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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 fairy. 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 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:

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

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.


Cal Leandros provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Masquerade: The Vigil operate as "supernatural janitors" to maintain it.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.


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