". . . they were faces of everyone he'd ever been . . . and all of them were screaming.",
This review is from: Shapeshifted (Edie Spence) (Mass Market Paperback)
As "Shapeshifted", the third novel in the Edie Spence series, opens, Edie is in sad shape. She's been fired from her old job and is now watching sleepers sleep in a sleep clinic, she's bored, she's depressed, her brother's back on the junk, she's lonely, and she's being shunned by the paranormal world. Really, what else could go wrong? Never ask, because . . .
Her mother gets her on the phone, and lays on Edie that she's got cancer. Woo, now things really can't get much worse. Well, this is where the novel starts taking off. Heartbroken, Edie feels that there is only one thing she can do to help her mom, and that is to go to the Shadows. The Shadows are a bunch of amorphous and mysterious beings that feed on misery, and who are used to guard County Hospital, a hospital where the paranormal go when they need medical treatment. Well, Edie has another plan, but you'll have to read the novel to find out what that plan is, and even Edie thinks THAT plan is not only pretty desperate, but pretty ill-advised.
However, when Edie does go to the Shadows, they strike a "deal". Edie finds the death goddess Santa Muerte and they'll help her mom.
Adding to all of this, the mundane world intrudes into her life as having quit her job, Edie has to find another. With a little "luck" she scores an interview with the Divisadero clinic in one of the poor, and exclusively Spanish, parts of town. Here she meets Hector, who runs the clinic, and with whom Edie will have a rocky, but useful, relationship with in "Shapeshifted". Also added to the cast is Olympio, a young bruja in training, whose help Edie will also rely on during this novel.
To complicate things, her ex-zombie lover Ti is back in town, there is a gang turf war heating up in the Divisadero area, a vampire from Edie's past shows up, Jorgens, the werewolf turned Hound shows up because his master Dren has disappeared, and Hector is being mysteriously threatened. Oh yes, and the future of the world is at stake. Again.
If all, or any of this, sounds interesting, then I should immediately state that this is a novel that should not be read independently. While this is perhaps the best novel in the Edie Spence series, Alexander does little to fill in new readers as to what is going on, or what is what, in the Edieverse. "Shapeshifted" is not a stand alone novel, and it is definitely a novel in a series that should only be read from the first novel onwards.
This is, for the rest of us who have read these novels from the beginning, and who have been wishing that there were more character development on Edie's part, the novel that we've been waiting for. The first half of the novel is slow by action standards, but Cassie Alexander uses this space to develop Edie more, and to show us more of the medical side of Edie's life. The type of stuff that I, personally, find interesting. Having several professional nurses in my family, Edie's yearning to get back into nursing after being sidelined from her calling in the previous novel rings true to me. Alexander is a professional burn clinic nurse, and several times she gives some cynical observations on the life of being a nurse, such as this bon mot: "Nurses were on the front lines, and doctors were like distant generals who never believed you when you said you were running out of ammunition while they were yelling at you to march."
Anyway, the character development and medical background is the type of material that this story needs for the second half of this novel to take off as it does. And it was this second half that caused me to stay up late at night several times to keep reading. That and Alexander's tendency to use extremely short chapters, so that I always felt that I could read just one more, and usually ended up a lot more than just one more. While many will probably find the first half somewhat slow and talky, Alexander also uses this space to start reimagining and redeveloping the Edie mythos, as by the novel's end there will be some real developments in Alexander's Edieverse.
I can't give out specifics, but get some hankies ready.
Quite frankly, I think that this is probably Alexander's best novel so far, at least under the Cassie Alexander name, and I was constantly entertained.
I look forward to reading the next Edie Spence novel, which we are informed at the end of this book as coming real soon now.