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Monster Hunters (Nightmare Academy Series #1)

Monster Hunters (Nightmare Academy Series #1)

4.7 15
by Dean Lorey, Brandon Dorman (Illustrator)

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Join Charlie Benjamin on a "fast-paced, action-packed" adventure. When Charlie's nightmares bring monsters to Earth, Charlie gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn to control his powers at the incredible Nightmare Academy. "marvelous creatures" greet Charlie and his new friends as they embark on "a straight-forward thrill ride" of "rip-roaring monster slayings"


Join Charlie Benjamin on a "fast-paced, action-packed" adventure. When Charlie's nightmares bring monsters to Earth, Charlie gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn to control his powers at the incredible Nightmare Academy. "marvelous creatures" greet Charlie and his new friends as they embark on "a straight-forward thrill ride" of "rip-roaring monster slayings" in a debut novel that's "pure entertainment."

Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Rip-roaring monster slayings...readers will appreciate the book’s cinematic vividness...a straightforward thrill ride.”
VOYA - Kate Rose
Nightmare Academy is a coming-of-age story mixing reality and mystery. Charlie Benjamin would be an average thirteen-year-old except for his unusual situation and "gift." Even in his new world, Charlie has issues fitting in and his "abnormality" pushes him into an adult role. The book's tone is humorous and light even when violence arises and devotion to family and friends is shown. This book is written for ten and up and presents fantasy with a comic touch reminiscent of the Harry Potter series.
VOYA - Sarah Cofer
Monsters under the bed and ghosts in the closet are all too real for thirteen-year-old Charlie Benjamin, otherwise known as Nightmare Charlie. Charlie is afflicted with vividly terrifying nightmares that cause strange phenomena around him. After one of Charlie's nightmares portals a deadly monster into this world, agents from the Nightmare Division, a secret organization devoted to controlling the Nethercreature population, rescue Charlie and declare that Charlie's "gift" of nightmares is exceptionally powerful. They want to enroll Charlie in Nightmare Academy where he will learn to control his power. Once at school, Charlie and his classmates are sorted into Banishers (fighters) or Nethermancers (portal openers.) It is revealed that Charlie is both: an extremely rare Double-Threat, which explains Charlie's tremendous power and why the worst Netherstalkers, The Named, have chosen Charlie as an enemy, used his powers to get into this world, and kidnapped his parents. Here is yet another book about a young outcast who discovers that he has "a gift" and attends a school to harness this power while fighting the evil foes bent on stopping him, along with his two not-as-gifted companions. Some readers might enjoy this Harry Potter read-alike, whereas others might be annoyed by the multitude of similarities. It is a fast-paced, action-packed read, full of twists and turns, fighting with monsters, and even some cool inventions like the "Salviometer" that tests DNA in saliva to identify people. The audience for this book is most likely middle school reluctant readers, fantasy fans, or those in Harry Potter withdrawal.
Kirkus Reviews
Wild imagination and a formulaic plot provide lots of fun and excitement as a boy faces his nightmares in reality. Isolated, lonely Charlie has dreams that leave his room in a shambles as monsters under the bed emerge to tear up the place. Charlie has a gift for connecting with the netherworld, where a menagerie of nasty beasties strives to get into the real world. He winds up in an organization dedicated to fighting the fiends. Guided by de rigueur eccentric professors and odd fellow students, Charlie struggles to control his gift before he unintentionally lets loose all the forces of Hell. Lorey invents a plethora of marvelous creatures, most notably the "Trout of Truth," along with his over-the-top humans. If the one-dimensional personalities remain somewhat standard-issue in their quirkiness, so what? It's Men in Black for kids. Pure entertainment with no thinking required-and that's just fine. (Fiction. 8-16)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Rip-roaring monster slayings...readers will appreciate the book’s cinematic vividness...a straightforward thrill ride.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Rip-roaring monster slayings...readers will appreciate the book’s cinematic vividness...a straightforward thrill ride.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Nightmare Academy Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Nightmare Academy #1: Monster Hunters

Chapter One

Monster in the Model 3

On most days, Charlie Benjamin was pretty sure he was the loneliest kid on planet Earth. He went to school by himself in his home on a quiet street inside a gated community. Although the houses all looked nearly alike on the outside, there were several different models a buyer could choose from.

The Benjamins lived in a model 3.

"The model 3 is the superior model," Charlie's father frequently told him. He was an exact man with the exacting name of Barrington. "The 1's are obviously prototypes—less said about the 1's, the better. The 2's, however, are what happens when you rework something too quickly. You often take two steps backward to take one step forward. Which brings us to the 3's—the simple, solid, dependable 3's."

The model 3 was Charlie Benjamin's prison.

At thirteen, he was short for his age, with unruly sandy-colored hair, dark brown eyes, and a spray of freckles across his nose and cheeks. His elbows and knees were remarkably unscabbed and he had virtually no bruises, thanks to his well-meaning mother's insistence that he stay inside the house.

"It's an uncertain world," she often told him. "I can protect you in here, but once you step outside . . ." This was always followed by a grave shake of the head, as if the horrors of life outside of the model 3 were too painful to contemplate.

"I know you keep saying that," Charlie said to her one Saturday morning after a particularly grave shake of the head. "But that doesn't make it true. I'm tired of being stuck here all the time. I want togo to regular school."

"Regular school?" his mother replied. "Honey, we have everything a regular school has right here. Books and computers, papers and pencils, tests and grades . . ."

"But no students," Charlie interrupted. "I mean, other than me."

"That's true," his mother agreed pleasantly. She was such a pleasant woman, in fact, that she'd never even blamed her own mother for naming her Olga. "And thank goodness, because no students means no teasing, no bullying, no making fun of you just because you're a little bit different."

Even though Charlie was the first to admit that he was more than a little bit different, protecting him from the abuse of other kids by locking him away in the house seemed a little to him like removing a splinter in his finger by chopping off his hand—it got the job done, but at what cost?

The price is just too high, he thought as he heard the mailman shove the morning mail through a chute in the front door. With a sigh, he walked over to retrieve the usual assortment of bills and catalogs—always for his parents, never for him. And that was when, to his astonishment, he spotted a small blue envelope addressed to "Charlie Benjamin."

"That's me," he gasped.

Almost in a daze, Charlie opened the envelope, to reveal an invitation to a party—and not just any party. It was a sleepover party at the home of some kids who lived just down the street. Charlie didn't know them personally, of course—he didn't know any kids his own age—but clearly someone there had taken pity on the small, strange boy who lived in the model 3.

Charlie read the invitation twice to make sure it really said what he thought it said; then he read it once more for good measure. Once he was satisfied that he wasn't dreaming the whole thing, he showed it to his parents.

"Absolutely not," his father said after glancing at the invitation.

"But why?" Charlie shot back. "I've been good. I've done all my schoolwork—in fact, I just finished the chapter on geography."

"Honey, what your father means," his mother said, "is that we certainly wish you could go, but what if you have one of your 'nightmares'?"

One of his nightmares.

Even though it had been years since Charlie had had a catastrophic nightmare in public, the thought of it happening again made him absolutely weak with dread. And yet—here was an actual, real opportunity to make a friend.

He couldn't pass it up.

So he begged his parents. He pleaded. He offered to do the dishes for a year and mow the lawn and learn French. He argued that it had been so long since his last unspeakable nightmare that he had surely outgrown them. Finally, he told his parents that going to the sleepover party was the only present he wanted for Christmas and his birthday combined.

For the next two years.

Three, if that's what it took.

After much arguing behind closed doors, his parents finally relented. Which is how, later that night, Charlie found himself skipping up the steps of a stranger's house with an overnight bag slung over his shoulder.

"You know how to get ahold of us if utter disaster occurs?" Charlie's mother asked nervously, following behind him.

"Yes, mom, I know how to use a phone."

"Do you want me to quickly review any of the fu's I've taught you—kung or otherwise?" his father offered.

"I'm not gonna need to fight anyone with kung fu, dad. Nothing's gonna happen, trust me."

"We never should have permitted this," his mother moaned. "And a sleepover no less! What were we thinking?"

"Nothing will go wrong," Charlie said, looking longingly at the other boys inside the house. They were clearly already having a blast. "I won't have any nightmares tonight—trust me."

"Of course we do, son," Mr. Benjamin replied as he handed Charlie a cell phone. "We know nothing will go wrong, but just in case it does, I put our home number on speed dial so you can call quickly if something absolutely catastrophic occurs."

"Thanks, Dad," Charlie said resignedly, taking the phone from him.

"And if you look in your backpack," his mother added, "you'll find earplugs in a little Baggie. You can use them if the other children tease you and call you horrible names."

Nightmare Academy #1: Monster Hunters. Copyright © by Dean Lorey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Dean Lorey is a Hollywood screenwriter whose credits include co-executive producer of the cult TV hit Arrested Development. He was inspired to write Nightmare Academy, his first series for young readers, by his personal enthusiasm for imagined worlds and video games. The first book in the trilogy, monster hunters, received the Southern California Booksellers' Award for Best Children's Novel of the Year. Dean Lorey lives in Calabasas, California, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their sons, Chris (first reader for the Nightmare Academy trilogy) and Alex (then too young to read).

Brandon Dorman lives in Puyallup, Washington, and is the creator of Pirates of the Sea! and Santa's Stowaway, and the illustrator of Jack Prelutsky's Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face, as well as Halloween Night, by Marjorie Dennis Murray.

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Monster Hunters 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
MDB More than 1 year ago
The idea is familiar: young Charlie Benjamin, always an outcast, gets to 13 and finds out that he's not so much weird as he on a course with destiny. He's actually a gifted person who needs education and training in order to hone his talents, and he's whisked away from his childhood home in order to seek his training in an unfamiliar place. In book one, we meet the Charlie and his two friends Theordore Dagget and Violet Sweet, along with his adult supporters and those who want him to fail. We also meet a really nasty demon named Barakkas who also would like to have him for lunch. In the meantime, Barakkas has captured our hero's parents in order to force an exchange of an amulet the demon lost in his meeting with our hero. Of course, everyone has to rally to support Charlie and help him save his parents. It's Harry Potter meets the Seems, but it's still fun. It's pretty well-written and fast paced. The author doesn't spend too much time on descriptive language, and his characters are actually well-conceived. There are just enough adjectives. He skillfully uses dialogue to give the reader all the insight needed into the characters. It shows promise. Dean Lorey does a good job of keeping his readers engaged, and his writing can be witty. He's no Rick Riordan or JK Rowling who are stars, but he's still very good. He's much better than James Owen. Note: The characters learn and REMEMBER their lessons, and this is book 1! (Yes, I'm still annoyed about books 4 and 5 of the Imaginarium Geographica series.) I'm looking forward to reading books 2 and 3 soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
T-Bones More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much the first time that I am rereading it a second time with my son. We're almost done and he really looking forward to reading book two.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i hope on reading the rest of the series