Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer
Series: City of Nightmares #1
on January 10, 2023
Genres: Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult
Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble
Ever since her sister became a man-eating spider and slaughtered her way through town, nineteen-year-old Ness has been terrified—terrified of some other Nightmare murdering her, and terrified of ending up like her sister. Because in Newham, the city that never sleeps and the only other home Ness has known, dreaming means waking up as your worst fear.
Whether that means becoming a Nightmare that is only monstrous in appearance but is otherwise able to live a semi-normal existence, to transforming into a twisted, unrecognizable creature that terrorizes the citizens of Newham, no one is safe. Ness will do anything to avoid becoming another victim, even if that means lying low among the Friends of the Restful Soul, a seedy organization that may or may not be a cult.
But being a member of the Friends of the Restful Soul has a price. In order to prove herself, Ness cons her way into what’s supposed to be a simple job for the organization—only for it to blow up in her face. Literally. Tangled up in the aftermath of an explosive assassination, Ness and the only other survivor—a Nightmare boy who Ness suspects is planning to eat her—must find their way back to Newham and uncover the sinister truth behind the attack.
2023 is off with a bang! Rebecca Schaeffer is a new to me author and I’m just going to say I am beyond impressed and could not put City of Nightmares the first book in the City Of Nightmares Duology down. Not only was it completely different and surprising, I loved the main broken character and her journey to put herself back together as she learns the world around her is not what she thought it was.
Ness lives in a corrupt and crazy city where literal nightmares roam the streets. In Ness’s world if you go to sleep and have a nightmare, you become that nightmare in life when you wake up. Some of them look mostly like regular people, just with red skin and horns, others, well let’s just say others don’t look human at all. Ness knows this well since her sister, the one protector she has ever really had succumbed to that fate.
My sister’s worst nightmare was a giant, man-eating spider. I know because that’s what she turned into when she went to sleep for the last time.
Ness’s new home is with a group called Friends of the Restful Soul, everyone else in the city thinks it is a cult but to Ness it is the place where she is laying low with all of her fears and hiding in a room most of the time curled up on a bed just wishing the world outside away. When Ness’s place at the could be cult’s sanctuary is threatened, she is willing to go outside the current jobs she has been doing there in hopes of making herself useful so she doesn’t get sent away. That is when everything goes wrong and Ness learns that the life she held onto for safety was probably just a big lie, as she tries to find out why now someone is trying to kill her.
The world here is creepy, strange, brutal at times and just so weird. This is one of the few books where I didn’t see many of the twists coming and was surprised every time. It is a dark tale and the city has horrors people have just learned to live with are mind boggling but humans can get used to anything we are just resilient that way.
Of course the Mayor has a pet pterodactyl that randomly eats citizens. At this point, I don’t even consider this an odd thing to happen in Newham.
Ness is afraid of so many things, but it is satisfying to see her work through her fear of all Nightmares as she works with Cy, a vampire boy, to find out why there was an explosion meant to kill everyone on the boat they were on. Cy seems like a good enough guy but he is a vampire, and everything Ness knows about vampires make her not trust him. But being short on friends, he is her best bet to stay alive, that is, if Cy doesn’t decide she is snackable.
Honestly I enjoyed the world, the plot, the sub-plot, the twists and turns and the reason everyone in the world could turn into a nightmare when they dream. It was all unique and interesting and I am so excited to see what happens in the wrap up to this duology. Rebecca Schaefer has won me over with this book and I’m excited to check out her other series that looks just a dark and twisted.
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