My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Having already read and loved Lilith Saintcrow’s “Dante Valentine” stories, I was super eager to tackle her next urban fantasy series. And “Night Shift,” the first book in the Jill Kismet series, did not disappoint.
Jill is a Hunter, one of an elite group that works closely with law enforcement to keep the creatures of the ‘Nightside’ under control. Still adrift over the recent loss of her mentor, she ends up working with a mixture of old friends and new faces when a series of brutal murders rock her city.
Saintcrow builds damaged, ass-kicking female characters and realistic but off-color worlds like few urban fantasy authors I’ve read. Some of the most interesting parts of the story for me involved the small glimpses of Jill’s past that are revealed during her more vulnerable moments. Her relationship with her former mentor and her conflicted feelings about his death given the massive role he played in her personal history have shaped her so much that I hope those arcs are explored further in later books.
Generic UF similarities aside, Jill’s world is a vastly different place from Dante’s, and I have a ton of respect for the author and her ability to carry that off. I got the impression that the version of America that Jill lives in isn’t so different from ours except for the existence of nightside beings, and I’m eager to see if it stays that way.
I loved the taste of romance that “Night Shift” contained, while also appreciating how little Jill’s growing feelings for the LI compromised her murder investigation. That said, I think these two characters made a fantastic and fascinating team, and I’m eager to see where their relationship grows in later books.
That said, the story remains very dark, although the devil’s mostly in the details. Saintcrow managed to make me shudder without having to specify too much or delve too deep. The killers that Jill and her team are hunting are horribly brutal, but by the end of the story I pitied them more than I hated them. It’s rare that the first book in a series can make me ache for characters I didn’t feel I was supposed to like.
The rest of the series is in my possession, so I’ll be getting to it in stages. Being hooked this early on feels like a pretty good sign though.