Imagine waking up, alone, and not remembering who you are.
“I was a killer. I woke up knowing that before I knew anything else.” Cal Leandros hasn’t forgotten everything, just the important parts of his life. Who is he? Does he have family? Friends? And, more importantly, why is the beach where he came to littered with the corpses of giant spider-like creatures?!
The Cal Leandros series—or what could be easily called the Leandros Brothers series—is an urban fantasy series set mainly in New York City and is darker in tone than the Harry Dresden novels by Jim Butcher. Rob Thurman really puts her characters through … well, hell. They’ve faced off against evil Auphe—a nightmare reimagining of Tolkien elves—a Mummy that likes to create mummified cats as pets, trolls, werewolves, vampires, and in this particular entry, an Egyptian goddess.
Blackout has to be my favorite novel so far. Released last year—2011—this sixth book in the series serves as an excellent introduction for new readers and gives old ones a new perspective on familiar characters. When he’s “rescued” from a rather “normal” existence in a small South Carolina town by his brother, Niko, and Robin Goodfellow—yes, the Puck of legend and Shakespeare—Cal begins the process of trying to recover his memory and deal with his role as monster hunter.
Though I found Blackout‘s narrative—Cal narrates—less “dark” in tone, I found I actually liked it better. The heavy pathos in some of the previous books can wear a reader down. The plot and characterizations were also a stand out. Cal’s memory loss and its eventual return may mark a turning point for the character. He seems more accepting of his dark heritage by book’s end. And Ammut was an intriguing villian, though I could have done without her spider creature henchmen.
Readers of paranormal stories can really delve into the series, either with this book or the first in the series, Nightlife. For some reason, I can’t seem to manage to read this particular series in the correct order. The first one I read was Madhouse, the third book and my second favorite to date. I went back and read book one, then two, skip to four … then somehow managed to miss five. This out-of-order reading hasn’t diminished my liking nor enjoyment for Thurman’s series. And Thurman is one of those authors that amazes you with how well she gets into the male mind.
For more about Rob Thurman and this series, visit her site here. The amazing art work beautifully matches the narrative’s description of the characters. That’s a representation of Cal pictured on the Blackout cover above.