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Literature / Cal Leandros

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Cal Leandros is half-human, half evil fairy. His mother got paid by the Auphe to produce a child, and that's all she did. He was raised by his Aloof Big Brother Niko (who was four years old when he was put in charge of a newborn), and Niko has spent his entire life protecting his brother and becoming a badass. They've also been on the run. At age fourteen, the Auphe caught Cal. He came back two days later, two years older, with no memory of the Eldritch Abomination that he'd seen.

Two years later, the guys have settled in New York City and made a few friends. But the Auphe aren't going to let Cal go...

Books in the series so far are:

  • Nightlife
  • Moonshine
  • Madhouse
  • Deathwish
  • Roadkill
  • Blackout
  • Doubletake
  • Slashback
  • Downfall
  • Nevermore
  • Everwar (cancelled)

The author, Rob Thurman, is an example of Moustache de Plume. She has also written the novels Trick of the Light, Grimrose Path, Chimera, Basilisk, and All Seeing Eye. The first two are set in the same universe as the Cal Leandros stories.


Though Everwar was intended to be the last book in the series, it was cancelled, leaving the series fate up in the in the air.

This series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Bad Powers, Good People: Cal finds some good uses for his gate-opening ability, but...
  • Batman Gambit: Delilah's solution to her pack demanding the death of Cal. Her Alpha is dumb enough to believe that a girl can't handle killing a guy. Then she sics Cal on them, knowing that Cal is more badass than her pack.
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  • Berserk Button: Cal and Niko are each other's. Mess with one brother, and the other will come after you. Also, don't hit on Niko in front of Promise.
  • Black Speech: The Auphe language. Cal learned it during his two-year stay in the Tumulus but the ability to speak it is buried in his suppressed memories and only comes out very rarely and only in very bad situations.
  • Body Horror: Abbagor.
  • Bros Before Hoes: Referenced in Blackout, when Cal convinces Niko to get a tattoo. He has Ishiah write the text in Aramaic so that Niko won't be able to read it. When asked what it means, he claims it's 'Bros before Hoes'. It's actually 'Brothers before Souls'.
  • Bus Crash: George in Deathwish. Though since she had developed Mind Manipulation skills in the meantime, she actually faked her death in Grimm's memory.
  • Cannibal Clan: Well, Sawney Beane returns in Madhouse.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Cal won't have sex with anyone who can have children, which rules out the girl he actually loves.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Quite literally in Madhouse. Cal gives Wahanket a gun as an offering, since he couln't come up with anything else on short notice. It proves to have been a bad idea. Good thing Wahanket had had no opportunity to practise shooting.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Again in Madhouse. Seraglio, of all people, turns out to be quite a nasty version. Wahanket is no slouch in the nasty version departement, either, though it comes as less of a shock.
  • Chupacabra: One shows up in Deathwish. They're substantially different from the usual perception. Though Xolo is definitely more dangerous than you'd think.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond (Niko) as well as his father and Dark-Skinned Redhead (George)
  • The Dark Times: Before humans, Earth was ruled by a wide variety of monsters, most of them quite nasty, with the Auphe being the worst.
  • Deadly Doctor: Suyolak.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters, but especially Cal and Robin.
  • Demon Slaying
  • Despair Event Horizon: In every one of their past lives, when either Cal or Niko dies, the other always soon follows. Sometimes it's direct suicide by the survivor's own hand. Other times, the survivor becomes a Death Seeker out for revenge. Their present life is no exception, as illustrated by Niko going coldly and suicidally berserk when he's tricked by an illusion of Cal's bloody corpse.
  • Disappeared Dad: Whoever Cal's dad is, he and his race have been keeping tabs on Cal forever. Also, Niko's dad took off before he was born. And Cherish's isn't even mentioned. It's noteworthy for Cal, for killing his "dad" during his escape from Tumulus, and then for Niko, for killing most of the rest of the Auphe and all of the males, thereby deadending that genetic lineage of evil in the climax of Nightlife.
  • Domino Revelation: If the Auphe weren't bad enough all of the other weird monsters like the Goat Sucker show up or are often mentioned.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Cal.
  • Enemy Within: The Darkling does this to Cal.
  • Evil Counterpart: Grimm.
  • First-Person Smartass: Cal. All the time. He can't open his mouth without snark coming out of it. Catcher is this in Roadkill, though since he can't talk, he types out his comments on a laptop.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires / Our Vampires Are Different: Promise. Vampires are born, and thanks to modern technology can live off supplements rather than drinking blood.
  • Fork Fencing: Amnesiac Cal takes this up in Blackout. On Robin. Multiple times.
  • Gold Digger / Black Widow: Promise has had five rich, elderly, now-dead husbands. Black Widow is most likely a subversion since (a) she's a vampire and would outlive them anyway, and (b) given that she's a generally nice person, she probably made their last few years enjoyable.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: George.
  • Heroic BSoD: Niko at the end of Deathwish. Do not get this guy mad at you.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cal and Niko.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Grimm even mentions the original quote (taught to him by one of the teachers he ate) after his showdown with Cal. Both brothers have to watch this, but Cal the most.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Robin's place of employment.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Cal, of course. By the end of Blackout, he's accepted his monster side and his human side is slowly slipping away.
  • In the Blood:
    • Cal is terrified of going Auphe. Leads to The Dark Side calling, and Evil Feels Good.
    • Niko's father, Kalakos, remarks that their bloodline is said to be descended from Achilles, an idea that Robin reaffirms by saying that Niko and Kalakos look like Achilles. Of course, the truth behind that statement is slightly more complicated...
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Cal to George and Delilah. Justified in that the Auphe have promised to slaughter his loved ones first.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Niko loves swords. Cal prefers Cool Guns.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother:
    • Niko would burn the world to protect his brother. The only reason Cal ever gets near to any combat is because Niko is a firm believer that the only way to be ready for combat is to actually participate in it.
    • Cal reciprocates the sentiment just as strongly. And considering he's slowly slipping into a Sociopathic Nominal Hero over the course of the series with Niko as his sole Morality Chain...the question isn't really if he kills you, but how much he'll make it hurt before he does so.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Robin after getting involved with Ishiah considers monogamy. He puts the word "monogamite" on his business card—along with the number for the suicide hot-line, which Robin figures everyone will need when they learn he is no longer available.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The plot of Blackout involves Cal getting a case of this from repeated! Nepenthe spider venom.
  • The Legions of Hell: The Auphe. Tumulus is just where they hang out when they're not murdering and torturing everyone else for the fun of it.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Cal's nest of 'siblings' in Blackout and Grimm in Doubletake. Also Niko's father Kalakos.
  • Masquerade: The Vigil operate as "supernatural janitors" to maintain it.
  • Meaningful Name: Cal is short for Caliban. His mother made darned sure he knew why he had the name.
  • The Medic: Rafferty.
  • Morality Chain: As Cal's humanity is slowly eaten away by his Auphe side, he comes to consider Niko to be this.
  • Mugging the Monster: a random junkie tries this in Doubletake. His intended victim? Cal.
  • Mysterious Past: Promise doesn't like to talk about the bad old days when she had to kill people in order to eat, and Niko usually doesn't ask.
  • Occult Detective: Cal, Niko and Promise's business.
  • One-Gender Race: Pucks.
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race
  • Our Angels Are Different: Cal believes that the peris and the Greek gods with wings are probably the origin of stories about angels. Given that peris are winged humanoids and that Cal's peri boss, Ishiah, can not only seemingly appear out of nowhere but owns an actual flaming sword, he might have a point.
    • In Slashback, we find out that peris are former angels who quit heaven for Earth.
  • Our Elves Are Different: To quote Cal:
    After all, the Auphe were where the elf myth had started and if you took away the hundreds of needle-fine metal teeth, the scarlet eyes, the black talons, shredding jaws, nearly transparent skin, and a raging desire to destroy humanity, then I guess you were close enough. The pointed ears were the same, right?
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Particularly the ones who got bred to be more werewolf-y. And Catcher, who lost the "were" part of that entirely.
    • Also, according to one of the Wolf characters, they aren't humans who can turn into wolves. It's the other way around:
    "We were wolves first. We started that way. We evolved as wolves and along the way a mutation did occur. We did split from the primary race...but that primary race was wolf."
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They're called revenants and they're actually alive, for all that they resemble rotted corpses of adult humans.
  • Pet Monstrosity:
    • Salome the mummy cat.
    • Blackout has Spartacus, a mummy tomcat that Cal gave to Robin to keep Salome in line. There's also the three cats Robin gifted to Promise. Lucky girl.
  • Plague Master: Suyolak. Dear God, Suyolak.
  • Portmantitle
  • Pointy Ears: The Auphe. See Our Elves Are Different above.
  • Power Limiter: As of Roadkill, thanks to Rafferty, Cal can only open two gates within a period of a few days before he dies. In Blackout, however, Cal implies that he believes his Auphe genetics will eventually override the block. In Doubletake, he turns out to be right.
  • Precision F-Strike: Cal may love the "F-bomb," but when Niko drops it in Deathwish, you know it's serious. It also goes for Slashback, where Niko even drinks soda and wine in that book.
  • Psychic Powers: George, who's a fatalist on the subject of whether or not anything she sees can be changed.
  • Psycho for Hire: Darkling.
  • Purple Eyes: Promise Nottinger.
  • Reincarnation: Robin knew the brothers in many former lives, recognizing them again in Slashback when he deals with a smartassed 11-year-old Cal. He even asks for the brother or cousin or whoever it is that's tied to him, so he can deal with the reasonable one. He says that Niko was once Achilles and Cal was once his cousin Patroclus.
  • Retcon: the plot of Slashback is pretty clearly one, newly mentioning something that Cal actually considers worse than being stalked and taken by the Auphe. Also, that the brothers met Robin when they were kids.
  • Romani: Sophia, Abelia-Roo and the Sarzo Clan. Cal and Niko are half-Roma, not that that counts.
  • Salt Solution: Played for Laughs. While working as a bartender at the Ninth Circle, Cal regularly gets in trouble for forgetting to leave the salt out when making a cocktail for a vodyanoi, causing his boss Ishiah to have to remove slimy, melted vodyanoi from the bathroom floor. Considering Cal's diskile for anything that preys on humans, though, forgetfulness isn't always at fault.
  • Serial Killer: The plot of Slashback is about Cal and Niko dealing with serial killers, both twelve years ago and in the present day.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Although Cal's universe has a few differences with our own—a werewolf Mafia, scientists who have developed a treatment for vampirism, and so on, it also shares a lot of similarities. For example:
    • In Blackout, Cal uses some Meaningful Names as aliases: Calvin F. Krueger, Calvert M. Myers and Calhoun J. Voorhees. It doesn't take him long to recognize that he, a killer of monsters, gets kind of a kick of naming himself after movie monsters.
    • In the same book, he also refers to MacGyver:
    "I could impale a nosy son of a bitch on a Norman Rockwell picket fence if I had to. MacGyver had nothing on me."
    • And he names a mummified tomcat Spartacus.
    • He also talks about Piglet and Christopher Robin not getting over it if he kills a baby monster.
    • His usual nickname for Niko is Cyrano. In Blackout, when he can't quite remember the nickname, he asks Nik if he calls him Pinocchio.
    • When talking about an angry and badly injured Wolf, Cal refers to him as Cujo and Old Yeller and asks for someone to put the poor rabid bastard down.
    • Robin Goodfellow, at one point, asks Cal if he's familiar with the story of Oedipus Rex.
    • Cal heard the story of Peter Pan from Nik when he was seven and Niko was eleven. This becomes a fairly important plot point in Blackout.
    • The Jaws movies also apparently exist in Cal's universe, as he refers to a mummified cat's gigantic yawn as "a preview of Jaws 15, the IMAX version."
    • Cal gets a double Shout-Out with one line: "It's going to be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day, Shelob," I said with enthusiastic dark cheer.
    • Shortly before that, in the same paragraph, he says, "All we needed was Cthulhu singing [the theme song from] Rawhide."
    • He also mentions Spider-Man 3 and Tobey Maguire.
    • On recovering from amnesia, he says that Nik needs his real brother back—"not a Stepford version."
    • In Roadkill, he refers to Spock: "Thank God I hadn't gotten the pointed ears. Who wants to look like a Star Trek or The Lord of the Rings fan boy for the rest of their natural-born lives?"
    • When speaking of an immortal and extremely angry entity who can destroy all life on earth, Cal, referring to the entity's habit of singing Roma dirges, says, "Maybe he'll hit American Idol and that asshole Brit will humiliate him to death."
    • When Cal sees a female revenant giving birth, he refers to her as "the size of Jabba, times two." He also refers to Catcher, a werewolf who is stuck in Wolf form as "Chewbacca."
    • Rafferty's cousin Catcher was named after The Catcher in the Rye.
    • Niko's perfectly deadpan delivery of "We're on a mission from Buddha" while wearing opaque sunglasses...while driving an old Cadillac. Apparently he likes The Blues Brothers
    • Cal read Stephen King's The Stand when he was sixteen and his brother, who was homeschooling him, demanded a book report. According to him, the book scared him nearly as badly as the Auphe do.
    • Cal says of Catcher, "He was the happiest damn Wolf I'd ever run across. Lassie had nothing on him."
    • And he describes Robin offering cologne "like a professional assassin from a James Bond movie."
    • Robin makes a sarcastic reference to Delilah, the Wolf who's Cal's sometime bedmate, "eating [Cal's] liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti."
    • Catcher refers to Flowers for Algernon.
    • Cal tells Delilah that he doesn't care who else she sleeps with: "This isn't Weres and Vamps 90210."
    • Robin refers to his penis as Excalibur.
    • Cal calls being on the run and being in very large wide-open spaces "a Where's Waldo? freebie."
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Cal is lazy, foul-mouthed, sulky, not an intellectual, and loves junk food. Niko is a hard-working, rarely swearing, noble, intellectual guy who is a health food snob. The brothers rag on each other for these traits all the time.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss
  • Son of a Whore: The Leandros boys are well aware of being this. Cherish throws it out as an insult to Cal at one point; he assumes she just "knew" from looking at him.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Cal and Georgina. As of Doubletake she peeks into their future and confirms that any relationship they would have is indeed doomed.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Cal has Perfect Health (other than getting injured all the time, he's been sick once in his life), and can open gates to other worlds.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body:
    • Catcher is slowly losing his human patterns of thinking the longer he stays wolf-only.
    • Cal is also losing his humanity (and what conscience and empathy he has) as his super-potent Aulphe DNA becomes dominant.
  • The Plague
  • Time Abyss: Robin and many of the older pucks. Hob apparently went crazy because of this.
  • Tomboyish Name: George (really Georgina).
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Cal's inability to remember the two years he spent with the Auphe.
  • Trickster Archetype: Robin and Cherish.
  • True Companions: Cal and Niko acquire some in the series.
  • Urban Fantasy: Really speaks for itself in some regards.
  • Warring Natures: Cal is half-human, half Auphe (really really really evil fairy). What are the most despised races in the world? Take a guess.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: After getting amnesia in Blackout, Cal assumes everything nonhuman is a monster. This is really awkward when he's being introduced to his nonhuman friends.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Niko, mostly, as a reaction to growing up with a Consummate Liar mother. He considers his decision to lie to Cal and dose him with Nepenthe spider venom, even to let him stay happy, to be a Moral Event Horizon.
  • Winged Humanoid: Peris.


Example of: