When twenty-three-year-old Meggie meets distant and enigmatic Sabine, she recognizes in her the person she would like to be. Giving up her daytime existence, her reliable boyfriend, and the trappings of a normal life in favour of working the same nightshifts as Sabine could be the perfect escape for Meggie. She finds a liberating sense of freedom in indulging her growing preoccupation with Sabine and plunges herself into another existence, gradually immersing herself in the transient and uncertain world of the nightshift worker.
Dark, sexy, frightening, Nighshift explores ambivalent female friendship, sexual attraction and lives that defy easy catergorization. London’s stark urban reality is rendered other-wordly and strange as Meggie’s sleep deprivation, drinking and fixation with Sabine gain a momentum all of their own. Can Meggie really lose herself in trying to become someone else?
Thank you to Emma at Bookbreak UK for the proof copy of the book.
An enticing story about youth, friendship and an underbelly of London life exclusive to the nightshift workers. This is Meggie’s story told 20 years later, always an aspiring writer, events detailed in this book take her off path although there was something satisfying in the way this story concluded that took things full circle, with her finally achieving her goal and writing this story.
Studying part time and in a steady relationship with Graham when she meets Sabine, Meggie is immediately captivated. Moving to align herself with Sabine she changes her work hours to the nightshift and becomes absorbed in a darker, smaller world. Brutally ending her relationship, her obsession with Sabine grows, although Sabine remains distant and private, available only when she chooses to be. The captivation fuelled by the absolute ‘light’ Meggie feels when her and Sabine are together, when she is the special one.
Much of this was about youth, living freely and irresponsibly, drink, drugs, debt, but there was something in the group of nightshifters that took them out of the realms of normality, seperated them from others and closed their group, making things more intense and all consuming, an extension of Meggie’s feelings within her relationship with Sabine.
This is a dark read and while enigmatic Sabine’s appeal is well written and obvious, the relationship between her and Meggie felt toxic and unbalanced. For Meggie it seemed that the cost of that relationship – which was somewhere between friendship, idolisation and sexual was life changing, taking her on a different path to the one she might have chosen. The costs were high, Meggie’s life seemed to continue untethered, until the book’s end. We never really learn Sabine’s story, but she remained a fascinating character, indicators of mental illness were alluded to, but this was based on what Meggie knew of her and little else.
The book was a fast read for me, told in the first person past tense. It felt dark whilst reading and was sad, leaving me with a sense of some of the characters being stuck in a somewhat lonely and transient world, althougth the group of nightshifters had drifted apart years previously. Publishing today this was a subtle take on an obsessive friendship, shady and seedy at times, especially in relation to excessive, recreational substance abuse which leaves Meggie vulnerable and alone.
About the Author
As a child, Kiare Ladner wanted to live on a farm, ran an orphanage and be on stage. As an adult, she found herself working for academics, with prisoners adn on nightshifts. her short stories have been published in South Aftrica, where she grew up, and the UK where she lives now.
Nightshift is her debut novel.