Tuesday, March 24, 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.