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The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester

Publisher: Insight Editions

The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester is a hefty coffee table book that not only goes through the first seven seasons of Supernatural story arcs and character development, but it also delves into the show's creatures, mythology and a healthy dose of behind-the-scenes goodness.

The book is divided into eight chapters, one for each season and a last one to tease fans about the show's current events. Each chapter starts off with a season summary that gives a high-level overview of the major events in the show, but there are enough extras scattered around to make the chapters about more than just their corresponding seasons. For example, the first chapter also has interviews with Jared Padalecki (Sam) and Jensen Ackles (Dean), as well as a short list of monsters the brothers encounter throughout the series. While this section by no means talks about every creature and ghoul the Winchesters face, it hits the high points.

In Chapter 2, the book not only covers the events after the show's inaugural season, but it also presents a hierarchy of demons and how all the the various ranks line up. While this chapter is short, it does have an interesting behind the scenes section on the props and set decoration used in the show.

In the following chapters, The Essential Supernatural will touch on everything from The Colt, to Lilith and the 66 Seals, the Four Horsemen and even the various angels, not to mention interviews with Jim Beaver (Bobby), Misha Collins (Castiel) and even A.J. Buckley and Travis Wester (The Ghostfacers). For the behind the scenes parts of the book, you can read up on the visual effects, prosthetics and the costume and art departments.

Of course, what coffee table book would be complete without pictures. The book's 192 pages are stuffed with production stills covering every major and recurring character, as well as a few one-off appearances, but what I found really interesting were the extra bits added to the book. There are quite a few pages with pictures sticking out of the spine or envelopes attached to a page containing a collection of posters based on the art used for the in-show book series unknowingly written about the Winchester brothers. Other tidbits include a collection of postcards featuring pictures of some of the more interesting motels the brothers have stayed in, as well as a sheet of stickers. These little touches give a bit of a scrapbook feel to The Essential Supernatural.

While generally good, I did find quite a few editing problems in the book's text. There were places where some extra editing would have caught typos (not necessarily spelling errors, just the wrong words being used). That being said, there was one pretty bad error in the segment called "An Angel Named Castiel." This section starts off under a series of pictures of the character and ends after two short columns of text. The only problem is, it ends in the middle of a sentence and doesn't resume again … ever. The next page is an interview with Collins and that is followed by "A Guide to Angels." What follows is an interview with Richard Speight Jr. (Gabriel, aka The Trickster), pages about the 66 Seals, the character Chuck Shurley and his books and then a behind-the-scenes piece before the chapter wraps up. It was a pretty glaring error that is hard to forgive.

Despite these issues though, I still had a lot of fun reading through The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester. There is a lot of material, both written and photographic, in this book and any fan of the show should be interested in delving between its covers. I just wish I knew how the writers wanted to end the statement "His newfound status, however, comes at a price: in addition to absorbing all the souls from Purgatory to form a new angelic army loyal only to him, Castiel absorbs the ancient and incredibly"... I mean, I know what happens in the show and what becomes of Castiel, but come on, that's almost as bad as using a listing voice (or opening a parenthesis without closing it.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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