Book Review: City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer

I love good sci-fi and fantasy novels, especially those that blend those aspects into something new and exciting. And superhero stories can be a great example of that. But what if we have a superhero-like story and world without actual heroes? That’s what we’ve got here with City of Nightmares. I was lucky to be sent a proof copy of this book to review, thanks to Kate at Hodderscape. So thank you so much!

In City of Nightmares, we follow 19-year-old Ness, a young woman terrified of nightmares since her big sister transformed into a giant spider and ate their father. Now she lives in Newham with a charity or cult that helps protect people from those Nightmares. But Ness can’t do much to help, so when she takes on a new job hoping to find a reason that she should be able to stay, it blows up in her face? It’s a big problem. The only person around to help her is a nightmare boy she’s terrified of eating her. But as they find their way back to the city, Ness begins to learn that maybe not all Nightmares are what she thought they were.

I absolutely loved this book. It sounded like a lot of fun anyway, but from the moment I read the first sentence? I was already hooked. Ness is a character who is anxious and terrified of everything. Still, she lives in a city that is basically Gotham from DC comics. There are gangs and monsters in the street, but people are so used to it that they’re just getting on with things. Ness isn’t someone who belongs in a city so dangerous, but the only people she really cares about are there. It’s fascinating as you can’t help but wonder why she doesn’t want to leave, but she finds safety in what she can.

My favourite character was the nightmare guy, Cy. He was fascinating, as it’s sad when you discover his backstory and why he’s transformed into what he is. He’s terrified of becoming something truly monstrous. Still, he also appears more humane than many other nightmares out there. He was a really good guy, and I loved his sass. I also hope he and his former best friend can make up in the sequel, as their friendship breakup should be able to be fixed now, sob.

Knowing that we have a girl protagonist and a boy that comes along and changes how she views things, you’re likely assuming that this is a typical YA novel with a lot of romance. But it isn’t really. I recommend this book to people looking for YA without romance, as the main focus is definitely on friendships. I’m not going to pretend that there weren’t any hints that Ness and Cy could get together in the future, but as it is, they both see each other as friends, and it’s sweet to see. I would be happy if they got together, but I’d also be happy if they stayed friends. That’s a great balance.

This is basically a superhero novel without heroes, and that’s very true. The world feels like something you’d see in old comics, even the timing. The world feels like our world in the 1920s/1930s, but with these monsters that appear as people sleep. As well as less racism and homophobia. The book still reads very modern, so you won’t feel like you’re reading a book from that time, but it doesn’t feel unanachronistic either. I want to label this book a superhero story, but it doesn’t fit that. The villain at the end could definitely appear in a comic, though, and I’m excited to see where this Phantom takes the plot. Especially after the ending.

So far, this has been my favourite book of 2023, and I can’t wait to read more in this world. It’s definitely a book that a lot of people could love. So please pick it up when you can!

5/5 Stars

Title: City of Nightmares

Author: Rebecca Schaeffer

Genre: Sci-Fi

Age Range:  Young Adult

Publisher:  Hodderscape

Release Date: 23/2/23

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Bookshop Org

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