City of Nightmares – Rebecca Schaeffer

Welcome to Gotham Newham, a city that can literally crawl with villains, where the authorities are more likely to bribe you than help you. It’s mouldy, it’s smoggy, it smells like “urine and dust, barbecue and burnt coal.” It’s also where you’ll find the the cult that Nessa joined three years ago.

“It’s not a cult.”

Uh huh… It’s called Friends of the Restful Soul. Tell me that’s not a cult!

Ness has been a coward (her words, not mine, but she’s not wrong…) for eight years, ever since her sister turned into a giant spider and started eating people.

See, this is a world where your nightmares become Nightmares. Don’t understand the difference? Well, a Nightmare is what happens when you don’t drink the tap water laced with Helomine or remember to down some Nightmare-prevention drugs and allow yourself to dream. Dreaming results in you waking up as your worst fear.

I had such high expectations for this book that I didn’t think it was possible for it to meet them. I wanted to hold onto my hope so much that I put off reading it for weeks. I needn’t have worried. I was hooked by the second page and I read nonstop until I finished.

Ness is living her best scared life. She runs away from any person, location or situation that could maybe, possibly be dangerous. It’s a good thing she has her badass best friend, Priya, to protect her and the brick box that she calls home (previously the janitor’s closet), the only place she feels safe. Our Ness has trust issues.

I can’t get too close to anyone, you never know who’s already a Nightmare – or who will turn into one.

Badass Priya runs towards danger and is looking forward to the day when she gets paid to kill sea monsters and sky monsters. Basically, any monster will do. Just let Priya at ‘em!

“If it’s attacking me, I kill it. If it’s attacking other people, I kill it. If it’s not attacking anyone, I don’t kill it. I feel like it’s a really simple distinction.”

Then there’s Cy the sigher. He’s probably my favourite character. When you get to know him, you’ll want to be his friend too.

The Nightmares are brilliant, the mayor has an attack pterodactyl and Ness is definitely a cult member.

“Still not a cult.”

I urgently need the sequel!

Favourite no context quote:

“He was still my husband. We just couldn’t communicate anymore because I don’t speak giant cockroach!”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Gotham meets Strange the Dreamer in this thrilling young adult fantasy about a cowardly girl who finds herself at the centre of a criminal syndicate conspiracy, in a city where crooked politicians and sinister cults reign and dreaming means waking up as your worst nightmare.

Ever since her sister became a man-eating spider and slaughtered her way through town, nineteen-year-old Ness has been terrified – terrified of some other Nightmare murdering her, and terrified of ending up like her sister. Because in Newham, the city that never sleeps, dreaming means waking up as your worst fear.

Whether that means becoming a Nightmare that’s monstrous only in appearance, to transforming into a twisted, unrecognisable creature that terrorises the city, no one is safe. Ness will do anything to avoid becoming another victim, even if that means lying low among the Friends of the Restful Soul, a questionable organisation that may or may not be a cult.

But being a member of maybe-cult has a price. In order to prove herself, Ness cons her way into what’s supposed to be a simple job for the organisation – only for it to blow up in her face. Literally. Tangled up in the aftermath of an explosive assassination, now Ness and the only other survivor – a Nightmare boy who Ness suspects is planning to eat her – must find their way back to Newham and uncover the sinister truth behind the attack, even as the horrors of her past loom ominously near.

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