25 November 2019

{Review} Nightmare City by P.S. Newman


Kindle Edition359 pages
Published: November 26th 2019 Self-published
In post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, dreams come true. So do nightmares.

Ever since a shift in reality twenty years ago, peoples' dreams and nightmares come alive, spreading chaos and destruction. Monsters ravage cities, bottomless chasms split roads, and gold rains from the sky - the possibilities are limitless, unpredictable and often deadly.

Eden Maybrey is a hunter of these "shades". When a friend tasks her with tracking down and eliminating an evil shade, the hunt threatens to expose Eden's deepest, darkest secret. To find her prey, she is forced to team up with Vaughn Taylor, a hunter who hates shades with a passion - and who won't hesitate to put a bullet in Eden's head should he figure out the truth.


Book 1 in a new urban fantasy series with a twist: no vamps or weres - instead, dreams and nightmares coming alive.


Would you really want your dreams to come true?

It's rare to have urban fantasy with any original ideas. After all, the genre has been around for decades now. Vampires, shifters, fae...they've all taken their stroll through the pages of many an urban fantasy. Nightmares may be a more unique take. I can only think of one other, Night Terrors by Tim Waggoner. In Night Terrors, the nightmares are allowed to exist as long as they behave, though they are enforced by a paranormal agency made up of dream creatures and their dreamer creators. Nightmare City, however,  has a very different take. 

After an event called The Surge, suddenly dreamers were finding that their dreams and nightmares manifested in the real world. Chaos and destruction reigned until civilization learned to deal with the shades they created. They founded the Somni Order, an organization established to find ways to police and cope with the constant threat of their nightmares made real. The Somni Order works separately from the police to capture and exterminate these beings. There is no tolerance and those that create often are watched closely. Enter Bella. She's 17 and traumatized after the death of her mother at the hands of a monster shade. Bella is a prime, manifesting shades at least four nights a week. It turns out Bella also a huge fan of the graphic novel, Dreamscapes, so much so that two years ago, she dreamed Elysia and her sentient sword, Violet aka Vy, into being. Created to hunt shades and hiding under a secret identity,  Elysia — now Eden  hides in plain sight from those who would exterminate her if they were to find out her secret. Eden is then called into action after a friend imagines a doppelganger of himself with an evil agenda. To add to the turmoil, Eden herself dreams of her days as Elysia, dreaming into existence a pack of hellhounds with fiery tricks along with the only man she ever loved. 

I struggled a bit getting into this new world. You really just get thrown in the deep end and things are explained to you in bits and pieces along the way. I don't know that a direct introduction to Eden/Elysia would have really made the difference, but I just didn't feel like a had a good grasp on the things until about the 25-30% mark. The world created here is very interesting in a dystopian way. There are electrified fences around houses to keep the shades out, a 911 like system to report possible impending shades, and of course, the Somni Order. It's been long enough adjusting to this new world that SHAID (the Society for a Higher Acceptance and Integration of Dreams) has been established to promote awareness and acceptance of shades. 

I liked the characters a lot. None of them are perfect. As with most of urban fantasy's MCs Eden is inherently flawed. She struggles with who she is as well as where she came from. She wants to do the right thing but isn't against bending the rules to get there. Bella is kind of a brat. I know she has trauma from her past, but I would put her age a lot younger with some of the things she does. Hopefully, book 2 will see her growing up under the careful watch of her sister, Eden and Aunt Vy. I actually liked Taylor a lot. He's gruff and obviously very bigoted, but I want to know more about his back story and why he hates shades with such a passion. There were some cracks in his facade this time around and I think we'll see a lot more of this. As for Elysia's dream man, he seems like Mr. Perfect. I'm not thrilled so far with their interaction, but I'm not sure I'm shipping a Taylor/Eden connection even though it is the not-so-obvious choice that usually ends up happening in UF. One thing that is spoken by Vy frequently is that humans "grow and evolve" and I think in the next book, we'll see a lot more of that with these characters.  

Once I got into Nightmare City, I really enjoyed it and the last half of the book flew by! The action and fight scenes are plentiful and once the book started rolling, it didn't stop. The ending leaves us with a lot more questions and nowhere to go but up. I'm definitely looking forward to book 2 to see where it takes us.