Cal Griffin is not having a good day. Faced with the opportunity to drain as much money as possible from one of the clients at the law firm he works at, he tore up a certain document and got that client off the hook. He's about to be unemployed, and it's going to be a lot harder for him to provide for his younger sister, Tina.
But then the power goes out—not just in his town, but across America, and probably the rest of the world as well. Strange creatures appear, some walking the streets, others hiding from the light. Tina is now translucent and levitating, and Cal's boss is growing scales and breathing fire.
For Cal Griffin, and many other people, things are about to get a whole lot worse.
- Amoral Attorney: Averted with Cal, played straight with Stern.
- Anti-Magic: Dragon skin provides some protection from harmful magic. Even when it's no longer on the dragon.
- Body Horror: The transformations are initially presented like this. Later on the process to prevent them is instead treated as awful.
- Breath Weapon: A standard draconic ability. "Mind if I smoke?"
- Cluster F-Bomb: The first and only line spoken by a "white-trash" villain is "I'm gonna fuck you up, you fucking fucks!"
- The Final Temptation: Not for Cal, but for Doc, who's offered a chance to enter an illusion of the time when his wife was still alive.
- Fusion Dance: In the most disgusting way possible. The researchers who caused the event are still alive, after a fashion, but they've melded into a writhing mass of flesh.
- HeelFace Turn: Stern.
- Idiosyncratic Cover Art
- Involuntary Transformation: Mostly into goblin-like or fairy-like creatures, though dragons and Living Shadows also appear.
- Kill 'Em All: Defied. Cal has the chance to seal away the magic, but he would kill the entire cast in the process. He refuses, and the changes stay.
- Lazy Husband: Coleen's husband.
- The Magic Comes Back
- Magic Music: A singer in the second book developed this after the catastrophe. Unfortunately, his record contract is now magical as well, and any time he tries to use the magic he violates the contract, with unpredictable and often unpleasant results.
- Magnetic Hero: Cal picks up quite a lot of allies (though they're hardly a disciplined force.)
- Married to the Job: Doc was like this back in Russia, though he had more of an excuse than normal—he was a doctor, and during and after the Chernobyl disaster he became determined to save as many lives as possible, at the expense of his home life. When his wife died in an accident, he came to regret the time he didn't spend with her.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When Cal and company pass through a theme park, a villain animates all the park's animatronic dolls to attack them. This battle is not described, although we find out that Goldie came away wearing the stovepipe hat that formerly belonged to the Lincoln doll.
- Our Presidents Are Different: The president is depicted as President Personable.
- Personality Powers: The transformations, after a fashion—for instance, Stern was a fire-breather long before he was a dragon.
- Phlebotinum Bomb: What initially caused the changes.
- Power Crystal: Gemstones allow technology to function, and if sewn into someone's skin in the right place can prevent them from transforming.
- Promotion to Parent: Since Cal was 18 when his mother died, he ended up adopting his younger sister Tina.
- Psychic Powers: Goldie sometimes sees the future.
- The Quest: Cal goes from one end of the country to the other to find Tina.
- Raising the Steaks: The Great Plains are once again filled with buffalo, albeit of a more skeletal nature than normal.
- Sacrificial Lamb: The psychiatrist.
- Shout-Out: When one character introduces himself to Cal with "Hello. My name is Inigo," the narration notes that Cal half-expects him to continue "You killed my father. Prepare to die."