What I listened to: City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer

City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer

Image from Goodreads

About this book:

(blurb from NetGalley)

In a Gotham-inspired city where people go to sleep and wake up as their own nightmares, perfectly normal, perfectly terrified Ness must face her biggest fears, before she ends up a casualty in some else’s villainous war.

Face your fear . . . or become your 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, or transforming into a twisted, unrecognizable creature that terrorizes 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 organization that may or may not be a cult.

But being a member of this 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 organization – 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.

Hodder & Stoughton Audio 

City of Nightmares - Rebecca Schaeffer

Image from Goodreads

My thoughts:

“City of Nightmares” offers a unique and “different” concept – can you imagine living in a dark and bleak city/world, and the very real possibility that you can turn into your own worst nightmare?

The worldbuilding is brilliant, and although most of the book blurbs does note it to be as “Gotham-inspired”, I would have surmised that from the writing as well.  Thinking back, while listening to this audio book, I never visualised it it to occur somewhere where it’s sunny and bright, with green pastures that stretches on for days. It is dark, quirky and atmospheric, very much like the plot.

Ness, the protagonist is by her own admission is a bit of a coward and is riddled with fear and anxiety.   She’s not strong, brave or fierce, she simply wants to survive and make it to the next day.  So not what we’re used to seeing as the central character in fantasy YA books – and I like it! She is haunted by trauma and nightmares, an orphan with nowhere to go.  The only people she can rely on is her best friend, and the Friends of the Restful Soul, an organisation she found a home at after the death of her family.  Or can she?

She’s got an interesting “support cast” and we also get introduced to an impressive range of monsters, ghouls, and nightmare creatures.

“City of Nightmares” is face-paced, showcasing a fantasy world that is corrupt, and filled with conspiracies and vivid nightmares.  There are morally grey characters (including our cowardly protagonist), sinister villains and dark motives.  And you ask the question:  “Who are the real monsters?”

What I enjoyed most:

  • Vampire alert!
  • Unlikely allies
  • Unique concept
  • Face-paced
  • Dark wit

There is some repetitiveness in the writing and maybe it could do with more editing, but in general this was a great start to the duology!   I definitely now want to read more from the author, so I started the WEBTOON series “Not Even Bones”.

I had to opportunity to listen to the audiobook ARC, courtesy of NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton.  It was narrated by Saskia Maarleveld.  She did a brilliant job, keeping up with the pace of the story, getting into the various characters and making this an entertaining and effortless listening experience.

“City of Nightmares” releases on 10 January 2023.  I hope we get it here in South Africa as well, I’d love to get my hands on the hard copy to add to my bookshelf whilst waiting for the second book!

#CityofNightmares #NetGalley

The Details:

Genre:  Fantasy, Young Adult (YA), Horror

EDITION              Audiobook, Unabridged

ISBN                     9781399712125

PRICE                   £21.99 (GBP)

DURATION          8 Hours, 27 Minutes


About the author:


@roelia_reads #CurrentlyListening to #RebeccaShaeffer‘s #CityOfNightmares Expected to hit the shelves next week! #ARC #NetGalley #RoeliaReads #AudioBook #Booktok @Hodder & Stoughton ♬ original sound – Roelia Reads