Nightlife – Rob Thurman
There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one…Well, half of one, anyway.
In New York, there’s a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Of course, most humans are oblivious to this, but Cal Leandros is only half-human. His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares-and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal.
He and his half-brother Niko have managed to stay a step ahead for three years, but now Cal’s dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him: He is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life…
Caliban Leandros knows about monsters. Matter of fact, he is one. Well, as his older half-brother Niko keeps reminding him, he’s only half Auphe-a species of dark elf bent on violence and destruction. But, that doesn’t keep Cal from seeing himself as more monster then man. After all, he would have to be to keep his brother living their nomadic life style; deprived of all the things he could have done without having to protect him. But, that’s what being family is all about, taking the good with the bad-and in Cal’s case, there’s a lot of bad.
Living in New York they are constantly looking over their shoulders, always on the move trying to outrun the monsters of their past, the Auphe. They’ve been stalking Cal since his birth, always lurking in the shadows until one night his father abducts him into Tumulus, the Auphe home realm, to set their plans in to motion. What happened there is a mystery to Cal other then the knowledge that he escaped back home and into Niko’s protective arms appearing to have aged several years in a matter of days. From there they’ve tried to live as normal a life as possible with Cal working at a bar and Niko as a bodyguard.
Feeling every bit a monster for keeping his brother from living his life and tired of running Cal dissuades Niko from doing what comes natural to him after killing a solitary Auphe in Central Park, running to keep his brother safe and out of the Auphe’s clutches. Instead he pleads for more time to gather information and when that fails at least until they can find a reliable vehicle-enter Robin Fellows, a charismatic car salesman and a whole lot more then either of them bargained for. Fellows, once famous as Puck from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a breath of fresh air…or rather hot air that aids the brothers in uncovering the plot of the monsters that haunt their lives. To add serious insult to injury, however, it isn’t only running from the Auphe that must concern the brothers, but the creature the Auphe sent to take possession of Cal’s body. A vile creature he refers to as Alice, it is able to over take his body-not wholly human not totally monster-and lead the Auphe to the fruition of their plans, the end of the world as we know it…and the human race.
For me, the characters of this story were really well developed. From the first sentence of this novel to the last you are drawn into the sarcastic wit and charm that is Cal and the strength and devotion that is Niko. An essential odd couple, Cal is young and lazy while Niko is determined and older then his years. The two hold each other together eliciting a simple balance of give and take, perfect and imperfect. Add to that Robin’s light banter and roving eye for Niko and the story hits as many high notes as low.
The voice of Cal is highly developed as well, with a seemingly blasé tone about his own life, as if his heritage weren’t so much a curse as something to be chalked up to cosmic karma, and a more revered tone when it comes to his brother, someone who he feels carries a large burden, namely himself, upon his shoulders. Then there is a definite switch in voice as Alice begins narrating that adds an essentially creepy vibe tinting thoughts we have come to associate with Cal in a gruesome and horrific light showing that no matter how monstrous Cal believes himself to be, he still has a long way to go.
The world the series takes place in is also one to take note of. It is masterfully built with mythical and supernatural beings lurking all over the city. From Bog in Central Park to the troll under Brooklyn Bridge, we are given details of a world before the rise of man and of the creatures that called it home. There is also a lot happening within the world, battles that rage and never ending action that is well written and not glossed over. In fact it’s quite the opposite. The action of the novel is as much a part of it as the drama that rules the lives of the characters. This gives the story a fast paced intensity that I truly adored and added grit to an already darkly magical world.
For the first book in a series, Nightlife makes a strong and overall likable impression and is a delightfully adventurous read. There’s a little something for everyone with strong writing and characters leaving plenty of threads available for future novels. There is not a doubt in my mind that Cal and Niko’s lives will continue to be a complicated mess, but no matter the struggle the bond between them cannot be trumped, or overshadowed.
I give Nightlife 4 out of 5 Bites.
Reviewer: Wenj http://blacklagoon.left-unspoken.net
Oct 18th, 2010 at 9:45 am