"Basilisk," Rob Thurman

Pros: Fascinating look at a young killer who never had a childhood trying to learn to be a normal person
Cons: A little more awkward and predictable than her Leandros Bros. series (she sets a high bar for herself!)
Rating: 4 out of 5


NOTE: Rob Thurman’s Basilisk is book two in her Korsak Brothers series, following Chimera. If you haven’t read that book yet, preferably skip this review until you have in order to avoid spoilers.


Lukas Korsak grew up in a cold, emotionless institute, called only Michael for as long as he could remember. There they experimented on him and trained him to become the perfect assassin, capable of killing with a single touch. His brother Stefan, however, never gave up looking for him, and finally managed to break him out. That was three years ago. Lukas has been learning to fit into a world he has no memory of. Meanwhile, he searches for a “cure” that will disable the other Chimera, something that will allow them all to go back to being normal people, rather than weapons worth a great deal of money. Lukas and Stefan have even allowed themselves to become almost comfortable in a small town they could call home.

Which means, of course, that they’re running out of time. A killer comes to retrieve Lukas. A visit to the new Institute grounds reveals that the Chimera weren’t nearly as carefully controlled as their owners thought—someone started a rebellion, someone capable of killing without even a touch. Now a crew of young, maladapted killers, all of whom find joy in harming others, is loose upon the world. Lukas might be the only chance at stopping them, but he’s starting to realize something—for all that he’s a genius, he isn’t nearly as smart as he thought he was.


Thurman’s Korsak Brothers books are a little slower and less kick-ass than her Trickster or Leandros Brothers books. This does not in any way diminish them, but it’s good to know so you don’t go in with the wrong expectations. Her characters are fun; I enjoy the subtleties of what she does with Stefan, and also with Lukas. It’s hard to avoid cliches in plots regarding young people suddenly having to adapt to normal life, but she finds ways to make Lukas different and interesting.

One or two plot twists seemed telegraphed a little over-much. The ways in which Thurman hid them from us were also a little awkward at times. Sometimes it works to have a narrator admit that they’re leaving details out for later; sometimes it makes things more confusing (and once or twice I found myself more confused than left in suspense). Thankfully, the telegraphed bits were made up for by the interesting ways in which things were ultimately handled—there were still surprises left to come.

The story is an interesting one; not quite as compelling as Thurman’s other two series, yet still well worth following along.

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