Moonshine by Rob Thurman
Cal and Niko are back in New York after saving the world from the machinations of Cal’s unpleasant relatives. With the Auphe out of the picture, Cal’s biggest worries are having to work for his living and keeping his burgeoning love for cute, psychic George under wraps. He and Niko have started their own monster-ass-kicking business with occasional help from Robin Goodfellow and Promise Nottinger, Niko’s vampiric love interest. One of their first jobs is an undercover gig with the werewolf mafia, but what seems at first to be a straightforward assignment quickly goes downhill. When George is kidnapped they realize that they’re caught up in something far more sinister, and now Cal has to conquer his inner monster in order to rescue her. And if that isn’t enough to keep this dynamic duo on their toes, it seems like the Auphe might not be as extinct as they thought.
Cal and Niko are as snarky and bad-ass as ever in this sequel to Nightlife. They might bear scars from their previous ordeal, but they’re not letting a little emotional trauma get in their way. Fans of the first book will be glad to see the return of Robin Goodfellow and George, the psychic.
While I love the dynamic between the brothers, it was nice to see Cal operating on his own for a bit in this book. Niko wasn’t always there to sweep him out of trouble and as a result we got to see Cal step up and hold his own against the baddies. He even got to do some brother rescuing himself.
Cal still struggles with his nature, but there are some new angles that bring out the depth of Cal’s character. He knows he’s not a monster – that was covered in the first book – but now he has to overcome some scary Auphe-like rage and emerging abilities that remind him of a time best left forgotten. I’m really impressed with how Rob Thurman has created this character that is so easy to love without shying away from the darker, grittier aspects of his being half monster. I especially liked that Moonshine begins a discussion about Cal’s future with George and all the messy possibilities his dual-nature brings up. It definitely is something that would have been easy to glaze over, but Thurman doesn’t pull her punches.
I would have liked to see more development of Promise as a character. To me she felt a little flat. She’s introduced as a love interest for Niko in Nightlife but not a lot is said about their relationship or how it develops. This is all right at first because it rings true for the style of the book and Cal’s limited viewpoint. She has a much more substantial role in Moonshine, but our knowledge of her doesn’t really grow with that role. She was just there with very little explanation about her background or why she is with Niko at all. I feel like she could be really interesting if given a chance, but we don’t know enough about her to tell. Her interactions with Cal were very promising, and I’m hoping that her character continues to expand throughout the rest of the series.
I’m a big fan of this series. The characters have really stuck with me, and I’ve enjoyed watching them grow – and occasionally backslide. If you want to find other great books, check out my shelves on Goodreads.
I’ve realized I’m rather behind. Rob Thurman just came out with the seventh book, Doubletake. I’ve read the whole series, but as you can see, I’m still reviewing the second one. I’d really like to give a timely review of the newest book, but I’m kind of a completionist, and I feel weird jumping ahead. So what do you think? Should I go ahead and skip to the newest book, or should I plug away and do them all eventually?