Cassie Alexander’s NIGHTSHIFTED: A Review

Most of my friends’ list has gone justifiably apeshit over author Seanan McGuire.  And why not?  Seanan’s got the list of skills it takes to acquire a maddened fan following: a monstrous and engaging imagination.  A deft hand at devising interesting characters.  And the ability to write so fast she can write three different series simultaneously, so every few months see more Seanany goodness delivered straight to your bookshelf.

But there’s a new kid on the block who, I think, also has what it takes to acquire her own rabid fan following.  Her first book in a much longer urban fantasy series, Nightshifted, has been published today.  If you’re smart, you’ll get in on the ground floor.

That woman is one Cassie Alexander, whose debut novel is available for a mere $7.99.  It’s the kind of book that made my bathtub run cold, as I read in the tub and usually get out before I run out of hot water.  But no, Nightshifted kept my ass in cold water, because I wanted to know what happened next.

The hookiness of Nightshifted is evident just in the description:

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…

What I liked about Nightshifted was that we have an imperfect protagonist.  Edie’s prone to having unsafe sex as a way of burning off steam, is too overprotective of her junkie little brother, and her attention occasionally flags when she’s been working an eighteen-hour shift.  She’s not a superhero but a genuine nurse, her flaws balanced out by a kind compassion that lets her connect with the monsters who have wound up within her ward.  The whole plot revolves around her willingness to do the right thing, even at a cost to her own life and soul – which makes her not super, but an actual goddamned hero.

Even the inevitable romantic triangle feels fresh, mainly because one of the romantic leads is a firefighting zombie, who’s one of the more unique takes on zombies I’ve seen recently.  He’s a sexy zombie who is still clearly dead, which is something you don’t see that often.

The biggest problem I had with Nightshifted, honestly, was that at times it felt too packed with interesting things.  Cassie’s dazzling imagination is on full display here, from debates on the proper tranquilizers to use on shapeshifters to the hinted origins of the shadow-monster puppeteers of Y4, to OH HEY HERE’S ANOTHER THING WE DON’T QUITE HAVE TIME TO GET INTO.  I know that this will all be explored in future series, but there were several moments where I was like, “Wait!  I hardly got to know you, and… Oh, you’re gone.”  Which is a strength, I suppose, since most books don’t even have one concept I want to see explored further, but still.

In any case, this is a book well worth reading, because Cassie’s driven.  She’s writing a book every six months, and if you liked this I happen to know there’s two more coming down the pike.  And today is her book birthday, a very important day to a first-time author… So if you’re interested, I’d buy Nightshifted now and help out someone who’s just starting out her career.

It’ll be worth it.  Cassie’s going places.

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  1. Nightshifted Thank Yous! (pt 1!) - [...] has good taste in books. What’s more, is he wouldn’t lie ;). He wrote a  Nightshifted review, and it’s …

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