The City of Nightmares Readalong: Day 1!

Stunning photo by @lonely_reader!

Hello, hello!

Happy Monday and welcome to day 1 of our readalong of The City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer. I’m so excited to be reading this one with you, I hope you all love it!

Before we start, how are you all doing? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and got some reading and relaxing done.

Since today is day 1, we’ll be reading from the beginning to the end of Chapter 7. Get comfy and let’s get started!

When you’ve finished today’s section, catch up with me in the comments down below so we can discuss the beginning of the book. Happy reading!

Please be warned, the following section will include spoilers for The City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer from the beginning to Chapter 7. Please only read on if you have finished this section!


Well, if this opening line is anything to go by, this book will be very interesting and probably a little bit scary!

Our MC is part of a cult, it looks like her and her colleague Priya are in charge of comforting this woman after her husband turned into a Nightmare and died. The woman seems to be in denial about the fact her husband had to be killed, since he turned into a giant cockroach, even after he tried to eat her and bit off and ate her arm…

When the woman passes out, Ness, our MC, is overly cautious… and she’s right to be. The woman has been consuming alcohol, which nulls the preventative additives the tap water contains. Ideal.

As Mrs Sanderson turns into a Nightmare, Ness is petrified, Priya is ready. Which would you be? I’m leaning towards (like, heavily towards) being petrified.

Ness is in trouble with the Director of her not-a-cult, the Friends of the Restful Souls. He’s asking her to rethink her path, but Ness can’t leave. She has nowhere else to go.

She asks him to let her try mail duty, but Cindy is on mail… until Ness says she hurt her ankle. It’s a lie though, Cindy hasn’t hurt her ankle yet, but she will have once Ness finds her.

Ness is BRUTAL. She doesn’t actually hurt Cindy – well, not as badly as she planned – but she threatens to and leaves her with a mild sprain, that seems to do the job. Ness is on mail duty!

As Ness waits for the boat, we learn a little more about the world through the gossip Ness hears. The mayor apparently owns her own violent nightmare, a pterodactyl. Not scary at all.

Someone asks if she needs help with her suitcases. He seems nice! That is, until a bit later when Ness realises he’s afraid of silver… and then that she can’t see his reflection in any mirrors. He’s a vampire nightmare.

Ness has to work out whether she’s brave enough to confront him and save the girl, or let the vampire take the girl away, potentially harming her and then coming back for everyone else? What would you do?

Ness decides to confront them… but it kinda goes badly when all she can do is croak out the word Nightmare, the girl he’s with runs off, the door SHUTS behind her and now Ness is stuck, with the vampire. Ideal!

He tries to assure Ness he won’t hurt her, and he wasn’t planning on hurting the girl Ness scared off either. 

It turns out, this vampire was never the threat Ness needed to worry about… the boat has blown up, with them on it.

She’s launched into the water, and the vampire has saved her. Will this help Ness see that not all Nightmares are bad?

His name is Cy, I am absolutely cackling at Ness’s responses to his name. Sigh… Squirrel… Ness is chaos incarnate and I love it!

We part with Ness and Cy as Cy tows her to shore, and she tries to come up with a plan.

What a start! Ness is hilarious, Cy is potentially dangerous. I’m so interested to see how this will progress!

Do you think Ness’s fear is unreasonable?
Do you think the boat disaster was an accident like Ness thinks, or intentional like Cy seems to think?
What do you think Ness’s plan will be once they reach the shore?

I can’t wait to hear all of your thoughts!

I’ll catch up with you tomorrow for day 2.


32 thoughts on “The City of Nightmares Readalong: Day 1!

  1. I started this early because I usually fall behind in readalongs (and I wanted to be prepared) and then I ended up reading half in one or two sittings. Oops.

    Do I think Ness’s fear is unreasonable? No, it’s a trauma response. She knows logically that she’s having panic attacks, but anxiety doesn’t always listen to logic.

    The boat disaster is definitely suspicious. I have no idea what the motive behind it was though (even now, having read ahead, I’m still in the dark). This book’s world is so chaotic and corrupt it, there could be so many motives and culprits behind it.

    I won’t answer the Ness’s plans questions because I already know haha.

    1. I absolutely agree with you!

  2. The fact that Cy is so chill about the whole thig should tell her enough about who he is. I mean if he wanted to hurt her, he would’ve already!

    Blowing up the boat was definitely intentional, maybe a revenge plot or blowing up the boat postage service? The guy at the dock did say he didn’t know what they would do without it…

    Ness is most probably going to run away from Cy, or try to, at least…

    1. I also found the comments about the boat journey being so important (and all the talk linked to the mayor election) also very eyebrow raising so I’m with you on that!

  3. I think Ness being afraid of nightmares is very reasonable considering what she has been through.
    I think the boat exploding was intentional.
    I think she will try to get away from Cy as quickly as possible even though I think he is going to be good ☺️
    No strong feelings about this yet.

  4. I do think Ness‘ fear is extreme, but it’s not unreasonable. She went through a horribly traumatic experience. I do think she needs to do something about it though, for her sake as much as for others‘.

    Judging from the way Newham is described, I bet the explosion wasn’t an accident, especially since the boat is so important.

    I think Ness might just make a run for it as soon as they get to shore, but she‘ll be unsuccessful unless Cy lets her go, which is unlikely since they are the two main character and need to stick together for the story to progress.

    I’m intrigued and excited to continue! Maybe I’ll read a bit more tonight, we’ll see.

  5. Liking this one ok for now. The first couple chapters had me debating on if I’d like it, I’m not usually the biggest fan of urban fantasy type stories but it’s starting to get more intriguing. I’m interested in seeing how Ness and Cy’s interactions continue and the boat explosion seems a little sus. I’m still a little hesitant about this one but slightly more excited to read the next part

  6. So I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and I felt a little silly for joining this readalong because I’m currently reading 3 other books 😅 but I’m not really in the mood for any of them. So I decided to pick this up and I’m so glad I did! This is a ride!!

    I love that there is humor in this as well (that headline in the newspaper about the mayor cracked me up!).

    But anyway, I definitely don’t think the explosion was an accident! Maybe a bomb was stashed in with the packages that needed to be delivered, or maybe some politician knows more about it. Guess I’ll have to find out.

    I think Cy is okay. I think we can trust him. However, I don’t blame Ness for being cautious after what happened to her sister.

  7. Love it so far! it’s a really smooth read for me (French native speaker here!). I was a bit worried because I was not really exited about the “Gotham city vibes”… but it’s a very nice surprise.
    The boat explosion is definitely not an accident IMO, and I already like Cy. Ness is a bit of a mess with her emotions but no doubt she’ll overcome her fears… with Cy help maybe…
    As for the plan once on shore… no idea!

  8. I also read ahead as I usually fall behind with the readalongs.

    The opening was amazing. The book is very gritty. It makes me think of those noir stories and the corrupt dark city full of monsters made me think of Gotham city.

    I think it is reasonable that Nessa has such a strong fear given what she has gone through. She is suffering of PTDS and her anxiety is such that prevents her from having a relatively normal life. But she is an interesting character and relatable. Cy is intriguing, and I’m looking forward to getting to know more about him.

  9. I really did not expect to like the book based on the description but boy was I wrong!! I really enjoyed the first few chapters!

    I believe her fear is very reasonable considering her childhood trauma. She knows that she overreacts due to her having panick attacks with her thinking every possible bad outcome and that is not helpfull.

    I believe the explosion was intentional but for now i can say that i am not sure if there was a specific target or not.

    I think Ness will stay with Cy untill they reach a safe point and probably try to make it back home aby herself.

  10. So far: immediately obsessed with the book. I’m terrible at actually making myself stop during readalongs and this is no different 😅 I almost zoomed right on to Chapter 8.

    But anyway! Ness seems totally justified in her fears– her trauma response is obviously valid but also it seems like she’s been working really hard on developing healthier methods of coping with her terror. She continually calls herself a coward in the opening pages but I found her character more interesting and complex than that — like being willing to threaten breaking an ankle to get the mail job! It adds layers of ruthlessness I love to see.

    Cy is immediately an intriguing character and so far their interactions have been absolutely hilarious. This book is simultaneously really funny and very disturbing and I am super here for it so far!

    My guess is that the explosion was intentional (mentions of mayoral races right before getting on…foreshadowing?) and that Cy and Ness are gonna end up in an unlikely dream team duo situation. But we’ll see!

  11. I think Ness’s fear of nightmares is responsible. It doesn’t seem like her job is very understanding or helpful- when they preach about having counseling and stuff for survivors. I’m sure there’s more to this.

    Just like I think there’s more to the boat explosion.

    I was hesitant starting this book, but it’s moving along swiftly and keeping my attention.

  12. my thoughts while reading:
    – it’s wild how people are so adamantly against moving on from loved ones turning into nightmares. that lady was so defensive over her cockroach husband!!
    – it’s also super weird how they have to drug the water supply to keep the nightmares away. something fishy is definitely going on here…
    – i wonder if nightmares are always physical or if they could be psychological too? (like if someone feared they’d never be good enough, and they had a nightmare about it, would they end up *literally* never being good enough?)
    my answers to your questions:
    – i don’t think ness’s fear is unreasonable at all. ptsd is very real and unfortunately lingers even after therapy.
    – as soon as the boat exploded i thought it was intentional. seems too much of a coincidence that help never came and then the boat explodes? i’m thinking they meant to explode cy but got the wrong part of the boat?
    – i’m sure ness’s plan will be to get far away from cy ASAP…though i can say with almost 100% certainty that plan will fail one way or another.

  13. This is delightful… Ness is fun..
    The first line got me right into the book. Well a sister being turn into a giant spider and eating her father in front of her is kind of a traumatic event. So I think all of her reactions is logic and I like that she is not over everything yet. ( not sure if you get what I mean ) I’m totally intrigue about Cy !!!!
    See you tomorrow 😍


  14. I had a really good weekend and am doing great! Got a lot of reading done!

    I really liked the beginning and just as you said the first paragraph really grabbed my attention and made me very interested in reading the rest of the book!

    1. I don’t think her fear is unreasonable. Everyone fears something and in others it manifests more on the outside and might hinter them more in their daily lives. I don’t think anyones fear is unreasonable, we can’t really control what we fear, what we don’t and why. Especially in Ness’s case, having had such a traumatic experience at a young age, it is understandable that she fears the Nightmares so much.
    2. Definitely intentional hahaha. At least that is what I gather from reading the synopsis before starting this book. It might’ve been an accident that Ness and Cy survived, but blowing up the boat itself wasn’t. I’m mainly wondering what the motive for blowing up the boat was, some mail that was on the boat or someone.
    3. Get as far away from Cy as soon as possible and find a way back to her “home” the Friends of the Restful Souls. I think they are swimming towards Palton, where the boat was headed and not back towards Newham.

    I also really like how Ness, as the main character, if so different from other female characters because she is a coward. It is a nice contrast to how usually the females are protrayed as strong. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for female power and them being strong, but the fact that Ness is not makes her very interesting in my eyes with great potential for character growth and development.

  15. I’m really enjoying the start of this book. So far so good with the world building, the intrigue, and I like the way Ness has been set up as our main character.
    Fear can be unreasonable, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing. What Ness went through was a highly traumatic experience and there’s nothing wrong with the fear that has sparked in her. There is more growing for her to do to help overcome her fears, but it’s a great starting place for the book.
    The boat explosion couldn’t have been an accident, surely. I don’t know who or what it was targeting yet, but I think it was intentional.
    Cy is intriguing so far, and I’m interested to see how he can help Ness overcome her fear of Nightmares.

  16. I will mostly keep my comments to myself because I have already finished the book and don’t want to ruin anything. But I just want to say how much I unexpectedly loved this book! It was a really fun read. It’s the first book I finished in less than 24 hours in a while. Glad that there will be a sequel!

  17. I’m sorry to say I’ve already finished the book so it’s not fair to post any ‘what ifs’, lol – but I was hooked from the first chapter. You know you’ve found a good one when your heart leaps for your nightly ‘tea and read’.

  18. I’m liking it. I love the chaos that is this world. I often find myself not liking female protagonists that are weak but in this case it doesn’t bother me. I find her trauma and behaviour to completely understandable and reasonable.
    The boat definetly blew up on purpose.
    I think she will part ways with Cy but get into trouble and they end up back together.

  19. I was so here for the Gotham like vibes I was promised, and so far, the books is nailing those vibes! I can’t wait to see more of this world’s atmosphere!

    I had a really good weekend, finishing the Spice Road and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! Two totally different books, but both so good! I’m looking forward to reading both books sequels!

    So, for City of Nightmares, I really feel for our MC Ness. I cannot imagine witnessing what she did and being okay as an adult. Her fear is totally justified and her relationship with the “cult” is very interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the organisation… seems a little fishy… And while Ness is very fearful with Nightmares, she does seem both brave and aggressive with regular people. I can’t wait to see how she grows throughout the novel!

    I did not see the boat exploding coming! I really thought the rest of the story was going to be on this boat with this isolating atmosphere. So, when it did all go up in flames, I feel like the story could go anywhere! I wonder if the explosion does have anything to do with political things or if some Nightmare was tricked to get onto the boat to be destroyed and the rest of the people needed to be there to keep up pretences and were deemed collateral damage. I could be totally wrong, but I wonder!

    I am very intrigued with Cy and how Ness and his relationship is going to pan out (I would be shocked if it didn’t turn out romantic!). As for her plan, she must be trying to figure out how to get away from him but will somehow end up suck them anyways, or eventually meet up with him again! And I am all here for the forced “being in each other’s presence”!

    I’m looking forward to the next chapters!

  20. Omg! Wow I’m so glad I’m joining in this read-a-long! I was so curious where the pterodactyl would come in (since I LOVE the sprayed edge portraying it) and I’m so glad we got it so early on!
    So far I’m really enjoying it though her constant restating of how her sister “crunches her dads bones” seems a bit much. I do think her reactions are overblown but maybe is leading up to a really shocking 180 later.
    I do love the addition of Cy though I’ve never heard of vampires being afraid of silver only werewolves so I got thrown off until she explained.
    I think the boat explosion is definitely intentional, especially since there were high level people on board with multiple security details. I’m curious how it will affect the rest of the story. Whether it’s just a catalyst for her and Cy’s story or if it has further repercussions for her.
    Also I hope we see more Pryia! I love her spunk!

  21. 1) I don’t think her fear is unreasonable, only her reaction to it. I too would be paranoid if I lived in a place where anyone who dozed off might turn into a monster. But man if it’s just part of your life now then you need to learn how to deal with that fear!

    2) I think intentional, because an accident would make for a boring plot.

    3) Run all the way back to the Friends and hide in a corner forever? LOL

  22. What a fun start to a book, I adore that Ness is terrified of Nightmares. Its such a change from most stories where the main character is a badass and overcomes small fears as they come up. Ness’ fear shapes all of her, it paralyzes her on a physical and emotional level!
    Darling girl just wants to keep her cell brick room and be safe. Although she can be scary in her own right, straight up hurting Cindy and threatening her for the mail run.

    There is no way the explosion was an accident, simply no where would the fun be in that! I hope that Cy (Sigh) and Ness will team up for the long haul to figure out what happened.

    I think Ness will try to strike out as soon as they reach shore though. Not wanting to spend more time than she has to with a Nightmare.

    Very excited to see where this book goes next!

  23. This book is hilarious and I wasn’t excited to read it at first but I’m glad I gave it a chance. The part where the wife said that he husband was just hungry and that she basically didn’t mind that he ate her arm had me rolling!!I identify with the MC because I have a tendency to be on edge most of my life and want to be in control but fear takes over. I’m hoping that she is able to overcome that fear and maybe I will be able to as well.

    P.s cy sounds really hot 🤭

  24. I really hope Ness has some quick character growth. This whole concept of becoming your Nightmare, the varying degrees of it overtaking you, how it happens/can be prevented, etc is fascinating. I already like Cy. Good guy, bad guy, or Morally Grey guy – I like him already.
    Daily Q&A:
    1.) Do you think Ness’s fear is unreasonable?
    2.) Do you think the boat disaster was an accident like Ness thinks, or intentional like Cy seems to think?
    3.) What do you think Ness’s plan will be once they reach the shore?
    1.) This goes beyond fear to childhood trauma, & considering she’s still a teenager, I get it. She also seems to be aware of how she has a tendency to overreact, to err on the side of caution, to be immobilized (physically/mentally/emotionally) by that fear, so here’s hoping she grows into a functional person despite that.
    2.) Considering how shady everyone seems, the weird issue with the door, & how that girl never came back with help (the help that Ness couldn’t even spot on her way back there), I’m leaning more towards the explosion being intentional.
    3.) I think that will depend on where on shore they end up, how tired she is, & if something scarier is around. Cy is probably the lesser of 2 evils considering she already knows he’s a Nightmare, what exact type of Nightmare he is, & that he’s spared/saved her life a few times already, so I’m thinking she’ll stick with him while figuring out the next move.

  25. I actually think Ness is pretty rational in her fears. She might not react in the most productive way but I’m sure she will grow and adapt by the end of the book.

    I did not expect the boat to blow up AT ALL. Definitely think it was intentional.

    I’m not sure if Ness should continue to lay low and pretend to be dead with Cy or if she should go back to her old life at the “not a cult”. Definitely want to see more of Cy in this book. I don’t think he is a bad guy.

  26. I’m really struggling with Ness as a character at the moment and I think it’s because I suffer with anxiety myself. Her fears aren’t unreasonable given what happened to her sister and dad, and she’s bound to be wary of a vampire! I think I’m just used to seeing strong, brave characters in the books I read and I’m torn between enjoying seeing a different character and looking forwards to seeing how she develops, but also finding her constant fear of every single thing annoying (but I also understand that from my own experience!)

    I do quite like Cy already though and I don’t think the explosion was an accident!

  27. I find it hard to believe for anyone living in a world without “Nightmares” to find her Ness’ fear unreasonable. These are literally people’s nightmares walking around. It’s scary and unexpected, and also gives me The Metamorphosis (Kafka) vibes.
    I like that Cy is not mean – I’m curious whether Chapter 8 begins with them still in water, or if they have reached the shore. I think Ness’ instinct is to run and hide but will probably somehow get entangled with Cy into investigating what caused the boat to explore. I’m definitely with Sigh on that being an intentional explosion. Why? I don’t know yet!

  28. Do you think Ness’s fear is unreasonable?
    I think PRSD shows itself in so many different ways. And I can only imagine how hard it would be to face the “thing” that killed your family.
    Do you think the boat disaster was an accident like Ness thinks, or intentional like Cy seems to think?
    I think it was intentional I just don’t know why.
    What do you think Ness’s plan will be once they reach the shore?
    I think she will stick with Cy and try to figure out who set off the bomb and why.

  29. I started it yesterday (I’m always behind 🙈) and so far I’m loving it.
    It’s so original and Ness is not at all the typical badass FMC we are used to.
    Cy is pretty intriguing and I can’t wait to see if/how he manages to help Ness overcoming her fears.

  30. 1. Do you think Ness’s fear is unreasonable?: No. I feel like it’s a pretty clear trauma response. Sure, it may not seem logical from an outside perspective, but anxiety and panic attacks follows their own rules and logic.

    2. Do you think the boat disaster was an accident like Ness thinks, or intentional like Cy seems to think?: I think Cy is onto something

    3. What do you think Ness’s plan will be once they reach the shore?: she might stick with Cy, but I do think her trauma will fuel some of her future decisions.

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