Nightshifted: Nurse Edie Spence’s first adventure

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsNightshifted by Cassie Alexander science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsNightshifted by Cassie Alexander

Edie Spence has a degree in nursing and a job at the County Hospital, in the Y4 ward. County Hospital, the public hospital that treats everyone, insured or not, is a tough gig at any time — Y4 is both tougher and weirder, being the floor that treats daylight servants of vampires, vampires themselves, shapeshifters, and all sorts of were-folk. Oh, and did I mention zombies? The work is hard and dangerous, the pay is abysmal, but by working here, Edie guarantees protection for her junkie brother.  As Nightshifted opens, Edie is consigning her decision to just one more in a long list of bad life choices.

Then a vampire patient dies, but not before giving Edie a puzzle, or perhaps placing her under a compulsion. When the night shift is over, Edie goes out searching for a person named Anna, the vampire’s dying request. She finds a dark apartment with a wall of pictures of young girls being abused… and then the story gets creepy.

This first outing of the EDIE SPENCE series introduces both the Y4 floor and the paranormal world Edie inhabits, while dishing out a pretty good story. Anna is a nine-year-old girl, but she’s been one for about a hundred years. Once Edie finds her — I should say once Edie finds her the first time — Edie’s problems are only beginning. She’s being tracked by a vampire bounty hunter, and expected to appear before a vampire court where the verdict has already been decided. (Spoiler alert: It’s not in her favor.) She’s inherited a German ghost who speaks through a CD player. The ghost wants to be helpful, but unfortunately, Edie speaks no German. On the bright side, she meets a sexy Englishman at a bar and has a steamy one-night-stand, but also hooks up with an equally sexy zombie firefighter.

In between the plot points, Edie shares with us the experiences of a nurse. Cassie Alexander is the pseudonym of a working nurse. Even though the patients are paranormal beings — including a memorable dragon — Alexander captures the camaraderie, professionalism and cynicism of nurses, and the complete gonzo-ness of the profession. I mean, her patients are supernatural, but they wouldn’t have to be.

Edie’s challenging relationship with Anna and the vampire court is exciting, but what the book did best was provide a new kind of urban fantasy protagonist, with a narrative voice that manages to be fresh and world-weary at the same time, while laying out the rules of this paranormal world. According to Amazon, there are currently five books in the series.

The adventures are tense and scary, the tone is sometimes snarky, sometimes wistful, the world is believable, and the sex is steamy. Paranormal romance is not my go-to subgenre, but I enjoyed Nightshifted and I’ll check out a few more, just to see what kind of trouble Edie gets herself into. And I hope she takes a class in conversational German!

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… “Cassie Alexander’s first book about Nurse Edie Spence is dark and energetic. You’ll really enjoy it; I’m looking forward to reading the others in the series.”Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Vampire Mysteries.

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Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at deedsandwords.com, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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