“I won’t, Mom!” Hazel swears, assuming Mom means that she should try to be whatever she wants to be – a doctor, or lawyer, or even a mermaid. Hazel is just nine, but she really means to keep that promise.
Seventeen years later, she wonders if she’s broken it – or maybe just failed to fully realize it, because she hasn’t become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a mermaid. Or anything much, really. Yet, in one way, she has kept her promise – because Hazel is a Grand Champion Dreamer. When she’s asleep, she dreams a dazzling universe full of heroes and monsters, princesses and goddesses, cities and temples and gardens that make the most wonderful places on Earth seem dull in comparison.
During the day, she does what she has to do to pay the bills. At bedtime, she turns in, confident that she will dream, and that the sun will come up in the morning. So on the evening of her last day, she embraces the night wholeheartedly and drifts into the universe of her imagination.
But when the alarm goes off, she opens her eyes to darkness. The sun hasn’t come up, the world outside has become a City of Night, and the dwellers there are Night Shifters – gods and elves, daemons and djinns, dreamers and wizards. All of them have their own agendas, all of them are chasing Hazel – and as she fights to understand this world of dreams and her place in it, she can’t help remembering what her mother said.
And she wonders. All those years ago, when she swore to never give up on her dreams, did she really understand what she was promising?