Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass market paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release date: May 22, 2012
Series: Edie Spence #1
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed by: Jenn
From debut author Cassie Alexander comes a spectacular new urban fantasy series where working the nightshift can be a real nightmare. Nothing compares to being Nightshifted.
Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine—from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond…
Edie’s just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed. But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she’s haunted by the man’s dying words—Save Anna—and before she knows it, she’s on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul. Grey’s Anatomy was never like this…
I was very excited when NIGHTSHIFTED showed up in the mail. (Thank you, Cassie!) I think it has an excellent premise – a secret hospital ward for supernaturals – that is just rife with possibilities. And the fact that Cassie Alexander is a registered nurse gave me hope that the setting would be exploited to the fullest. To a certain extent, it was, and I greatly enjoyed the scenes at the hospital. Edie works with an interesting team on the night shift and many significant events take place in Y4 and the rest of the hospital. There's a really great scene with a dragon shifter and we see some truly interesting patients in Y4. These were probably my favourite scenes in the book because it offers us a perspective we don't often see in urban fantasy or paranormal romance.
The bulk of the story, however, involves Edie's promise to the dying man mentioned in the cover copy. Edie quickly finds Anna but the events surrounding her success lead Edie further down the garden path and she's quickly sucked into vampire politics. (That pun was very unintentional, I promise you.) Cassie Alexander has created an interesting world and I enjoyed learning about the different supernatural races and hierarchies. She’s populated her book with a wide variety of supernaturals and it made the novel a lot of fun. I thought the Shadows and Anna were the most interesting and I hope to learn more about them in future stories. And I absolutely need to know what’s going on with the German-speaking CD player. (You’ll feel the same way after you finish reading, believe me.)
I also really liked the fact that Edie is just a regular person. She doesn’t have powers but she’s doing the best she can. Most of her decisions – even the ones that end badly – are made with other people’s welfare in mind and it’s nice to see a selfless heroine. (As an example, she took her job in Y4 because the powers that be promised to stop her brother’s drug addiction.) As a human surrounded by supernaturals, it would be easy for her to feel overwhelmed, which does happen, but she does her best to get through life and build relationships.
On the downside, there were a couple moments where the book fell flat for me. It's hard for me to pinpoint why but NIGHTSHIFTED didn't suck me in the way some of my favourite books do. I was reading it while travelling and I could put it down and go about my business without regret, which isn't the case with some of my faves. On the other hand, though, I was happy to get back into the story when I had time and I was curious to see what would happen to Edie and Anna. I also wasn’t sold on a zombie for a love interest at first. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Resident Evil? Don’t get me wrong, Ti (the zombie) is a well developed character with all the makings of a great love interest but I guess I’m more inhibited than Edie because I don’t think I could kiss a guy who can put himself back together with replacement parts. Intellectually, I know it’s probably no grosser than kissing a vampire, who’s also undead, but it took a while for me to come around to the idea. But I think it’s a very original idea and I love writers who do the unexpected.
Before I close, I’d like to take a moment to admire the cover. It really captures the spirit of the novel (complete with the dragonshifter I mentioned!) and so I wanted to heap some praise on the artist, whose name I can’t find. Kudos, anonymous artist. (Does anyone know who did the cover art? I’d really like to know.)
All in all, NIGHTSHIFTED has a lot of promise. It's not a perfect novel but the trilogy's world and characters have so much potential that I look forward to seeing what Edie gets up to next in MOONSHIFTED, which comes out in November.