Pros: Wild, sardonic, action-filled ride!
Rating: 5 out of 5
These days I’m kept so busy reviewing books that it’s rare for me to buy & catch up on an author’s old works. Something has to be very, very good indeed for me to take time out to do that. That should give you some idea of how excellent Rob Thurman’s Deathwish really was—I found out it was book four in her Leandros Brothers series and I had to, HAD TO, get the first three books. And since these days it seems like by the time a series is done the first books are out of print already, I highly recommend picking this series up as quickly as you can.
Nightlife is book one in the saga of the Leandros brothers, Cal and his older brother Niko. Well alright, technically they’re half-brothers. Their mother was a con-woman; Niko’s father didn’t stick around; and Cal’s father was a monster. No, not a figurative monster—a literal one, with sharp teeth, blood-red eyes, and an extremely deadly pedigree. For years that monster was content to watch Cal from the shadows, but something changed that. Now Niko and Cal are constantly on the run from the creatures they call “Grendels,” trying to stay one step ahead of the nightmare that even vampires and werewolves fear.
The two brothers are about as alike as night and day. Niko’s an obsessively orderly health nut schooled in the martial arts and swordplay, plenty deadly for a “mere” human and possessed of a keen intelligence and a dry wit. Cal’s a lazy junk-food bum with a preference for guns, a hair-trigger temper, and a sarcastic knack for pissing off everyone and everything. He’s also inherited a few things from his father, like the ability to sniff out other non-humans.
The brothers have been running from place to place for years, and they plan to keep doing the same, but New York City might just force them to stop running. Here they can lose themselves in a thriving supernatural community. Here they start making one or two tentative friendships, even if those friendships are with a lecherous Puck, an underage psychic, and a vampire. Besides, the Grendels have hatched a plan, and they aren’t going to let the brothers slip through their fingers this time.
Where do I start? The book is told from Cal’s viewpoint. He’s a wonderfully sarcastic young narrator—19 years old, and his take on the world is noir-ish and cynical, yet in some ways vulnerably young and dependent on his brother Niko. Rob Thurman gets into Cal’s head so admirably that his personality vibrates from the pages!
The action is first-rate. The entire book is filled with tense fights, flights, and arguments that keep the reader glued to the pages. The narrative is highly visual, which contributes to the intensity of the action.
If that wasn’t enough, Nightlife is darkly humorous enough to keep you wanting to quote page after page to everyone around you. The characters are enjoyably witty, each in his own unique way. And I just love the character of Rob Fellows, a car salesman and lonely Puck who gets sucked into the brothers’ troubles.
This isn’t your average urban fantasy of werewolves, vampires, and elves. The elves in this world are everyone’s worst nightmare, and the werewolves and vampires aren’t at the top of the food chain. Thurman’s world has its own very distinctive feel, and it’s a wonderful departure from the norm!