I am a big fan of Rob Thurman. I feel I can safely say that now, since I usually try not to say I’m a fan if I only like a couple of things an artist has done. But I’ve truly enjoyed all the books of Thurman’s I’ve read so far. I am really, really looking forward to the next Trickster (or is it Trixter?) novel. At any rate, Slashback is the latest in the Cal & Niko books. So, fair warning, SPOILERS be here.

Cal has his memories back and he has come to relatively peaceful terms with the fact that he is in fact a monster. Cal is one of my favorite characters. He is a snarky anti-hero. He doesn’t really care or want to do the right thing but he will never, ever let down his brother Niko.

In this book, we get a bit more of Cal and Niko’s back story. I’ll admit that I came into the Cal & Niko series about mid way and I don’t really have a desire to start at the beginning, though I might do so if I run out of things to read from Amazon. 🙂 Thurman goes over previous information in her books, so with the exception of the first book I read, I don’t really feel lost.

At any rate, we learn that Cal and Niko, who moved around a lot due to their drunken harlot Rom mother (I’m not not saying that because she is Rom, she’s a drunken harlot. She’s drunken harlot that just happens to be written as a member of the Romany peoples by Thurman, so please no trolling). We flash back between a particular move and present day as is often the case with the Cal & Niko stories.

In this case, they’re in the northeast somewhere (Connecticut I think), Niko is about fifteen and Cal is about eleven. Niko is working as a janitor at his school to make money to feed them. This means that he doesn’t accompany Cal home at the end of the day, which worries him because they have been chased by Auphe since the day that Cal was born.

One day, Niko comes home and Cal announces the next door neighbor is a serial killer, just as cool as you please before he goes back to his comic book.  Needless to say, Niko does not believe this but Cal insists on investigating. He smells the blood and death from next door when he walks by because his Auphe half increases his senses, especially smell. Cal can’t hardly go by a hospital let alone in one. Used clothing or bedding can, at this point in his young life, cause actual physical sickness.

Now what does this have to do with present day NYC where Cal and Niko now live? Simple, Cal gets attacked by a group of nutball humans who feel they have to save him or cleanse him or some such thing. They try to kill him, which is a bad idea. He sends them to Tumulus (the Auphe home dimension) for just a few seconds and drives them all even more bonkers than they were. But the strange thing about this humans is that they seemed to know precisely where the division between “safe/human” NYC is and the paien (supernatural) NYC begins.

It becomes clear after a while that there is a creature much more powerful than them pulling the strings of these weirdos, as that creature attacks Cal in the home he shares with Niko. It takes a while, but eventually we get the connection between their recollections and their current situation. The creature that is controlling this modern day nutballs was the same creature that was controlling the serial killing next door neighbor.

Now they know who it is, they have to figure out what it is and how to kill it. I won’t go into too much detail on that part, being that it’s a fairly new book. But I do strongly recommend this one: Rating A. And I recommend the rest of the Cal & Niko books and Rob Thurman’s Trickster novels.

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