Saturday, 9 August 2014

Fallen Hard

There's really only one reason I'm willing to be the first in a bookstore, giving up my pre-order and technically paying twice to walk out with another copy instead of waiting for my own. That would be the release of the newest novel in an absolutely stellar series. I've been waiting for Downfall by Rob Thurman since the beginning of the year. I knew what to expect when I started reading the novel, and as expected, my expectations were well beyond exceeded. This is without question one of the best in a series that was incredible to start with.

The cover is Cal all over.
In this latest novel, brothers Cal and Niko Leandros find themselves in even more trouble than before– not only is Cal's vicious doppelganger Grimm looking to end the game between him and Cal, but the secret human army bent on keeping a cover on the supernatural, has decided that Cal has become too much trouble and needs to be dealt with. Permanently. To make things even more complicated, Cal's half-monster is now making itself known physically as much as mentally. The only way Cal can keep his loved one safe is to finally embrace that monster, and even that might not be enough to save them...

Thurman has a tendency to tell first person POV's from different characters. This has been true in a lot of the Cal Leandros series as well as in her criminally underrated Chimera novels. In this novel, we get to see the perspectives of Cal as well as eternal fan favorite, Robin Goodfellow. Minor spoiler warnings for the next part of the review.

Cal's chapters revolving around his transformation into a full Auphe caught me a little off guard at first. In the opening prologue, he was a complete monster, but still standing with Niko. It's always great to see Cal grow and adapt to his inner monster. That's another thing I've always loved about him– he never tried to hide what he is. Even when it became physically obvious, he didn't challenge it. He never tried to run, because he knew he wouldn't escape his bloodline. Or his brother. Where Cal goes, Niko goes, and when they stood together at the end, I admit there were some tears building.

In Slashback, we learned that Robin had met Cal and Niko before in previous lives, one of those lives being that of Patroclus and Achilles. As possibly the oldest being known to the world, Robin has encountered the brothers over the centuries and been forced to see them die over and over again, then spend hundreds of years looking for them and losing them over again. This time, he vows to change it, and being a trickster nearly as cunning as another one of Thurman's tricksters, Robin's plan is risky, sneaky, and more than a little insane.

I'd always thought of Robin as part of the Leandros clan, but that has never been more true than in Downfall. After seeing the commitment and devotion he showed the brothers, I've come to see him as Robin Leandros. As proven time and time again in the Cal Leandros novels, blood has nothing to do with family. Love, trust, and loyalty are what make up that sacred bond.

I can't even begin to explain how much I enjoyed this story. I mean, it was obvious that I would, and while it was Cal Leandros down to its core, it was a unique story that delivered strong characters, important messages, and enough snark to make me smile. Hardcore fans like me will appreciate the references to Eli, the conniving demon from the Trickster novels. If you don't know who that is or why Robin will always bring up Vegas, read those two novels and find out why.

The one thing I was hoping for more of was Georgina, Cal's one and only love. I know, I know, Reavers, I get that she's difficult, but I like her and she said something in Doubletake that had me wishing she played a more vital role. But with two other books on the way, who am I to say that she might not come back? Might being very, very, very unlikely, but I'm a hopeless, naive romantic. I will never pretend otherwise.

Besides, that is one, trivial wave in an otherwise seamless ocean. Despite my romantic fangirl heart, I refuse to complain or say I was let down in any way. I wasn't. I wanted a Cal Leandros novel that would exceed even my expectations, and I got exactly what I asked for. A genuine, heart-filled novel that had me gripped from start to finish, had me thinking about it endlessly after completion, and made me crave more.

You've heard me say it a million times before, and I'll say it a million times more. Rob Thurman is an exceptional author in every sense, and it boggles my mind that she isn't more well known in the urban fantasy circuit. But that's what people like me are for– we review her books, hoping that more people will come together the more we pound the nail into their heads. I know this review sounds like solely a fan rant (and, hey, I'm not going to deny that it partly is), but trust me when I say that I don't get like this without a reason. It's been about five days since I finished Downfall, and I'm still thinking about it once a day. If that doesn't tell you that you're missing out, nothing will.


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