Night Shift Dragons by Rachel Aaron science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsNight Shift Dragons by Rachel Aaron

Night Shift Dragons by Rachel Aaron science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsRachel Aaron’s DFZ (DETROIT FREE ZONE) series comes to a conclusion with the third novel, published in 2020, Night Shift Dragons. For this review, I’ll assume you’ve already read its predecessors, Minimum Wage Magic and Part-Time Gods. (There will be spoilers for those books in this review.)

The story begins right where Part-Time Gods left off. In that novel, we watched Opal suffering under the authoritarian maneuvers of her father, the powerful Dragon of Korea. He put a bad-luck curse on Opal to try to force her to leave the DFZ and return to North Korea. Despite this poor treatment, when her father encountered his own misfortune and his life was threatened, Opal came to his rescue.

Now the two of them are reluctantly stuck together and off the grid in the DFZ. Opal continues to work as an appraiser for the city’s avatar, and to train with her own magic, while she tries to nurse her father, who is basically a ghost, back to health. She worries that if he doesn’t get back to Korea soon, the country may be destabilized. All of this daddy-daughter time causes a lot of stress, but it also allows them to finally begin to understand each other.

Meanwhile, Nik doesn’t know if Opal is alive, or even if she wants to see him after she walked out on him in the previous book. Tragically, he has sold his services to the crime boss who requires Nik to fight in the arena in the unregulated section of the DFZ called Rent-Fee. When Opal and her father attend one of Nik’s brutal fights, they discover the presence of evil magic which they hope they can destroy. To do this, they will need a lot of help from friends and enemies alike.Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron

Night Shift Dragons is a satisfying, even sweet, finale which heralds a hopeful future for the DFZ. There are a few too many speeches in the novel, and I was bored by Opal’s magical training sessions, but the story is, overall, entertaining, the characters are likable, the setting is really cool, and the plot is, as usual for Rachel Aaron, well-paced.

It was nice to see some characters from the HEARTSTRIKERS series, and I especially loved the unexpected appearance of a character who’s new to this trilogy that we get to see an entirely new light at the end of this novel.

If you’re planning to read the DFZ trilogy, I highly recommend the audio versions narrated by Emily Woo Zeller.

Published in 2020. They say family always sticks together, but when you’re your dad’s only lifeline and the whole world—humans, dragons, and gods—wants you dead, “family bonding” takes on a whole new meaning. My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m in way over my head. I thought getting rid of my dad’s bad luck curse would put things back to normal. Instead, I’m stuck playing caretaker to the Great Dragon of Korea. That wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t such a jerk, or if every dragon on the planet wasn’t out to kill him, or if he was my only problem. Turns out, things can always get worse in the DFZ. When a rival spirit attacks my god/boss with the aim of turning the famously safety-optional city into a literal death arena with Nik as his bloody champion, I’m thrust onto the front lines and way out of my comfort zone. When gods fight, mortals don’t usually survive, but I’m not alone this time. Even proud old dragons can learn new tricks, and with everything I love falling to pieces, the father I’ve always run from might just be the only force in the universe stubborn enough to pull us back together.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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