Downfall Author: Rob Thurman Series: A Cal Leandros Novel 9 Publisher: Roc, August 5, 2014 Format: Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages List Price: $7.99 (print) ISBN: 9780451465290 (print) Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher
I let it go—all of it. Everything I’d been saving up all my life, building and growing inside me, too much to hold in one half-human body. It pushed and fought to be free with a force that turned me into a bomb with a timer vibrating on zero. I was free.
But so was everything I’d fought so hard not to be....
Brothers Cal and Niko Leandros know trouble when they see it—and then proceed to wipe the floor with it. But now it seems their whole world is falling to pieces. Cal’s nightmarish monster side is growing ever stronger, changing Cal physically as well as mentally. Which is exactly what Grimm—Cal’s savage doppelgänger—wants. And when a covert supernatural organization decides that it’s time to put Cal down before he threatens pretty much everything else in existence, the brothers find themselves in a fight they actually might lose. But the dark temptations Cal has denied all his life may prove to be exactly what can save them.
In his ninth novel about the Leandros brothers, Cal and Niko, Rob Thurman finally focuses on one of the secondary characters – Robin Goodfellow. Robin is a puck, a trickster creature that has been around for millions of years. In the prior novel, Robin revealed that he has always been at the brothers’ sides as they have been reincarnated multiple times as warriors throughout the centuries. In Downfall, we actually hear from Robin’s point-of-view for the first time ever, and we learn that he has been influencing the boys in this life, even before they ever really “met.”
As she did with Slashback, Thurman alternates the chapter narrators, this time between Cal (as usual) and Robin. Cal is his usual snarky self, always balancing on the edge of sanity, worried about whether his humanity will be overrun by his monster side. Robin’s chapters are pure joy to read – adding a whole other dimension to the character. His narration illustrates his huge ego, his delight in tricking others, and an incredible depth of sorrow and fear over losing his only friends once more, despite his best efforts.
There are three major enemies out to remove Cal from the playing field now. The Vigil is an all-human group of warriors whose entire purpose is to keep humans from learning about the supernatural creatures which live among them. In the past, Cal had come to their attention and they debated whether to kill him if he could not control the Auphe (monster) side of him. So far, they had left him alone. However, in Slashback, Cal used his Gate (teleport) abilities to disappear in the middle of a group of humans in order to rescue his brother. The Vigil tends to disapprove of the public use of supernatural power and has decided to eliminate Cal for the good of humanity. Cal’s former girlfriend, Delilah, a homicidal werewolf, has just taken over as Alpha in the city, and like most exes, she has an axe to grind against Cal, literally. Lastly, Grimm, another half-breed like Cal, has returned and wants Cal to give into his monstrous heritage and join him in ravaging the earth.
Cal still is recovering from the damage he took in Slashback and is having difficulty using his Gate powers, and now his Auphe blood is changing his appearance physically, making him look less human. He fears that the physical change will be reflected mentally and that he will lose control of himself. Niko is determined to protect Cal at all costs, even that of his own life. Robin is trying everything he can to prevent losing the brothers to death again.
Once more, Thurman has created a story that can be read separately from the other books in the series, but reading them in order adds so much depth to the characterizations. In addition, the hyper focus on Robin adds a whole new element to the series. Through his narration, he points out various ways that he has helped the Leandros brothers in Thurman’s earlier works, and the reader learns much more of his back story than has ever been revealed before. Best of all, Robin tricks not only the enemies and the brothers, but the reader as well.
Thurman is a terrific writer who focuses as much on characterization as on plots. She offers a lot of humor, especially in the dialogue banter among the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this addition to her Leandros brothers canon and the in-depth view of Robin Goodfellow.