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The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
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Book Name: The Nightmare Affair
Author: Mindee Arnett
Publisher(s): Tor Teen (US)
Formatt: Hardcover / eBook
Genre(s): YA Fantasy / Paranormal
Release Date: March 5, 2013 (US)

So, this is one of the newest Young Adult titles to come out of Tor Teen this year. While perusing the bookstore on my birthday with my fiancé, I noticed the lovely jacket cover (pictured below).

Because it is human nature, and we all judge everything first by appearance, I was immediately intrigued by the silhouette of a girl in a graveyard. Seeing as I myself am frequently found roaming graveyards on warm days, I was immediately interested in what this book had to offer. It was also helpful that my fiancé read the summary on the inside flap and told me that he thought it sounded promising. He’s normally right about that sort of thing, so I decided to pick this one up. I’m glad that I did. It didn’t disappoint.

The Nightmare Affair is about a sixteen-year-old named Dusty Everhart. Dusty may seem like your average red-haired, angst-ridden, somewhat rebellious youth, but there is a lot more to her than meets the eye. She is a Nightmare.

Literally.

She sneaks into a sleeping person’s dreams and does something called “dream-feeding,” where she sits on the individual’s chest and feeds on the their imagination—a magical substance called fictus. Nightmares must do this in order to live, similarly to how a vampire must drink blood. However, Dusty is normal in almost every other sense. She sleeps and eats and goes to school. But, like Dusty, there is more to her school than can be seen at first glance.

Arkwell Academy is a boarding school for magickind, and among some of Dusty’s classmates you can find other creatures such as mermaids, sirens, fairies, werewolves, wizards, and demons. They take classes on magic casting, magickind history, alchemy, and so on. Their existence alongside humans, known as “ordinaries,” is kept secret by a powerful force called The Will, which controls the magic that each magickind has access to, keeping them in check and from harming the ordinaries or each other.

The Will also dictates how often a Nightmare can dream-feed, and the book begins with Dusty breaking into the home of an ordinary named Eli Booker, the hottest guy at Dusty’s ordinary school before her Nightmare powers manifested. Her magical hunger dictates that she must feed on Eli, something that she is conflicted about (partially due to the fact that he is steamy and sleeping only in boxers, and…well, that’s pretty much it). Climbing up onto his rather muscled chest, she places her hands on either side of his face and enters his dream. While in Eli’s dream, Dusty experiences something she has never felt before. Where dreams are normally whispy and unclear as we sometimes remember them being after we awake, this dream was perfectly clear, felt entirely real, and set in a place that Eli Booker, as an ordinary, had no reason to ever be: Coleville Cemetery, the local burial place for magickind located on the grounds of Arkwell Academy. And there is a dead girl in this dream, a fairy that Dusty knows from the magickind school.

The trick to dream feeding is not being seen in the dream by the dreamer. But in her disorientation, Dusty grows careless and Eli spots her, kicking her out of his head. She tries to knock him out with a couple of sleep spells, but they just bounce off of him, a problem that she has never experienced before. Dusty manages to escape through the window, but finds out very soon that what she just witnessed in Eli’s dream was not a dream after all.

It soon becomes apparent that Eli and Dusty are connected, and they are the only people who can help solve the mystery of who killed the girl, figure out why she was killed, and stop the perpetrator before he or she kills again. But first she is going to need to get over sitting on sexy Eli’s chest, because entering his dreams is the only way to get the clues they need to figure out what’s going on.

What I Liked:

– Dusty seemed like a realistic character. She had flaws, but she also had incredible strengths.

– Nightmares aren’t popular for being parasitic, and lots of individuals make that fact known to Dusty. I like that she isn’t loved for her differences or placed in the hero role right away in the story. She is bullied, something that young readers can identify with.

– Her best friend Selene is a siren who’s against the sexual objectification of her species. How great is that?

– Eli Booker. Meow.

– The incorporation of the “real story” behind certain myths from fantasy, such as King Arthur and Excalibur. I like seeing variations on old myths.

What Was Not So Great:

– The resemblance to Harry Potter. There was honestly too much. The ragtag team of three friends getting into more trouble than they should be, the magical school that exists right under the noses of the ordinaries, and (minor spoilers) traitorous teachers.

– The somewhat predictable plot line. I knew who the bad guy was way earlier than I should have. This might not be the case for everyone who reads the book, but if you’ve read a lot of YA fiction then you can start to see the signs early on.

Quite an enjoyable read, if I do say so myself. There is a sequel in the works, most likely due out next year. I look forward to seeing what sort of trouble the trio gets into in the next installment. 🙂

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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett, 10.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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2 Comments

  1. A.E. Marling says:

    An interesting premise, with a delightfully flawed heroine. Sound delectable.

    Thank you for writing the review, Rachel.

  2. Elfy says:

    This sounds like a lot of fun. I do like the premise and as I deal with a number of mythical creations in my own fiction (which is also YA) and try to put a different spin on them I am interested in what others also do with it.

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