DFZ book 3 released a while ago and I finished the audio book. I have to say, hands down this was one of my favorite series. I liked it more than The Heartstrikers books, if I’m being completely honest. This is going to be one of my shorter reviews, because I really don’t have anything bad to say about it. Loved it from start to finish. But as I am prone to do, let’s get into some gushing about the book!
Night Shift Dragons takes place 2 months after Part-Time Gods. Opal and her Father are dealing with a lot of their issues, and Opal is also dealing with being a Priestess to the DFZ. I thought it was really interesting seeing the DFZ and how her personality has developed over the 25 year span since the Heartstriker series. It isn’t something you need to have read the first series to get, but if you have it’s just a nice touch seeing her develop into who she is in the story. There were some really entertaining cameos in this book as well, which once again you don’t have to have read the first series to get, but it makes them all the better if you have and if you plan to read the Heartstrikers series, major spoilers from things in that series by these cameos.
But what I love about this series, is how grounded it is. Sure, we’re dealing with demi-gods and magic, and dragons. But at its core, it’s the story of Opal and Yong trying to figure out how to have a relationship with one another where they aren’t just shouting at each other all the time, and Opal realizing that her actions have major consequences, and she’s just as much at fault for the bad things going on in her life as dealing with her Dad is. It was really refreshing seeing Opal own up to her mistakes, while at the same time acknowledging that Yong was also in the wrong. Yong also has to realize Opal isn’t a kid anymore, and what he’s been trying to do to keep her close has only driven her away was huge character growth for him as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the first few chapters, where they just talked things out and figured out how to be a Father and daughter again. After that, the scenes with them having more tender moments, and their action scenes together, were just so amazing and I loved seeing them lean on each other for strength, and support. Of course their mannerisms don’t entirely go away, but they’re both working on building this relationship, and it’s beautiful start to finish.
I was a bit worried after reading the blurb for the book that Opal and Nick’s relationship would suffer. Especially after what happened at the end of book 2, I was seriously stressing that there would be an obnoxious will they, won’t they lovers on opposite sides of a battle thing going on. Lucky for me, that didn’t happen at all. Once again, Rachel Aaron demonstrates her depth in understanding of how her characters work, and uses a realistic dialogue between the characters to set up plot points for the book. Never did I feel like either side didn’t trust each other, never did I feel that their relationship wasn’t strong enough to weather any storm. It was just really well done, seeing the depth of care they had for each other, and super refreshing for a genre plagued with irritating romance tropes.
The overarching plot of the story was interesting enough, but honestly it was mainly the backdrop for the characters growth and development. I pretty easily predicted what was going to happen, though there were certain curveballs In the last few chapters that genuinely had me surprised. The final battle was epic, and the true culmination of Opal and Yong’s relationship. And the ending after that was super satisfying, and open-ended enough to have some novellas featuring Opal and Nick. Which, I hope is what happens, because if I’m being honest, I like them waaaay more than Marcy and Julius. There’s just something about Opal that’s so much more engaging, and makes me like her far more as a character.
I read this in audio book format, because that’s how I started the book, and I tend to stick with how I started reading a book. Emily Woo Zeller is fantastic, her voice for Opal especially is super well done. Opal, Yong, and Nick were very well defined as characters in her narration. There is a certain point, where the voices don’t get super distinguished, but the characters personalities still shine through so well that it doesn’t bother me so much. My main gripe is with the characters from Heartstrikers, but that’s mainly because I’m so used to the voices from the Heartstrikers books that the ones in this book throw me off a bit. I just put those voices in my head and imagine the other narrators deliveries with them, and it doesn’t bother me too much.
But yeah, this was a fantastic finale to the series. Like I said, this story has always been grounded in the simple struggle of a young woman wanting to live her life, but not wanting to strain her familial relationships to do so. Both sides having to adapt to one another’s wishes, while still loving and respecting each other was perfectly portrayed in this 3rd book. I always thought Yong was a great character, but seeing him fleshed out in this book was great, and his character arc along with Opal’s was fantastic. Like I said, I really hope to see more of all of these characters, because I prefer them to the cast of the Heartstrikers series.
I recommend this story to anyone who’s an urban fantasy fan that has a strong like of character based stories, and quirky humor. These books are well rounded with drama, action, character and plot, and I thoroughly enjoyed this being a one on one character story, instead of evolving into the end of the world scenario Heartstrikers did. Both are great series’ but I prefer this one to that one, no contest.
Have you read Night Shift Dragons? Let me know what you thought in the comments!