Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome to the Night Shift...

Night Shift
Jill Kismet Novels
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Available at Indie Bound, Powell's Books, Barnes & Noble
& Amazon

Summary: Not everyone can take on the things that go bump in the night. Not everyone tries. But Jill Kismet is not just anyone. She’s a Hunter, trained by the best–and in over her head. Welcome to the night shift…

I picked up Night Shift because I'd been following Lilith Saintcrow on Twitter and reading her posts on Deadline Dames. I love her sense of humor and knew I would love her writing too. Boy, was I right on target. I loved Night Shift. It's a gritty, dark urban fantasy with demons, weres, and things that go crash in the night. The humor in the book alternates between black humor and dry wit, at least that is how I read it. It reminds me of the humor nurses and doctors that work in an emergency room develop. They do it because if they don't, the things they see overwhelm them, and they burn out. My husband has this sense of humor, so I know it well. The dry wit comes mostly from Saul, the were that sort of "attaches" himself to Jill Kismet, the main character. He seems like a polar opposite of her. She's this vessel of supernatural energy, pain and anger. He's calm, soothing, nurturing, strong and most of the time his anger is a silent simmer. Wow, the scenes between the two of them are my favorite. There are, if I remember correctly, 3 kisses between them in the entire book, but I found myself practically holding my breath during every one of them. Seriously, the emotion Ms. Saintcrow put into those scenes just floored me.

The characters in Night Shift are very in depth, but not necessarily with wordy descriptions. The author has this way of nailing the characters motives and their personality in one scene, no matter how small it is. I know many reader's will find Jill to be bitchy and stubborn. In some ways, this is true, but in her world it's the only way to survive. If the reader pays attention, and looks at her as a whole, after learning her background and what she does for a living, it makes sense. I cannot imagine her personality being any different than the author has made it. This is one of my favorite lines when Jill answers Saul after he questions her use of a very large sword:

"That's the advantage of having a hellbreed scar on my wrist, furboy. I get to play with all sorts of toys that are too big for me."

Night Shift is a fast paced, action filled read, but it also tackles many issues that are thought provoking and faced by many of us. Is the world black and white? Is there only good and evil, with nothing in between? Are we damned by our actions, or is there forgiveness? Another issue, at least that I saw in the book, is the one of putting someone on a pedestal. Do we hold a teacher, a parent, a lover, in such high esteem that they can do no wrong? Do we base our worth or self esteem on what they think of us? Then lastly, is the struggle to trust again, to realize we need another person, no matter how strong we think we are alone. Granted, other readers may see different issues in Night Shift, but these are the ones I came away with.

If you enjoy Lori Handeland, Vicki Petterssen and Marjorie M. Liu you will love Night Shift. It's part of a series:

Jill Kismet
1. Night Shift (2008)
2. Hunter's Prayer (2008)
3. Redemption Alley (2009)
4. Flesh Circus (2009)

You can learn more about the author at the links below:
Deadline Dames