Published 2006 339 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
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. 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 four 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: 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.
Nightlife is the first novel in Rob Thurman’s urban fantasy series featuring Cal Leandros – a young man on the run from his family heritage. Half-human, half Auphe (or elf) Cal is the product of a cross breeding experiment which has left him with the potential power to bring about the end of the world. But he wouldn’t do that because he’s a good guy… or is he?
Nightlife is narrated in first person by Cal. His sardonic wit gives the story a darkly humorous twist and his lazy ways make him a refreshing change from his female urban fantasy counterparts - the leather-panted divas who race around the pages of urban fantasy novels desperately trying to prove that they are tougher, stronger and harder than any man.
To understand Cal’s heritage it’s necessary to forget every idea about elves that you may already hold. Put Legolas (and Orlando Bloom) from Lord of the Rings right out of your mind. Cal describes the Auphe thus: “One hand was splayed on the glass with long thin fingers and skin as pale as the moon. A narrow, pointed face grinned at me with a thousand needle teeth and the predatory cheer of a fox in the henhouse. Slanted almond-shaped eyes glowed with sullen reds, scarlet as blood.” Dreamy Legolas or Arwen the Auphe aren’t.
Vampires only play a small part in Nightlife, they exist in Cal’s world but most of the fantasy action is taken up by the evil machinations of the Auphe and Darkling, a male banshee. The lack of vampires gives more space for the wide selection of supernatural creatures, picked from a variety of classic mythologies, that Rob Thurman has imaginatively made uniquely her own. The troll under Brooklyn Bridge in particular is fantastic mixture of established myth and inspired horrific fiction.
Cal’s character makes him a believable protagonist and his limited abilities (a supernatural sense of smell) make the story more interesting – mainly because he isn’t powerful and can’t wave a wand and magically fix the world’s problems. His mixed blood also makes him less inclined to play nice with others too – which also makes him a more realistic character in my eyes.
The real hero of the story is Niko, Cal’s selfless brother. Although he’s fully human his martial arts skills and natural cunning have saved the brothers more times than Cal’s super sense of smell…
Fast pacing and almost non-stop action keep the pages turning and a one or two sitting reading is a distinct possibility for this book. Nightlife is the first book in a planned series of seven, so there is plenty of room for character and plot development over the following books and I can hardly wait to read what the brothers get up to next.
Recommended reading for fantasy fans.
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