Review: Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander
Cassie Alexander’s debut novel, Nightshifted, was one of the more memorable and creative urban fantasies I’ve read in a long time. Needless to say, I was thrilled to get my hands on an early copy of Moonshifted, Nightshifted’s fast-paced and riveting sequel.
[Note: I have made every attempt to avoid spoilers for Nightshifted. Read my review of that book here.]
Moonshifted picks up shortly after the events of Nightshifted, in which nurse Edie Spence finds herself embroiled in a terrifying battle with supernatural creatures, barely escaping with her life. Edie is still a nurse on Y4, the secret ward for paranormal beings of all sorts, as part of a deal to save her brother from addiction. She’s still broke, she’s still lonely and she’s still self-destructive. The only thing that’s changed is that she’s started to form connections with her follow Y4 indentured health care workers, all of whom have a story about why they’re trapped in a dead end job caring for the paranormal.
Floor Y4 catered to the supernatural creatures that no one else knew about: werecreatures in their mortal phases, the daytime servants of the vampires, the sanctioned donors of the vampires, and shapeshifters that occasionally went insane. And sometimes zombies, whom nurses occasionally dated, with poor outcomes. At the thought of my now twice-dead love life, my urge to make small talk chilled.
While on her lunch break with one of those co-workers, Edie witnesses a man being struck by a hit and run driver. Except the man isn’t actually a human—he’s a werewolf. Edie and her coworker save the werewolf, but it lands her in the position of caring for the werewolf who’s in a coma on Y4. Meanwhile, in the midst of this, Edie’s also roped into further involvement with Anna, the teenager vampire she saved in the previous novel.
It’s not long before the injured man’s werewolf pack descends on the ward and Edie finds herself entangled in an internal conflict within the pack, and with her interesting piqued by Lucas, who is in line to becoem pack leader, should Edie’s patient die.
Edie tries to remain level-headed within the chaos swirling around her, but once her apartment is ransacked by vampires, she has no choice by to align herself with Lucas in order to save herself.
This is why I like this series and Edie’s character so much: she does what she has to do, even when the choices are terrible.
Despite that Edie is in a pretty lousy situation, she’s very aware of herself and the impact of her actions. Even when she makes bad choices (as in the first novel with her self-destructive behavior related to men), there’s awareness about the potential for really bad things to happen.
I’d just pledged my help to a teenage-looking but hundred-year-old vampire whom I knew had a temper and a half. There was no way this could end badly, right?
This is refreshing considering that in so much urban fantasy—and even more so in its cousin paranormal romance—the female leads don’t have a tremendous amount of agency, nor do they suffer the consequences of their actions and decisions. For Edie Spence, consequences are a daily reality.
“Can your friend in the friend zone make a friendly suggestion?”
“This time. For real. Get the fuck out of town.”
I bit my lip and looked at the hardwood floor. “I still need my job to protect Jake, Asher.”
“He looked pretty clean to me.”
“Yeah, he’s good at that.”
I put my hands up to my head and ran them through my hair. “There’s just never any guarantee it will last.”
“You know, some people who knew you might say your life was worth a little more than his.”
I lifted my head up and glared at him. “Asher—”
“You’re a nurse, you help people, you give back to the community—you pay taxes. What does he do?”
“He’s my brother—” I protested.
“A lot of people start off life with siblings. But when you die, you die alone.”
I inhaled and exhaled a few times. “I’m not ready to give up on him yet.”
“I bet. It’s fun feeling needed, until it gets you killed.”
But that’s not to say Moonshifted is all serious and angsty.
Because Edie’s finally making connections with other people (besides her ne’er-do-well brother), the humor that was present in the first book is even more pronounced in the sequel.
I thought about asking him for inappropriate things— then briefly remembered the naked men I’d just seen and Gideon’s parts at home. I really didn’t need any more random genitalia in my life, and Gina and I needed to go.
Particularly fun is Edie’s growing closeness with Gina, a coworker from Y4, who has paranormal problems of her own.
“Let me get this straight. You were dating a were … bear?”
She nodded sorrowfully, her face cradled against the side of the porcelain bowl. “I have to ask. Were there any brightly colored insignias on his chest? Like a rainbow, or an ice cream cone?”
“What?” she said, peering up. “You know. Like a Care Bear.”
“Fuck you, Edie.” She closed her eyes, like that would make me disappear.
“I’m just saying that if I were dating a were- bear, I would carefully check him over for any lame tattoos. Like of candy canes. Or sunshine.”
“Fuck you and fucking were-bears.” She snorted.
Moonshifted raises the stakes for Edie in the next book, Shapeshifted, and because of the events at the climax of Moonshifted, I can’t even begin to guess where this series is headed. (Incidentally, I would not characterize the ending as a “cliffhanger,” because the story in Moonshifted is resolved, but Big Things happen at the end which left me internally screaming that I want Shapeshifted NOW!) I’m particularly curious how Edie’s relationships (both with her friends from Y4 and her maybe-something with Lucas, the werewolf leader) will play out, given that her life is in such tumult.
Alexander is ruthless with Edie, never really giving her a break and pushing her to the point that I wonder how she’ll find a way to be happy and “normal.” Things look bleak for Edie, and I wonder what other obstacles will be thrown into her path—and if a certain zombie will return. Naturally, I cannot wait to follow her journey.
Cassie Alexander’s Edie Spence series, along with Jenn Bennett’s Arcadia Bell books, stand out among a sea of new urban fantasy series as distictive, creative and as striking the right balance between action and character drama. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy and your not reading both, you’re missing out.
Also on CEFS: Nighshifted (Edie Spence #1) Review
FNL Character Rating: Tyra Collette
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Nightshifted is currently only $2.99 in ebook form.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided to me by the publisher.