Follow TV Tropes


Characters / The Familiar

Go To

    open/close all folders 

    The nine narrators 

Xanther Ibrahim

Color code: Pink

"Questions uneasy me. Like, they give an answer that doesn't just create one or two more questions but, like forests of them."

A 12-year-old girl living in Los Angeles with her (step)father, mother and eight-year-old twin sisters. She has many health problems and trouble to keep up at school and fit in with her peers. She has the closest bond with Anwar within her family, even though he is not biologically her father. She feels guilty that her mother Astair is sometimes exasperated about her peculiarities. She is described as having black hair worn in two braids, pale skin, one eye azure and the other hazel, and wearing glasses and braces.

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Apart from her epilepsy and other health problems, she also has trouble reading (due to difficulty distinguishing letters / numbers), which resembles dyslexia but isn't named; and is focused on details note  and socially awkward in a manner that reminds of autism.
  • Blind Without Them: She wears glasses described as thick and big, and sees really bad without them. She temporarily loses them when she goes wildly running out of Anwar's car to look for the cat.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: She calls her parents, Anwar and Astair, by their first names. Usually, at least; when she calls him "Daddy", Anwar knows she's probably upset or sad about something.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: By all accounts, she is presented as sweet, and she also is clumsy. The latter part is more played for Drama than played for Laughs like it usually is—it's noted she has many scars due to her falling, bumping into things, etc.
  • Daddy's Girl: Of the third type, because she has a lot of issues he is concerned about. Xanther has a really strong bond with her father Anwar, to the point that the other family members often feel left out.
  • Immigrant Parents: Her father Anwar was born and raised in Egypt. He has lived in the U.S. for a long time now, and while his narrative reveals that some of his thoughts still occur in Arabic, and he often thinks of his youth and his parents back in Egypt, he seems to be more an American than an Egyptian culturally.
  • Like Is, Like, a Comma: She speaks in "Valley Girl" / "Teen Speak", most notably heavily and superfluously using the word "like". She isn't a Valley Girl though, because her character is the complete opposite of the ditzy nature of that stereotype. In Volume 2 it's explained that she adopted this manner of speech as a way to have more time to collect her thoughts while speaking, and to better fit in with her peers.
  • One of the Boys: The group of friends Xanther has made at her new school are boys.
  • Pink Heroine: She's the only one who can be considered the protagonist amongst the Loads and Loads of Characters. She seems to have some supernatural abilities (the reason the cat came to her in Volume 1). And her signature colour is pink—apart from the author's choice to make her page tips pink, she also has a pink phone and whenever what she's wearing is described, it's pink.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Xanther is described as this: "...her hair so black, her skin so white...".

Anwar Ibrahim

Color code: Green

A Los Angeles computer programmer aged 54. Father of three girls (Xanther, Freya and Shasti - though the first is not biologically his daughter, he cares as much for her as he does for his other daughters) and married to Astair. He's of Egyptian descent, from a Shiite mother and Sufi father, and now an atheist. He has a philosophical streak and tendency to question everything, something he shares with his oldest daughter Xanther.

  • Doting Parent: He really loves his three daughters and is a caring and supportive father to them. Xanther stands out since his and her ways of thinking, interests and views on life are the most alike—they have the strongest connection. At times this makes the other family members even feel shut out.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: He is apparently really good at debugging some of the esoteric code Mefisto brings him. He doesn't think a lot about the implications - it literally pays the bills.

Astair Ibrahim

Color code: Orange

"I want it out of our home out of my daughter's life out of my life like yesterday?
fuck the

A 40-year-old woman living in Los Angeles, married to Anwar and mother of three daughters: 12-year-old Xanther and eight-year-old twins Freya and Shasti. She is in university studying Psychology to get a degree to become a family therapist. She is now an atheist, but originally of Irish descent and raised a Catholic. She worries a lot about her oldest daughter Xanther, who has epilepsy.

  • Adult Fear: Astair is constantly worrying that her daughter Xanther will have another epileptic seizure. Xanther has been on medication but that hasn't been effective, and she last had a protracted seizure at her own father's funeral. Plus, Astair worries about Xanther's being bullied and not doing well in several schools. And then her family starts to have serious financial troubles as well, which cause a lot of anxiety for her.
  • Amicable Exes: She and Dov separated when she was pregnant with Xanther, and she's been with Anwar since. Dov and she get along well still. In an interesting twist, Anwar seems to appreciate Dov even more (and vice versa) than Astair herself (Amicable Spouses' Ex?).
  • But Not Too Bi: Astair is mentioned to have had a relationship with another woman twice, but that was long ago and she has been married with men for at least the last 13 years.
  • Parental Issues: Astair mentions that her parents held her back and she didn't feel appreciated by them when she was a child, and she worries she will make the same mistake with her own children now.

Luther / Lutéro Perez

Color code: Black

"You think a color's gonna tell me who I am?"

A gang member of Hispanic descent, in Los Angeles. He was initiated into his gang by a man called Téyo (who is the gang leader), and now is involved in many illegal activities. He also owns dogs he uses for dog fighting.

  • Bad People Abuse Animals: He has fighting dogs, who all have, like it is described, "torn ears, snouts scarred, cloudy eyes, some eyes just gone, testify to a life of combat". He also uses these dogs to purposefully let them kill cats he comes across. He doesn't treat other humans much better than he does animals—he often purposefully humiliates people and is violent and criminal.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Uses many swear words, most of them in Spanish.
  • Symbolism: He appears to walk on water at the end of the first book. He also spreads his arms out in a manner that reminds of Jesus when He was crucified, during it. Not to mention his (first) name's the same as Martin Luther's, the founder of Protestantism.

Oz / Özgür Yıldırım

Color code: Grey

"Maybe he should stop mistaking a habit for love. Maybe he should stop thinking of Los Angeles as a woman and consider more closely the woman who sometimes shares his bed."

A 57-year-old LAPD Detective of Turkish descent (born in Istanbul, moved to L.A. in his teens). He once was passionate about his police work but now (by Volume 1) sees it as a chore and is openly saying he's looking forward to retiring and moving out of L.A. if his girlfriend Elaine can get a job elsewhere. He previously had a relationship with a co-worker, Nyra, who was pregnant with him, but they don't have a child now (what happened to the pregnancy/baby is unclear). He does origami as a hobby and loves jazz music. Reading detective/crime fiction by Raymond Chandler and the like, was what inspired him to become a police officer.

  • The Alcoholic: He spends about every evening after his work in bars, drinking, as he himself says, too much. He wants to cut down but doesn't seem able to.
  • Nice Hat: His cobalt trilby hat is his signature style. Other characters sometimes remark upon it, such as Planski complimenting him with it when he meets her.
  • Workplace Romance: He some years ago had a relationship/affair with his co-worker, also a police detective, Nyra. They now aren't together anymore, but still get along O.k.

Shnorkh Zildjian

Color code: Brown

"No country know Shnorkh enough to care enough to ban him. Shnorkh not care either. Shnorkh already spent all caring. Shnorkh tired now, always tired, especially of history. Barely understand present."

An Armenian-American taxi driver in Los Angeles, who often happens to drive famous or important people around with his taxi. He is described as having a squat face with thick eyebrows and yellow teeth. He is married to a woman called Patil. He insists on speaking in English even with his Armenian friends, even though (or probably, because) as his college professor friend Mnatsagan remarks, his English is still mediocre. He often coughs up blood, due to an unknown ailment (even unknown by himself, as he avoids medical help).

  • The Cynic: Often makes cynic remarks in his text. Maybe downplayed because English isn't his first language and his text shows that, so maybe he comes across harsher than he means. Then again, he also seems depressed, and it probably reflects that.
  • Portmanteau: Refers to himself as an "Armerican". When questioned by another character, he explains that he feels "Not Armenian. Not American."

The Wizard / Cas / Catherine Aa’ala Stern

Color code: Red

"But even with all the black clouds churning beyond, where now and then shafts of noon still slip through, this collision of vapor and current, every so often repeating its clamorous light show, connecting one starless vault to one star-warmed earth, is still not dazzling enough to keep Cas and Bobby from turning away, backs to the world, always craving to return to the rear of the Airstream, where centered before their couch by day and bed by night, wrapped up in an old cashmere sweater, waits her Orb."

A 76 year old computer scientist who since 1998 has been in possession of a mysterious Orb, which allows her amongst other things, when she looks into it, to see into the past. It might have more abilities too. There are four other Orbs, and all are in possession of friends of Cas. A mysterious, sinister organization is hunting Cas and her husband Bobby because of the Orbs, so they are continuously on the run, living in a travel trailer. At the beginning of Volume 1 they are in Marfa, Texas and she finds out most of her friends connected to the Orbs have been murdered or taken hostage.

  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Her full name is Catherine, but she's always called Cas (her initials) by other characters, or her nickname The Wizard (which the fandom in Real Life always uses referring to her).
    • Cas' friends who are involved with the Orbs too are known as The Sorcerer, Artemis, Merlin, Treebeard, etc.


Color code: Yellow

"Many are born into circumstances promising a long life and are surprised when death comes early. But what of those born into circumstances promising a short life who are surprised when death does not come at all?"

A Mexican man; or to be precise, his father is Mexican but his mother is/was not, though nothing is revealed about her heritage; he has lived in Mexico his entire life though. He even reveals that he "can never leave [Mexico]" because of some curse he believes he is under, preventing him to do so. He acts extremely superstitious in general, but doesn't believe in any of that [superstition], he just does it out of "habit". He works for some criminal organization.

  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Acts extremely superstitious, but doesn't believe in any of that himself. Also is referred to as being immortal, but it's kept vague in how far that supernatural part of him is true.


Color code: Blue

"and in case of cat, jingjing don't know much except to keep his big mouth shut. no clue why either. not like cat saysay tiam, shhhhhhh. jingjing don't know where it goes. or how it goes."note 

Singaporean 20-something who had a history of drug abuse before being taken in by his current employer tian li, a woman who works as a healer and spiritual adviser. Now he works as her assistant, a.o. translating for her, and he makes sure she gets paid well (according to jingjing, she is negligent with bartering for her paying prices). tian li has a small white cat that is always with her, most of the time on her shoulder, and jingjing feels repelled by this cat, without knowing why.

  • all lowercase letters: His chapters are the only ones written entirely in lower case. Also the only ones in a sans-serif font.
  • Bilingual Bonus: When he meets raeden's servants, who are Russian immigrant workers in Singapore, they speak Russian amongst themselves in his presence, not knowing he's fluent at Russian himself. As such, he unbeknownst to them picks up that they think he's a thief. He uses this knowledge, and his fluency in foreign languages, to befriend them.
  • Cunning Linguist: jingjing speaks fluent Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian and Singlish / English. This trait also reflects in how his narration is written - mostly Singlish with a lot of Mandarin and sometimes Russian interjected. An important aspect of his job as assistant to tian li is to be her translator.
  • Off the Wagon: Starts using drugs again after having been clear for four years, under the stress of the disappearance of the cat.
  • Recovered Addict: During Volume 01, he's been clean off drugs for four years (this had been instigated by tian li, because she "rescued" him from getting arrested by the police when they met, after which she let him work as her assistant and live in her house on the condition that he quit drugs). Subverted in Volume 02, when he relapses.


The NarCons

Color code: None

"Narrative constructs" whose purpose is to render a segment of reality into a format the reader can comprehend. The multiple different narcons are denoted by different fonts, and they have distinct personalities.

  • Framing Device: The prologues of the books appear to be from their universe. Some of them, anyway.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The books are rendered through them.
  • No Fourth Wall: For them, anyway. By book 4, they appear to be able to leak information in-universe via Xanther and jingjing.

The Cat

A white cat found in a sewage on the streets of Los Angeles by Xanther, and taken home with her to care for him. Was tian li's cat before getting to Xanther.

  • Cute Kitten: Inverted. Everybody except Xanther feels something is very "off" or creepy about it. And then the vet reveals that, despite looking like a kitten from the outside, it is actually very old, something he can't explain. It seems to influence people close to it supernaturally (tian li's healing powers) and physically (Xanther getting sick when the kitten is not near).
  • Really 700 Years Old: Has the appearance of a kitten but when the vet examines him, he inexplicably finds that the cat is very old.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Non-romantic, not even human love, but pet love version. Xanther loves him and desperately wants to take care of him. Her parents however react negatively towards the cat and Xanther's relationship with him: Anwar and Astair find him creepy and worry that he has a bad effect on Xanther. Likewise, back when the cat was with tian li, jingjing also wondered how she could feel any affection for him.

Freya and Shasti

Anwar and Astair's eight-year-old twin daughters, and Xanther's younger sisters. They don't understand why Xanther, with her physical problems, takes so much from their parents' attention, but they do love Xanther. However, they're also more or less living in their own world.

  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Freya is the fresh, bold, outspoken one; Shasti is more quiet and reserved.
  • Theme Twin Naming: The origins of their names might be from different cultures / religions, but they're both named after Goddesses: Freya from Norse origin, Shasti from Indian / Hindu origin. And Freya is the origin of "Friday" in European languages, the 6th day of the week according to the Bible, while Shasti is the 6th day of the lunar cycle.
  • Trickster Twins: Astair mentions she really has to keep a close watch on them all the time in order that they don't pull a scheme. In the first book, Astair takes them to a pet supplies store and they run out of the store into the rain with an expensive dog bed, which Astair is then charged for by the shop.
  • Twin Banter: They often communicate with each other with expressions unique to them both. E.g. in Volume 1, they call each leak in the roof of the house "Itsy-Bitsy-Spider".

Dov Z. Mudd

I told you, I'm also different. What weird can't even begin to describe. Love got me to enlist.

Xanther's biological father, whom she got along well with, but who didn't seem to play a really big role in her life, maybe because he was in the military and often on deployment. He died in Afghanistan 5 months prior to the start of the first book. He got along well with both Astair and Anwar, even though she had left him for Anwar.

  • The Ghost: He died 5 months prior to the beginning of the first book, so is only mentioned in other character's memories and conversations.

Mefisto Dazine

A friend of Anwar and also a computer programmer. When Anwar doesn't succeed in debugging a program, Mefisto is the first person Anwar thinks of asking for help from, as apparently Mefisto is one of the best programmers.

  • The Ghost: During Volume 01 and Volume 02 at least, is often mentioned by other characters (in Anwar's and Cas' storylines), but doesn't appear.
  • PracticalJoke: He pulls a prank on Anwar in the beginning, resulting in Anwar's family's phone and e-mail numbers being outed on the internet and them being bombarded with calls and texts. Though later he says the prank never was supposed to go that far.


A boy who is trying to get into Luther's gang in Volume 1. He lives with his mother, and is naive.

  • Older Than They Look: He is described by the other characters as looking like a little boy, even as "girlish", and Luther thinks he is 14—but he reveals to Luther he actually is 21, to Luther's disbelief—upon which Hopi himself explains that since he has turned 16, he seemingly hasn't aged anymore.


Shnorkh's friend, who is also Armenian and who is a college professor who teaches about the Armenian genocide. Shnorkh regards him as being smarter and more handsome than himself. Mnatsangan misses Shnorkh's speaking Armenian, and his playing the violin.


Cas' / The Wizard's husband, aged 77. He has thick white hair and a beard and is physically more fit than Cas. He has been married to her for decades. He is an astronomer with a degree from Berkeley.

tian li

An older lady living in Singapore, who works as a healer. Four years ago she took in jingjing to work for her as her assistant and to live with her. She has a cat that's almost always sitting on her shoulder and that creeps jingjing out. Her neighbors from her apartment building gossip about her, saying something is "off" about her, but that seems to be the effect of her cat—she is benevolent herself.

  • All Witches Have Cats: She's not a witch in the strict sense, but rather a healer who works using faith healing and folk remedies. During the time she had the cat however, she possibly also had supernatural powers, which strongly decreased when the cat disappeared.
  • Cats Are Magic: See "Familiar" below—the cat seemed to increase her healing powers and give her supernatural abilities, and it also made everyone else think something was very eerie about it.
  • Familiar: The cat seems to have functioned as this for her while she had it. Her healing powers were much stronger when she had it.



Example of: