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Literature / Cal Leandros

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The Japanese cover of Madhouse, illustrated by Yuh Takashina as Kazusa.

Cal Leandros is half-human, half evil elf. His mother was 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 him), 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 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:

  • Nightlife
  • Moonshine
  • Madhouse
  • Deathwish
  • Roadkill
  • Blackout
  • Doubletake
  • Slashback
  • Downfall
  • Nevermore

Additionally, Thurman has self-published a number of short stories for the characters

"Rob" Thurman is a Moustache de Plume for Robyn, revealing her full first name only in the fourth book of the Cal Leandros series About the Author. She has also written the Trickster novels, Trick of the Light and The Grimrose Path, and the Korsak brothers' series Chimera and Basilisk,, as well as the non-speculative mystery novel, All Seeing Eye. The Trickster series is set in the same universe as the Cal Leandros stories and include Robin Goodfellow as a character.

Though Everwar was intended to be the last book in the series, it was cancelled without a word and the author vanished from social media without an update, leaving the series fate up in the in the air.

Cal Leandros provides examples of:

  • Bad-Guy Bar: Ishiah's peri-staffed bar is a haven for all paranormal types.
  • Bros Before Hoes: 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'.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Madhouse, Cal gives Wahanket a gun as an offering, since he couldn'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.
  • 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 is an anti-healer. Basically a walking plague bomb, his healing ability is comparable with a nuclear reactor, and he wants to cause harm.
  • 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.
  • Enemy Within: The Darkling does this to Cal, possessing his body to use it for the Auphe.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Niko loves swords. Cal prefers Cool Guns. The pros and cons of the weapons are oft-debated.
  • 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.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The plot of Blackout involves Cal suffering amnesia due to 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.
  • The Medic: Rafferty is the brothers' werewolf friend and on-demand healer who can work miracles. He's so good at healing that he healed his cousin of their lycanthropy and stuck him in wolf form permanently.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body:
    • Cal is losing his humanity and what conscience and empathy he has as his Auphe half becomes dominant.
    • Catcher is slowly losing his human patterns of thinking the longer he stays a wolf.
  • One-Gender Race: Pucks are all male and reproduce if not nonsexually then very much without need of two parents.
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race: By the fourth book, Cal is the last remaining male Auphe that the Auphe are aware of, so they try to kidnap him as a breeding stud.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Cal believes that the peris and the Greek gods with wings are probably the origins 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. Slashback reveals that peris are former angels who quit heaven for Earth.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are born, and thanks to modern technology can live off supplements rather than drinking blood.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolves actually evolved from wolves. According to one of the Wolf characters, they aren't humans who can turn into wolves. It's the other way around, and many of them would like to go back.
    "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: Zombies are called revenants and they're actually alive, for all that they resemble rotted corpses of adult humans.
  • Pet Monstrosity:
    • Salome the mummy cat.
    • Blackout: Spartacus is a mummy tomcat that Cal gave to Robin to keep Salome in line. There's also the three cats Robin gifted to Promise.
  • Plague Master: Suyolak, a walking plague bomb trying to murder people with his off-the-charts healing ability.
  • 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.
  • Psychic Powers: George is a fatalist on the subject of whether or not anything she sees can be changed.
  • Psycho for Hire: Darkling.
  • Reincarnation: Robin knew the brothers in many former lives, recognizing them again in Slashback when he deals with a smart-assed 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 newly mentions something that Cal actually considers worse than being stalked and taken by the Auphe. It also mentions that the brothers met Robin as children.
  • 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 dislike 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:
    "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."
  • Significant Name Shift: Cal was named "Caliban" but his abusive mother as a reference to the monster in William Shakespeare's The Tempest. His older brother, Niko, refuses to call him anything but "Cal" until he accepts his little brother might have some monstrousness from his Half-Human Hybrid heritage after all.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Cal and Georgina are both in love, but Cal refuses to risk having children with a human woman and pass on his genetics and doesn't trust birth control. As of Doubletake, she peeks into their future and confirms that any relationship they would have is indeed doomed.
  • Tomboyish Name: George (really Georgina).
  • 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.
  • Winged Humanoid: Peris, which are later discovered to be retired angels and look the part.