Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Please. The devil wished he had half my style and a fourth of my schemes.”
Cal and Nikos Leandros are back and this time they face their greatest enemy…themselves. Cal’s monstrous heritage is slowly gaining a foothold, trying to obliterate Cal’s humanity. On top of that, Cal is being pursued by a murderous doppelganger, a psychotic ex, and a band of covert warriors who feel it’s time for Cal to be put to rest…permanently. As the clock ticks down, sending Cal and Niko’s closer to their deaths, it may be Cal’s murderous other half that saves them in the end.
Rob Thurman brings her A game to the table in her ninth installment of her Cal Leandros series. Secrets are revealed and we learn once and for all exactly why Robin Goodfellow has been such a primary figure in the Leandros brothers lives. The story is a bit more chatty than normal but the storyline is possibly one of her best. Presented in duel POVs, you get an in depth look at Cal and Niko’s past through the eyes of an immortal. And their past is far longer and more convoluted than anyone ever imagined. Thurman’s continued use of mythology and religion, twisting and manipulating to her whims, further expands and evolves her world, keeping the series fresh and inventive.
I am a huge fan of this series. Similar to the WB show, Supernatural, the premise is built upon two brothers whose love and loyalty to one another defines their very existence. Heavy on sibling love and the concept that not all family is tied by blood. Each episode in self contained with a long running arc. Well-plotted and cast with characters with dynamic personalities, this series is filled with suspense, betrayal, sarcasm, humor, and some very dangerous antagonists. A fascinating series that continues to captivate and enchant. Thurman does a fabulous job of exploring and evolving the relationship between brothers Cal and Nikos as they fight to protect each other and the clueless humans in the city.
Downfall opens with Cal noticing that he is beginning to manifest some physical traits of his auphe heritage. He fears that the more he starts to look like the auphe, the more he will start to act like one. Cal also has a influx of enemies gunning for him. He is been targeted for death by the Vigil, an organization that works to keep humans unaware of the supernaturals around them. Though he has always been on their radar, his actions in Slashback (book 8) placed him on their hit list. Cal’s ex girlfriend, Delilah, is now head Alpha of the Kin and has decided to clean house…beginning with Cal. Grimm is also back and is going to make Cal play the game of world domination with him regardless if Cal want to play or not.
Similar to Slashback, Thurman tells this story in the present and past but this time uses Robin Goodfellow’s memory to fill in most of the remaining blanks that have existed throughout the series. Robin has been a large part of the series but purposely hid his importance from us. In here we learn the full extent of his loyalty to Cal and Nikos and his intensive and sometimes intrusive manipulations behind the scenes. Reincarnation is the theme and Thurman works it into the ongoing storyline beautifully. We are gifted with a dual narration-Cal and Robin-as they each remember the past. It gives the story a sense of intimacy and depth to hear Robin bear his innermost feelings and actions concerning Cal and Nikos. We feel his pain, sadness, and weariness as we learn he has spent centuries trying to keep Cal and Nikos alive while they charged fearlessly into danger with each new life. It has become an endless cycle that Robin is determined to break.
The conflict is an explosion of violence, sacrifice, and brings about a shocking conclusion that wraps up a open storyline but leaves us with some interesting clues towards the future of Cal and his “family”. Robin definitely rules this installment and shows everyone that he is indeed the ultimate trickster. This series continues to walk on the dark side of urban fantasy as it repeatedly shows us that monsters do exist in the world and sometimes the difference between them and us is nothing more than a degree of separation. Even with each book having a resolvable conflict, I don’t view them as stand alones. The arc is long standing and convoluted as is the evolution of the main characters. I recommend starting from the beginning with Nightlife.
Overall Rating: A