Nightlife, by Rob Thurman

>> Saturday, May 09, 2009

TITLE: Nightlife
AUTHOR: Rob Thurman

PAGES: 352

SETTING: Alternate reality New York
TYPE: Urban Fantasy
SERIES: First in one.

REASON FOR READING: I'm still trying different kinds of Urban Fantasy, seeing if I can find something that suits me. So far I've only really enjoyed Wen Spencer's Ukiah Oregon series, but the Cal and Niko Leandros series came highly recommended, so I had high hopes for it.

Welcome to the Big Apple. 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-and that’s only the beginning. Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, 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. Why? Cal hasn’t exactly wanted to stick around long enough to find out.

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…for 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…
Was Nightlife as good as I'd hoped? Not quite. It was all right, and I think I'm intrigued enough to keep reading, but I had some niggles.

The series is set in an alternate version of our world, one where monsters lurk in every corner. Cal Leandros is one of them, or rather, half one. His father was what he and his half-brother Niko call a grendel, a kind of violent, psychotic monster straight out of classic fairy tales (but before they were sanitised!).

When Cal was a teenager, his father kidnapped him, taking him through some sort of portal into the grendels' terrifying homeland. Cal managed to escape after some 2 years, but he's completely blocked what has happened. He only knows it's not an experience he cares to repeat. Cal and Niko have been on the run from the grendels ever since, and they spend their lives looking over their shoulders.

Their running comes to an end in Nightlife, as the grendels finally catch up and we discover just why they're so interested in Cal.

There were quite a few really good things here. My favourite was the relationship between Niko and Cal. Brotherly love at its best. They are both quite obviously willing to die to protect one another, but that doesn't prevent them from teasing each other mercilessly. It was sweet, and Niko was especially so. He had this zen ninja thing going on which was really hot :-)

I also enjoyed Cal's struggle with what he sees as the monster inside him. This was really interesting, and it doesn't feel as it's something that's been completely resolved.

Unfortunately, not everything was great. The action is narrated in the first person by Cal, and at times, his voice irritated the hell out of me. It was quite strange, but he sounded almost like a feisty, TSTL heroine at times. And things didn't improve when the narrator changed (don't want to say any more to avoid spoilers). That was such an unenjoyable experience. As much as Cal kept annoying me, at least he didn't make my skin crawl.

MY GRADE: A B. This was a good enough intro to this world, and I'm looking forward to learning more about Niko, as well as about a couple of other characters who were introduced, such as Robin and Rafferty.


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