Published March 5th 2013 by Tor Teen
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.
Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.
Then Eli’s dream comes true.
Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.
*An advanced copy was provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review -
A big thanks to Tor Teen*
The Nightmare Affair was a book I was immediately attracted to as soon as I laid eyes on it. Beyond it's alluring cover, the idea of a living Nightmare being a breed of 'Magickind' and what that entailed appealed to me very much. Not only am I a HUGE lover of magical elements in my books but I have always been fascinated by dreams. Needless to say that when the two themes collide, I'm in! Overall, I found The Nightmare Affair to be a light, easy-to-read fantasy. I was quickly absorbed in both the fantasy world created & the dream world we get to explore though I wish we would have had even more 'dream-sequences' to enjoy. For the most part the characters were diverse & memorable. And even though some of the twists I was able to predict, the plot still kept my interest & left me eager to spend more time at Arkwell Academy.
The story begins with Dusty Everhart who is the MC and a Nightmare, meaning she needs to feed on other people's dreams. As a Nightmare, she feeds on 'fictus' the sort of 'fuel' of dreams made possible by human's imaginations. So Dusty is on one of her bi-weekly sessions to quench her need for fictus, only this time she happened to land in Eli Booker's bedroom- a boy she used to go to school with. A cute boy to boot! Things go from awkward to scary when Dusty finds Eli dreaming of a murder. Going from bad to worst, Eli's dream turns out to have been prophetic, the murder he dreamed of becomes a reality...and it's no coincidence that Dusty witness it all! And so begins a quest to investigate what's really going on here, both in real life & in dreams, before the killer strikes again.
Easily the best part of this book for me was the creative world building. I loved the different magical castes and how they are all brought together. The dream-world was unique & brimming with possibilities which I hope we be explored in more depth in future books. Needless to say those scenes were easily some of my favorites in the entire book. Author Mindee Arnett does a good job of meshing her own unique ideas with other more familiar, well established tropes. The resulting world felt fresh and enchanting but not overwhelming as some of the more high-concept fantasies can be.
I liked the assorted cast of characters too. Dusty as the main protagonist was a very relatable snarky teenage girl. I liked her attitude, her awkwardness and her determination. Even though she made some mistakes along the way, it was easy to see where she was coming from and why she had acted the way she did. Her story arc was well rounded & satisfying while leaving plenty of room to grown and change from here. I really liked Selene & Eli too, they were nice supporting players to help Dusty along and their personalities were distinct and memorable. Some of the teachers & villains did come off a little too familiar for my taste, but it wasn't enough to really frustrate to the point of affecting my interest in any of them for too long.
The plot was engaging & honestly I found the whole thing fun from start to finish. I never found my interest wavering or my thoughts drifting elsewhere. When I sat down to read, I was invested. Some of the twists were a little obvious (and a few were a little too familiar *ahem*) but other really left me guessing how everything would play out. Surprising or not, this was a fun read for me throughout. The ending did a nice job of bringing the whole story together - I loved the world Mindee Arnett created & the characters who inhabit it. There certainly is room for the series to grow from here & I look forward to what is in store for Dusty & the rest of her friends at Arkwell Academy.
My rating : 3.5 out out of 5 stars ★★★★☆