Book Review: Nightlife by Rob Thurman

Thurman’s debut action fantasy is a dark fast-paced tale of two brothers, Niko and Caliban engaged in an ongoing battle with some deadly serious nightmare creatures. Cal is unique, half-human half Auphe, despised by his mother, coveted by his father and protected by his older brother who has shaped himself into a deadly force to be reckoned with. The Auphe or Grendels as the brothers nicknamed them are hideous creatures who live only to cause destruction and ruin. Cal was kidnapped and dragged into their world once; it was an experience neither he nor his brother wishes to repeat so their life is spent on the run. Why the Auphe went through the effort to create Cal and what they want with him is a mystery that eventually unfolds in a chilling bid to refashion the world.

Living in a cheap New York apartment may not sound like much of a life but Cal is tired of running, he would like to see Niko make more of a life for himself then being Cal’s bodyguard. With the appearance of a Grendel, Niko plans to leave town but it is a broken down car, not Cal’s objections that forces them to stay in the city. While searching for a cheap piece of transportation the brothers meet Robin Goodfellows, a puck masquerading as a human who proves an unlikely ally in a knock down, drag out war upon humanity that will pit brother against brother.

While heavy on sarcasm, mythical creatures and black humor, it is the family bond shared by Cal and Niko that adds a humanizing though occasionally overdone, depth to what would otherwise be just another empty horror read. The pacing is a bit jerky as Cal and Darkling sidetrack off into some private musings but remains fast overall. The broad range of unlikely antagonists and protagonists are nicely developed making one hopeful this will not be the last we hear of this diverse cast of characters.

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