Please note: This review of Emergency Shift goes deeper into the plot of the book than most Hessan’s County Reviews.
The first of the Full Moon Medic Series, Emergency Shift is written by Daniel Potter. It takes place in a alternate modern-day Portland where the barriers between us and the supernatural are fraying. Abby Night’s life has already been effected, but things are about to become even stranger. As the paramedic and her partner respond to a call and make an unwitting promise to a dying fey knight, Abby will find herself bound to a Secret. A Secret that will endanger her friends and bring up her dark past. A Secret that will bring new purpose to her life if she can survive a mad hunter and a journey beyond the fairy circle into the Dream.
CWs: graphic violence; on-screen murder and torture; zombies; fantasy horror; body horror; physical transformation; kidnapping; hospitals and medical situations; magical bonds & oaths; Depression; a Closeted Transgender person; unintentional dead-naming; conspiracy theories; aftermath of an abusive relationships; references to past white supremacy, terrorist activities, cutting, suicidal thoughts
Emergency Shift is is modern fantasy with elements of action and horror. The journey and promises Abby and her pooka charge Secret have to make to survive leave several hooks for a sequel. The cast is racially diverse and there are several examples of LGBTQ+ representation in the book with major characters who are transgender, bisexual, and lesbian.
Building the “Full Moon Medic” World
The world-building pulls strongly from European and Asian folklore, with the strongest influences being Celtic mythology and English literature. Fairies, spirits, and ancient gods exist in the Dream, the fae Otherworld. In recent times the barriers have been weakening between the realms and the Crossroads, allowing fae, zombies, vampires, werewolves, and more to encounter mortals again. Many of the fae encountered have connections to familiar characters: the Queens Titania of the Summer Court, Queen Mab of the Winter Court, Puss in Boots of the Court of Cats. Still others and the fae culture will be very familiar to players of Changeling: The Dreaming.
Many of the fae have adapted to modern culture because they survive on worship or memories of mortals. This leads to a number of interesting fae characters. For example, Abby and Secret encounter a troll that has been surviving on mortal memories and adoration for the Beast character from Beauty and the Beast. This steady diet has modified his appearance and base nature so much that the basic mythological rules of trolls don’t apply to him anymore.
Emergency Shift – The Text
An unfortunate element of this book is that it contains a significant amount of exposition in the first third of the text. While this might be expected for the first novel of a series, here it goes beyond that because of outside connections that need to be explained. This book references events that occurred in a short story prequel named Twilight Run. Many of the relevant plot points from that story is explained here, so this short story should not be seen as required reading. The author has a link where you can access it for free available on their social media pages.
The characters’ relationships between one another is a major driver of the plot of this story. While Abby unknowing becomes bonded to Secret at the beginning of the story, their relationship transforms from a sense of protection and obligation to that of found family. Found family also highlights other relationships as many characters becoming closer to one another over the course of the plot.
Extra Emphasis on Content Warnings – A Painful Past
The second one in an evolution in Abby’s character, but first I need to explain a couple of the content warnings I mentioned at the beginning of this review. Some of them may be major turn-offs for readers. Abby previously had a boyfriend while in high school named Jeremy. He became heavily involved in Neo-Nazi rhetoric and pulled Abby into it despite her mother’s Chinese heritage. Jeremy’s beliefs led to him instigating a mass shooting that Abby had unknowingly supplied the gun for. Among the dead were Abby’s parents.
While Abby has since “deprogramed” herself, she still bears a lot of anger and self-loathing about Jeremy. There are no major flashbacks in the story. However Jeremy, his beliefs, and actions is referenced multiple times in the story by Abby’s internal dialogue. Antagonists in the story also use it when trying to manipulate her. Much of Abby’s growth comes from healing some of these mental scars and coming to accept the roll the supernatural has in her life now.
Extra Emphasis on Content Warnings – A Partial Public Transition
I feel the need to discuss the Content Warning about a closeted trans person and unintentional dead-naming. Abby’s paramedic partner Cindy is a trans woman. While Abby knows that Cindy is transgender, no one else at work is aware. This means she has to use her dead-name at work until events result in her coming out as transgender to her manager. The man is accepting after some initial shock. I am not transgender, so I can not speak to the authenticity of Cindy’s experiences. However, the author mentions in his notes that he consulted with at least several sensitivity reader. At least one of these is transgender.
Rating Emergency Shift
Despite the exposition-heavy start, I would say the book is a strong beginning for this series. I will give it an 8/10 though my opinion may increase or decrease depending on a future reading of Twilight Run and the upcoming sequel. The author’s website can be found here.