Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
Series: Edie Spence #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Published on: May 22, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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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…
The main character and the fact that the next installment is called Moonshifted (i.e. werewolves!) are the first things that caught my eye and convinced me to read this title. A human female heroine is a rare bird in Urban Fantasy; they’re normally all about leather/swords and, one that’s a nurse in a paranormal hospital ward is unheard of. Cassie Alexander has expertly created a unique universe that’s populated with peculiar personalities and she was even bold enough to throw in a zombie love interest!
Edie is a very down-to-earth character with real life problems; she’s definitely not your typical Urban Fantasy heroine. Her profession isn’t glorified; she’s not a cop or a private investigator, she’s a nurse. When she finds herself in danger over a stupid mistake at work instead of taking time off to deal with the problem she trudges on because her rent won’t pay itself. I really liked how Alexander managed to incorporate the “real world” into this paranormal story. In most books, characters’ jobs often end up forgotten in the midst of all the action so the fact that Edie continued to show up for work every night really impressed me. Cassie didn’t take the easy route by giving Spencer special powers to help her cope with her circumstances; she just has to make do like the rest of us.
The hospital aspect of this novel is interesting and authentic; it’s a far cry from all of the medical-type dramas we watch on TV. The terms are dumbed down enough so that the average reader can understand the content without diminishing the patients and their ailments. Alexander also has quite a bit of leeway for creativity as well because most of the diseases are paranormal in nature and there aren’t exactly any recognized treatments for them! I found the vampire lore to be rather confusing; the various thrones, governing bodies and subgroups aren’t adequately explained. I understand that Edie didn’t take a “caring for supernaturals” class but I think readers would have benefited from some additional details.
The most interesting element for me was Spencer’s romantic relationship with a zombie. It’s something that up until this point I’d thought impossible or at least taboo. There were definitely a few moments where I couldn’t help but cringe; the whole idea of making out with one of them creeps me out, particularly later on when he “acquires” new body parts. The lips that Edie kissed are no longer the same ones as when they first met. Eww! I enjoyed Ti as a character, he has a good heart and means well, it’s just his methods that are… questionable. This book also ran a little long in my opinion, Alexander focuses on some aspects that aren’t crucial to the plotline while leaving out others that would have helped the story along. There are also several holes that are never filled such as grandfather a.k.a the German talking CD player. Where does he come from? What is he? What is he saying?
Nightshifted is a strong debut that introduces an intriguing new world to the Urban Fantasy genre. I hope that some of the kinks get ironed out in the next installment but overall, I think that Cassie Alexander is definitely on to something!