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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Deathwish (Cal Leandros, Book 4) by Rob Thurman

I haven't reviewed the Cal Leandros series before now, but it's one I've enjoyed in the past. I didn't love it, but I liked it enough that new books were an automatic buy. Until this book, I would have given the series a 7 of 10.

The series is considered dark fantasy, so it seems wrong to complain about it being too dark. It is pretty dark, though.

But more than the darkness factor, the most troubling thing is that in Deathwish the author jumps back and forth from Cal's voice to Niko's voice. (In previous books, we only had Cal's view). Jumping back and forth was jarring, and at times confusing. I'd think we were hearing from Cal and then suddenly realize it was Niko talking. Or, I'd be sure it was Niko, then think maybe I was wrong and it was Cal, and then realize I was right in the first place and it was Niko. But there was a lot of backtracking to try to figure it out.

The storyline was good, the plot was good... but the book just didn't work for me. It took me five nights to read it. I would usually read a book this long in one evening. Maybe one and a half. But on two nights I fell asleep reading it, and on the other nights it just didn't go that fast. I did finish the book, but mainly because I'm invested in the characters. Had this been a first book I don't think I would have made it to the end.

I enjoyed hearing Niko's voice, understanding what makes him tick, and exactly why he sticks by his brother the way he does. But I wish the author had given us Niko's voice in another way. Perhaps a short story in an anthology, or even by giving him his own book. The back and forth thing just didn't work for me. I understand it would have been near impossible to tell this particular story using only Cal's voice, but I wish she'd found a way.

The blurb on this one is short:

Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko are hired by the vampire Seamus to find out who has been following him—until Seamus turns up dead (or un-undead). Worse still is the return of Cal’s nightmarish family, the Auphe. The last time Cal and Niko faced them, they were almost wiped out. Now, the Auphe want revenge. But first, they’ll destroy everything Cal holds dear...

So, the Auphe are back. And there is some relationship stuff between Promise and Niko... trust issues that Niko has to figure out whether he can work through or not. We learn a bit about Promise's history, too. And we learn a bit more about Robin and Ishiah. And we see Cal having to deal more and more with his Auphe heritage, with who he is and who he wants to be.

As I said, after reading the first three books I would have likely given this series a 7 of 10. But after Deathwish, I'm thinking it's a 6 of 10. As for rating Deathwish, I'm giving it a 4 of 10. The things that kept it from being a 2 of 10 are the relationship discussions, the perspective gained by hearing Niko's voice, and the brief sentences here and there of comic relief. And yes, even the plot. It was a good plot. But it wasn't a fun read. And in the end, I want to enjoy reading. It doesn't mean I always have to like what happens, but it does mean that I shouldn't have to wrestle through the prose in order to get through the book.

Book Rating: 4 of 10
Series Rating: 6 of 10

The biggest question of all has to be whether I will buy the next books (the author has contracted for three more after Deathwish). I believe the answer is that I will probably wait a few weeks after the release date and read through the reviews before I make that decision.

1. Nightlife
2. Moonshine
3. Madhouse
4. Deathwish

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