Review: Supernatural - Coyote's Kiss / Author: Christa Faust / Publisher: Titan Books
When I initially signed up to review Coyote’s Kiss by Christa Faust, I did so without having seen Supernatural, the series that inspired this spin-off novel. So what followed, prior to reading the book, was a record-breaking catch-up of the first six available seasons. Much like Twilight, I can picture legions of female fans obsessed with the extremely handsome stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, as they shoot and cut through monsters and demons alike. However, I digress!
To put things into context for fans of the show, Coyote’s Kiss takes place between the episodes Caged Heat and Appointment In Samara of Season Six. The story begins following twelve illegal Mexican immigrants who sense something unnatural with a beautiful woman who is amongst them in a claustrophobic truck travelling towards the USA. This journey is murderously cut short by a supernatural being which takes the shape of that very beautiful woman. The next victims, a trio of Border Patrol Agents that arrive at the scene of the supernatural massacre only to be taken down by the same unnatural being with only the driver of the truck left to tell the mysterious tale.
The death of these fifteen people sparks the interest of Dean and Sam Winchester who travel to Choulic, Arizona to investigate. They discover that Keene, one of the murdered Border Patrol Agents, was savaged more so than the others; as if the unnatural being had purposely targeted him. Further investigation discovers that Keene became an Evangelical Christian following an undisclosed incident that happened fifteen years ago. However, the Winchester’s investigation becomes distracted with the arrival of an elusive leather clad figure that follows the Winchester brothers’ every step. Meanwhile, two more Border Patrol Agents, Leon and Himes, are taken down by the monster. Dean Winchester follows the trail of these two murders to the Custom & Border Protection Agency, Keene’s former employers, where Dean discovers that Keene and Himes were colleagues up until fifteen years ago, could this discovery be pointing to the next victim? The mystery deepens further when Xochi Cazadora, the beautiful, elusive, Aztec figure following the Winchesters, reveals that they are up against a Borderwalker, a demon with a score to settle. Not only have the Winchesters got to determine the mystery of what happened fifteen years ago, but now have to piece in Xochi’s involvement amongst the Aztec puzzle.
Coyote’s Kiss is refreshing, as far as tie-in novels go, because it keeps references to the television series to a minimum. There are a couple, such as a reference to Sam’s time in Hell and mention of the character Jo Harvelle, but a reader with no knowledge of the series could access the novel and not be too worried by these references. Christa Faust develops and sustains the mystery across the novel. For example, the introduction of Xochi Cazadora is built gradually across several chapters from an elusive figure in the distance to a stylish introduction for the Winchesters; this then makes her knowledge of the Borderwalker much more important, given what Sam and Dean have discovered already up to this point. Another element of elusiveness that Faust should be praised for is that of the Borderwalker itself. The monster is always seen from another person’s perspective, it is planted as nothing out of the ordinary and, before you know it, the Borderwalker strikes with gore and ferocity; you could easily imagine this as if it was an episode in the series. Away from the running around and the monsters, Coyote’s Kiss has a little romance thrown in for good measure. You can feel the sexual tension between Dean and Xochi - one particular chapter describes Dean making a move towards Xochi which stops you in your tracks because you think to yourself, “that could happen”, whilst avoiding becoming a cliché. A final smart feature of Coyote’s Kiss is its thorough research on Aztec mythology. References to ‘Itzpapalotl’ and ‘Huehuecoytl’ add to the Aztec theme running through the novel.
However, the book isn’t without its flaws. Something this reviewer picked up is that you never really feel sympathy for the victims of the Borderwalker. Of course they are disposable characters which are meant to emphasise the monster but a lack of sympathy for these victims makes the Winchesters’ aim to stop the Borderwalker seem less urgent, as if they know they’ve got 349 pages to go before the end! Another feature which I wasn’t particularly impressed by was the out of the ordinary revelation that De La Paz, the Custom & Border Protection Officer, knew the Winchester Brothers’ father; it’s too farfetched that this character working in the middle of nowhere would just so happens to recognise Dean. It was a very poor link in order to carry the story further. Meanwhile, something else that didn’t grip me was the fight scenes with the Borderwalker. To say that the Supernatural TV series has some slick fight scenes, the descriptions in the book seem more like instructions on how to fight as opposed to a tense battle that could determine life or death. One final flaw (whilst avoiding a spoiler) is the introduction of a character who is close to Xochi, now considering that I praised the level of mystery running through the book, the way this character is introduced is poorly handled. We’re told outright who they are with no element of surprise or mystery attached and you feel cheated, as if they wanted to get it out of the way in order to push the story on further.
So to wrap things up, Coyote’s Kiss is a must for the fans of Supernatural. The story itself works; it could easily be filmed as a standalone episode. The book is written well above average, you get a strong sense of the relationship between the Winchester Brothers which again reflects the series that inspired the book. However, I feel it lets itself down in tiny (but crucial) areas, which then have a massive impact on the overall story, you lose empathy for characters and at times you become incredibly bored with parts that have been rushed through just to carry on the story. It hasn’t encouraged me to pick up another tie-in novel, sadly.
'Supernatural - Coyote's Kiss' is out now