Roadkill (Cal Leandros, Book 5)
by Rob Thurman
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451463197
Date: 02 March 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Cal and Niko Leandros have had to save the world more than once. Well, it's time to do it again, when an immortal (and psychotic) gypsy healer escapes. Unless they can find and stop him, he'll unleash a plague upon the world--just for the fun of it--and humanity's days will be numbered.
Some days, it doesn't pay to be a hero.
Cal and Niko find themselves in hot water once again in Roadkill, their newest adventure from author Rob Thurman. Seems that the gypsies have lost a threat to the entire world--a deathless "anti-healer" kept sealed in a sarcophagus--and need Cal and Niko to find him; if they don't, he'll escape and unleash a plague that will eliminate humanity.
This sets the brothers on a road trip, heading cross-country in hopes of catching up to and stopping the gypsy Suyolak (aka the Plague of the World). Things are never as simple as that--the two have to deal with angry werewolves (who don't like Cal dating smoking-hot werewolf Delilah) and Cal's growing addiction to using his Auphe-derived powers.
With their friend and benefactor Robin Goodfellow, they seek out the best help they can find: another healer. In this case, that happens to be Rafferty, whose closest friend is Catcher, who is far more than he seems. This mismatched group chases after Suyolak, finding that this waking monster has far more powers than just healing--he's able to mess with their minds as well. And in Cal's case, that's a very dangerous thing, as his inhuman Auphe heritage isn't as deeply buried as he'd always believed.
Told through multiple viewpoints, Roadkill represents a new high point for this urban fantasy series. Thurman has broken new ground, expanding the mythology of her world in new and ingenious ways, while offering new challenges to her heroes. The choices they make are more difficult than ever, with more heartbreaking consequences (the finale of the story is perhaps the most emotionally moving bit of writing I've read this year). Truly, the brothers have rarely been asked to risk--and sacrifice--this much to beat the bad guy.
And what a bad guy. Suyolak is a monster in every sense of the word. Drunk with power, he wants to crash the system simply because he can. He represents the flip side of Cal, in a way; where Cal seeks to rein in his darker impulses, knowing how much damage he can do, Suyolak has no such restraint. He has to be put down for the good of the world, but the heroes lack the raw power to make that happen. But the resolution is entirely appropriate and (as noted) moving.
Not the ideal place to begin reading the series, nevertheless, Roadkill is a great addition to the series and will delight Thurman's growing legions of fans.