Edie Spence, Book #1
By Cassie Alexander
ISBN # 9780312553395
Author’s website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Verushka

I think I hit my limit of medical inspired-anything thanks to the popularity of them on television over the years, but the sight of Edie Spence on the cover of this book, with her Ellen-Page-resemblance and the shadow of a dragon behind her was too good to resist.

The book does not disappoint at all – I only wish those medical shows on TV were even half as interesting. Edie Spence is a nurse on Ward Y4 of County, the ward where all manner of supernatural creatures go when they are injured, need a safe place to recuperate or to shift into their supernatural forms. It’s run by the Shadows, and while there is some explanation to their presence in the book, they do not over-power the book.

Cassie Alexander is a nurse herself, so everything in the book to do with the hospital as you can imagine, rings true. What thrilled me was the utter simplicity of her idea – a ward, a hospital for ALL sorts of supernatural creatures! It’s a fabulous way to explore different creatures in an urban fantasy setting because no matter what, at some point, they’re all going to need medical help.

I mean that dragon on the cover? Not there just for show!

Edie is a normal woman, who works at the ward to ensure her brother Jake’s continued safety. Jake is a junkie and Edie cannot help him get clean as he does not want to – that situation, I thought, was extremely real and well-written. Edie’s helplessness is palpable, as is her frustration, anger and love for Jake. There is more to Jake and his story, but this is not the book for it.

This book is about Edie. Like I mentioned above, she’s a normal woman, a nurse and working in Y4 does come with training in how to handle creatures, but a normal woman, faced with supernatural foes keeps me hyper-aware of how realistic the characters act when facing them. The author, I am happy to report, handles that superbly – I could see Edie doing everything she does physically, including killing a vampire which in this book sets her on a path towards a trial for her life. I mean, a trial before a vampire court, with vampire lawyers and everything – the world-building in this novel? In a word, superb.

The book also highlights that Edie’s compassion, even to killer-vampire children, in particular, Anna who she tries to save and needs to testify on her behalf at her trial. Edie begins the book trying to find Anna – a dying patient, one she killed (a vampire servant, in essence) whispers Anna’s name to Edie, and she becomes determined to find her to save her like her patient wanted. In an attempt to save Anna, she finds herself on trial and embroiled in vampire politics of a sort.

Along the way, she meets Asher, a shapeshifter, who begins as a romantic interest, but becomes something else towards the end – enough to make me curious as to how his relationship with Edie is going to evolve. Ti is a patient and a zombie who is as kind-hearted as Edie is and who ends up helping her in her quest to find Anna to testify on her behalf at her vampire-trial.

I have to confess, I have only read zombie stories of the evil, undead killer variety until now, so Ti is a welcome change. He comes with his own baggage, he is tender and funny and heart-breaking all at once, but he is not without those killer zombie-instincts mentioned above. He is the most interesting part of the secondary set of characters.

The secondary characters from Jake, her brother to Meaty and Gina and the rest of the nurses of Ward Y4 are all drawn in quick sure strokes by Alexander. They have enough to be characters on their own, but never intrude on Edie’s story in this.

But back to Edie – her normal nature is this book greatest asset because along with her non-supernatural nature, she makes mistakes anyone can relate to, but she admits to them, which makes her a stronger character for me. She has financial difficulties in between trying to find Anna, and struggling with dealing with Jake and work at Y4.

In short, go pick this up and read. Edie is an utterly engaging character, and Cassie Alexander has weaved a brilliant tale in this debut novel.

OBS staffer Veruskha had a chance to talk with author, Cassie Alexander…check out her interview here!