24) and Sammy’s (May 2) birthdays, as well as the anniversaries of Mary’s death (Nov. 2) and their wedding (May 17). There are also ample notes and doodles throughout on hunter lore and methodology.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to fans because it smoothly mixed the mythology with the story of a dad who wants nothing more than to avenge his beloved wife’s death and protect this two sons, but finds himself struggling with whether or not he’s made the right choices. John’s pain and frustration are palpable, as is his pride in the boys. He knows he’s not going to win any parent of the year awards, but he wants to, needs to, prepare them for the time when he won’t be around. He’s especially hard on Dean who he tasks with watching over his little brother. It’s a duty he’s drilled into his head from the time he was five. Sammy, on the other hand, has always been different and John often draws comparisons. When Dean turned eleven he asked for his own gun, when Sammy turned eleven he asked for a computer. John knows there’s something “special” about Sam, but doesn’t know what. It’s just one more thing about his youngest he doesn’t understand. The diary format does a great job of demonstrating the growth and change the Winchesters go through. John realizes he’s been hunting Mary’s murderer for longer than he knew her. Dean goes from a quiet and contemplative kid to a lady killer bad ass who Dad thinks he did right by. And Sammy, dear Sammy, rebels like any normal young man and totally pisses his father off by being…normal.

The book gives an intimate portrayal of this hunter family, parallels the show well and offers additional insight, especially into Lilith.

* A succubus is a female demon who harvests semen that her male counterpart (incubi) then uses to impregnate women with babies who are more susceptible to demon possession or become witches. Hebrews call the succubus Lilith.

* And, get this, Sammy’s not the only one to do the deed with a demon! A lonely John slept with Ms. Lyle, Sammy’s teacher, but learned she was a demon when she tried to kidnap Sammy. Dean performed his first exorcism and John wondered if Lyle was really Lilith. He also questioned why she wanted Sammy, but remembered some lore: “The stories also say that succubi come to claim the children that have been fathered by incubi, which is ridiculous.”


The last entry is October 28, 2005, twenty-two years and two grown sons later, John finally finds Azazel.

Now if only they’d publish the boys journal.


Anonymous said...

Oooh, now this sounds like one I must get! Thanks for the review.


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Your review made me eager to get it, until the parts that corroborated some of the ridiculous stuff in the comics. :(

Anonymous said...

I assume you must be referencing the Lilith stuff? How come you're so adamantly opposed?

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

It's not the storyline itself, really, and it's suitable for the comic book format, I just don't think it meshes at times with the TV world. Sam on the show is completely oblivious (at first) to the idea that he's anything special. But the Sam in the comics was abducted and witness to horrific things and TOLD things that the adult Sam knows nothing about.

In the comics, Sam was young enough that we could probably say "okay, he blocked it out" but even when people do that, some elements remain. Even more, DEAN was witness to things, and told things, that adult Dean and even the young Dean in flashbacks on the show are oblivious to. And I can't buy that.

On the show, I can accept that John would leave his kids alone, trusting that Dean could watch out for Sam, because the way those events are presented, they're just kids and Sam is removed from the hunter world until he gets older. But after he was abducted by a demon and train debris formed a big monster transformer thing and stuff like that? There's no possible way John would go off for that long at a time without leaving Sam in better hands. I can't jive the two.

Whoops. Kinda ranted a little there. Sorry. LOL

Anonymous said...

>>>I just don't think it meshes at times with the TV world

This is why, even if they made journals from the boys' POV, I would be hesitant to get them. Obviously (as a writer!) I'm a fan of the written medium, but I fell in love with SPN as a Show and its the core show mythology that I want to stay true to.

If that made a lick of sense :-)

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Made perfect sense to me!

MJFredrick said...

I have this book by my bed. I can't wait to read it!