Nightshift: Victoria Hancox
Reviewed By Fiona Dodwell
Disclaimer: I died several times before I got to write this review.
Don’t panic, though, it was only an adventure game storybook….
So, what type of thing do you want in a “choose your own adventure” story gamebook? I loved them as a teenager, I tried out a few of them, but my favourite was always Hell House by Steve Jackson, probably because it was the creepiest, darkest one I could find. Ever the horror fan, I was always on the lookout for those types of adventure gamebooks.
When I found out, just a few weeks back, that there was a new gamebook – Nightshift, by Victoria Hancox – I was really excited. The story is set at a hospital, where you, the main character, are on a nightshift. You start work at 9 pm and at first, everything seems to be as it should, however, things swiftly change… As the story unfolds, you find that after you take your first tea break of the night, something terrible is happening in the dark corridors of the creepy hospital. The wards seem very different, as if you’ve been transported to an older building, odd characters appear in places they shouldn’t, strange voices can be heard, and suddenly you are thrust into a world where you must find clues, make smart decisions – and take lots of notes!
I really enjoyed this book, however, I am writing from the viewpoint of someone who has yet to actually SURVIVE! I have attempted several times now (about five, I think) and have even come quite far into it, yet I haven’t managed to finish to the very end. Whether that’s because I am just “missing” something vital, or whether I am not taking the right notes, I’m not sure. Still, it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the experience and I am going to try again because I want to escape from being trapped in this nightmarish hospital from hell! In a way, it’s a good thing that the book isn’t easy to finish because it feels like I get more “experience” out of the adventure.
I enjoyed the setting of the story, and I loved some of the characters I came across in my journey. I won’t leave any spoilers in this review, but there is a lot of occult/spells/witchcraft involved and so for a horror fan like myself, I had a lot of fun with that aspect of the tale. Some parts of the story are genuinely creepy and disturbing.
If I had any criticisms (and this is only a very minor thing, it didn’t bother me much at all) it would be that a couple of times, I’d choose a number and head to a new chapter only to find it didn’t really smoothly “flow” from where I’d been. I know it must be very hard when writing/compiling a gamebook, to make sure everything connects and flows, but it’s just something I noticed a couple of times. Also, there were certain sections/pages that felt very strong and descriptive with the storytelling, and I felt really pulled in, yet there were other times it felt like there were a few “you are in a corridor, to turn left do this, to turn right, choose that” and that felt lacking, as if maybe more could be said/described to enhance certain sections for the reader? Maybe I am just forgetting that this is the nature of any gamebook and that’s the way it has to be, perhaps…? Either way, these two very minor criticisms did not spoil my enjoyment and as a whole, the book did work well.
I think Victoria Hancox did a really good job here, and despite the fact I have not actually managed to live through the nightshift yet, I have enjoyed my time trying. The writing is good, the setting is creepy as hell, and it’s basically a lot of fun.
I recommend giving it a go…. you may survive and live to tell the tale!
Do you prefer your gamebooks to have less dice and more gore?
Welcome to the Nightshift!
Normally, you turn up at the hospital at 9 PM and prepare to face whatever comes through the door. You’ve patched up gunshot wounds, plated broken bones and drained abscesses. Sometimes, you’ve spent the entire night watching TV, feeling bored and just willing the phone to ring. Waiting for something to happen. But what if something did happen.
What would you do if your ordinary routine just turned upside down?
In this adventure, you are not a hero. You’re just a hospital worker who’s plunged into an interactive battle against demons, witches and time itself. You’re caught in the middle of a nightmare but will you be able to use your wits and survive? There’s a difference with this adventure though. There’s no dice to throw and no battles to fight. You won’t get through by being lucky and you definitely have no spells or swords. What will get you through to the end of the nightshift is what you already have—knowledge, skills, memory and a pencil—the best advice is that you make notes of all the evidence and hints you find! You just might make it out if you can piece together the clues and figure out the puzzles.
We’ll see you on the other side!
Fiona Dodwell has been writing fiction for almost 10 years, with several horror/paranormal titles released under various publishers. Alongside this, she is a freelance writer for various websites and magazines. She has written features for Warner Music, Made In Shoreditch Magazine, Music-news.com and Tremr.
Fiona has studied Psychology, Film Studies, Theology and Health & Social Care.
Her biggest passion is reading dark fiction, as well as creating new stories of her own – the creepier the better!
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