This book started out as part of a push to read more urban fantasy – specifically more books from either Wisconsin authors (see Rule #36 – The Local Author Rule) or members of the League of Reluctant Adults. Just a hint, Rob Thurman does not live in Wisconsin. So while this started off as reading a new series from a Leaguer and accounting for it in the February New Author Challenge, it has become so much more. If you are not following Rob Thurman in Twitter, then you are blissfully unaware of her smurf obsession. But this is a review of her writing, not her online activities.
The book centers around Cal and Nik, a pair of brothers – one of which was fathered by a demon-like creature they call Grendels. Nik is the full human of the pair, but a painfully health-conscious martial arts “super-ninja.” Cal (short for Caliban) is more of the free spirit. He likes to drink beer, eat cheeseburgers and can use his otherworldly abilities (strength and speed) to make up for his lack of training and discipline.
Even before I saw the statement online, I could tell the similarities between this book and the show Supernatural (which came out at the same time as the first book). One big difference is one of them being half-supernatural themselves and another is that they are spending their time on the run from the supernatural threats of the world, not confronting them in an effort to help people. You see they are on the run from the Grendels who kidnapped Cal when he was 16 and they were moving out of the trailer that their gypsy mother and them shared. When he appeared a couple days later he was a couple years older. (Which is more of a parallel to Angel than Supernatural, but still cool.)
As an introduction to the world and the way it works, this was a solid piece. It gave us not only a solid understanding of how the brothers worked, but the world that they lived in – that supernatural underworld that was part of New York, but not as much a part of it as it is in say Dead to Me by Anton Strout. The book did seem a lot more “thick” than it actually was, and my one issue with it would be that the ending seemed to drag a bit but still lead well into the next in the series without having a overdone cliffhanger.
Overall I would give it around a 3.5 or a B, I might go as high as a B+ but the Papa Smurf comment towards the end of the book hit a little close to home. For those of you not following Rob Thurman or me in Twitter, that is not really supposed to make sense. I cannot await to dive into book two of the series, but Richelle Mead is next in my February challenge and I am behind in my reading.