Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roadkill by Rob Thurman

  What is it we all love so much about road trips? From the drug-addled craziness of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to the inanity of Chevy Chase's Vacation, they seem to strike a chord in all of us. Roadkill is definitely one of those, on steroids.

Cal and Niko are approached by the old Rom witch, Abelia-Roo, with a problem to solve. Long long ago, one of the Rom healers, Suyolak, went over to the dark side, and became a killer, instead. Evidently, he was like Ebola and the Black Plague, all rolled into one horrible package. The Rom at the time were able to subdue him and imprison him within a coffin, sealed for eternity, though they were unable to kill him. Someone has stolen the coffin, unfortunately, and one of the seals on the coffin has been broken, letting him begin to work mischief, and if all the seals are broken and he is released, it could be like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been released on the earth, or at least the one called Plague.

Suckers for a sad story, as always, Cal and Niko take on the job, and along with their puck friend, Robin, head across country, chasing the truck containing the coffin, which has been stolen by a man who only knows the legends of Suyolak the healer, and is desperate for the Rom to heal his terminally ill wife.

As the saying goes (sort of) "It takes a healer to kill a healer", so Cal and Niko must first locate their old acquaintance, Rafferty, who once brought Cal back from the brink of death. Rafferty has been on his own quest to find a "cure" for his cousin, Catcher, who is slowly descending into the mindlessness of his Wolf side. Rafferty and Catcher are both werewolves, but when Catcher caught leukemia, Rafferty used his powers to cure the disease, but lost Catcher's human side somewhere in the process. This whole situation makes for a great deal of soul-searching internal conflict for both man and wolf, and produces an interesting side plot for the story.

Also, Cal and his Kin lover, Delilah's relationship has been discovered by Cabal, one of the leaders of the Kin, and she has been told to kill him or give him over to the Kin to kill. Cal's not sure exactly which way Delilah will jump, and she's tagging along on the road trip, riding her motorcycle, providing a slight frisson of fear for Cal every time she gets a little amorous. Cal is also having some trouble fighting off his Auphe half, which grows stronger every time he opens a gate. Since opening a gate gives him a rush like cocaine or opium, the temptation to give in is strong.

With all of these factors in play, the chase across country to destroy Suyolak before he destroys the world gets pretty intense. Lots of great dialog and interaction between the characters, some graphic violence, and a couple of good twists near the end. Dang, is book six out yet?

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