“Hazel — Promise me you won’t give up on your dreams.”
“I won’t, Mom!” Hazel swears, assuming Mom means that she should try to be whatever she wants to be, a doctor, or lawyer, or even a mermaid. Hazel is just nine, but she really means to keep that promise.
Seventeen years later, she wonders if she’s broken it – or maybe just failed to fully realize it, because she hasn’t become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a mermaid. Or anything much, really. Yet, in one way, she has kept her promise — because Hazel is a Grand Champion Dreamer. When she’s asleep, she dreams a dazzling universe full of heroes and monsters, princesses and goddesses, cities and temples and gardens that make the most wonderful places on Earth seem dull in comparison.
During the day, she does what she has to do to pay the bills. At bedtime, she turns in, confident that she will dream, and that the sun will come up in the morning. So on the evening of her last day, she embraces the night wholeheartedly and drifts into the universe of her imagination.
But when the alarm goes off, she opens her eyes to darkness. The sun hasn’t come up, the world outside has become a City of Night, and the dwellers there are Night Shifters — gods and elves, daemons and djinns, dreamers and wizards. All of them have their own agendas, all of them are chasing Hazel, and as she fights to understand this world of dreams and her place in it, she can’t help remembering what her mother said.
And she wonders. All those years ago, when she swore to never give up on her dreams, did she really understand what she was promising?
This blurb came from Goodreads.
Back when I was on an extremely limited budget – allowance from chores—and I had exceeded my parents’ pockets on books from the bookstore, exceeded the library’s weekly checkout limit I lived for the Friends of the Library semi-annual book sales. We were members which meant we would show up early help organize them and get to shop a day before everyone else. Those sales provided my introduction to I don’t remember how many authors. One of the books I found was called Larissa and happened to be by Emily Devenport. I really enjoyed reading it and often wished I could find any other books by Ms Devenport, this was also during the heyday of Usenet and BBS (Bulletin Board System) so I didn’t have the capability of finding her website on the internet like we can today.
When we were contacted with a review request for The Night Shifters I liked the premise of the book and thought the author’s name sounded familiar, so I did a little research, found out it was the same author and leaped on the chance. Ms Devenport created an extremely vivid sort of world that reminded me of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Neil Gaimen’s Neverwhere while containing some unique twists. As Hazel explores the City of Night she is faced with some interesting characters, choices and things that aren’t quite right. In the process she learned a lot about herself, her values and who she really was. I enjoyed watching Hazel triumph over some of her old fears and start paying attention to her instincts instead of what other people told her.
While the story as a whole flowed some of the scenes didn’t quite match up. I admire Ms Devenport’s use of that technique because it was very similar to how different scenes in a dream don’t necessarily appear to go together while you are experiencing it. I felt that added to the overall atmosphere in the City of Night. It was also interesting to see how characters continue to show up and morph according to the scene again making it more dreamlike. Unfortunately, while well written, I really struggled finishing The Night Shifters. Ms Devenport happened to hit a button I didn’t know I had which caused me to remember some of my neverending dreams that weren’t exactly nightmares but were not comfortable either. As a result I was never able to settle down and just enjoy. Just as a side note I wasn’t able to get into Alice in Wonderland or Neverwhere either.
I give The Night Shifters a C+