Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

Nightshifted (Edie Spence, Book #1) by Cassie Alexander
Urban fantasy*Mass Market Paperback, 331 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by St. Martin's Press

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…

Okay, I'm going to get this out of the way right now. This is what Edie Spence is not: cuddly and warm, everybody's friend, every guy's squeeze, or easy to get along with. She is not that type of main character/heroine. She's also not arrogant, not a fighter, isn't a witch/vampire/fill in the blank or a superhero. What she is is downright refreshing and the main reason why I enjoyed reading Nightshifted these past few, um, nights. 

Edie is used to being on her own, at 25 she supports herself, is paying off her student loans and is a nurse. In other words, she barely gets by. She had a better position in a better hospital but her older brother Jake is a junkie and she wanted to save him because she loves him and she made a deal. A deal with some shadows to keep him straight and she would do what needed to be done. Edie winds up working on the Y4, a secret underground floor at County Hospital where the weres/shifters/vampires/dragons, the supernaturals, are taken to convalesce as well as the daytimers, the human servants who help the vampires by giving their blood and services. Thankfully, Cassie Alexander's vamps are dark and true to their original monstrous selves, and it's a vamp that sets off this first installment of the urban fantasy series. 

Edie is responsible for for the accidental turning to ash of a servant and in her guilt, tries to abide by the man's dying words to find someone named Anna. Against her better judgment, nurse Edie goes after work to the man's apartment and is not ready for what she finds there. A mystery of vamps using other races/factions of vamps and more. Being attacked, bitten, and hissed at by bloodsuckers is only part of what she endures in order to do the right thing--even if it includes her risking her own life to safe someone else.

It took a few chapters for me to warm up to Edie but with her weird job and those strange shadow beings certainly piqued my curiosity. What cemented my fondness for her was the dragon scene. I'm puzzled by Meaty and wonder if we'll find out more about this ambiguous character in Moonshifted. Edie certainly has a strange lot of supporting characters from the other night shifters to her zombie boyfriend Ti to her unreliable brother. And through it all she remains steadfast and strong in her convictions, no matter how close to danger these convictions bring her, and retains her sparkling snark. Before her trial she is concerned about who will feed her cat Minnie and things like that make a character real and grounded. I even liked Archer at the end and warmed up to her co-worker Charles. 

For an offbeat paranormal tale with a touch of romance, a few doses of blood and gore,  unpredictable action, and an urban loner with a heart of steel, (and a cute cat) Nightshifted is the book for you. Moonshifted will be available next month.


Favorite excerpt: "My nightmare was interrupted by a familiar weight at the end of my bed. I moved my feet so that Minnie could come near.

But the weight increased. It rolled alongside me, and I wondered if it was part of my dream, or one of those dreams--even worse than the one I'd been having--where you wake up and none of your limbs work, the kind that inspired alien-abduction stories, as if aliens were the worst things there were. The weight crept higher, to be beside me, taking up more space than Minnie ever had. It fit against me, hip to hip, back to chest, the curve of legs to legs. Frizzy hair tickled underneath my chin.

I don't think I could have been so still if I hadn't been so exhausted. But I didn't blink my eyes open, or scream, or shift around in bed. I thought one thing. What if she bites me? but I wasn't alarmed by this, only deeply tired at the thought of having to be afraid again.

And then she turned to pick up my arm from where it'd been folded up against my chest to wrap it around herself, and tuck my hand against her cheek. I thought I could feel the beating of her heart, but then realized that was silly, that it just must be my own. Exhausted, I inhaled the sweet-sour scent of Anna's still unwashed hair, sighed, and went back to sleep." (pages 265-266)

Cover comment: This cover's okay, at least the model's pose is reminiscent of Edie. As for the white uniform, that's not what Edie wears. Anyone who has the book knows she wears green scrubs. And where's her lanyard?

Book source: Purchased the paperback.

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