The Nightmare Affair is the first in the gripping Arkwell Academy trilogy by Mindee Arnett.
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.
About the Author
MINDEE ARNETT lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She's addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic and the macabre. Her short stories have appeared in various magazines. Arnett has a Master of Arts in English literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She blogs and tweets, and is the author of the Arkwell Academy series, including The Nightmare Affair and The Nightmare Dilemma.
Read an Excerpt
Scene of the Crime
Breaking and entering wasn’t as easy as it looked in the movies. Especially not from the second story of a house in the suburbs. Yet there I was, perched on the ledge by my tippy toes and tugging on the stupid window that refused to budge even though I could see it wasn’t locked. My feet were starting to cramp.
I gave the window another hard tug, and it came free at once, smacking the top of the frame with a loud thump. The force of it knocked me off balance, and I tumbled inside, landing on my face.
Way to go, Dusty, I thought.
But it could’ve been worse. Might’ve gone the other way.
Panicked by the noise I was making, I sat up, certain the bedroom’s occupant would be coming at me with a baseball bat any second. My heart felt like a jackhammer trying to break its way through my chest. I froze, listening for movement but heard only the soft sounds of someone sleeping.
I looked up and saw a huge bed towering over me. A repugnant smell, like the inside of a gym locker, filled my nose. I glanced down and realized I was sitting on a pile of clothes, including what appeared to be several pairs of dirty boxer shorts. Gross.
I stood and tugged the bottom of my fitted black tee down around my hips, taking a deep breath. I could smell the person’s dreams from here. Those dreams were the reason I’d broken in. I wasn’t some criminal or weirdo who liked watching people sleep or anything. I was just an average sixteen-year-old girl who happened to be the offspring of a normal human father and a mother who was a Nightmare.
She was one of those mythic creatures who sat on your chest while you were asleep and gave you bad dreams, the kind where you woke up struggling to breathe. Some stories said that Nightmares were demons (not true), while others said they were “hags,” as in scary old women who lived in the forest and abducted lost kids to cook for supper (more true, although I didn’t recommend saying so to my mother).
Only kidding. Moira Nimue-Everhart didn’t eat children, but she did eat the stuff dreams were made of—fictus. Nightmares had to dream-feed to live, including me.
I approached the side of the bed. The occupant was lying on his stomach. Go figure. The subject—I refused to think of him as a victim—was almost always on his stomach. At least this guy didn’t sleep in the buff, too. Not that the red boxers hid much. The sight of his naked back stunned me. It was so perfect. Even in the darkness, I could see the muscles outlining the backside of his ribs. More muscles bulged in his arms.
He was by far the sexiest dream-subject I’d encountered, and I fought off an urge to run away. Not that I preferred my subjects to be ugly or anything, but something in the middle would’ve been all right.
Trying to ignore the more interesting bits of that naked body, I reached over and gently took hold of the guy’s arm. One soft tug and he rolled over. When I saw his face, I almost cried out in alarm.
A sensation of weightlessness came over me from the shock of recognition, as if I were on a roller coaster that had just plunged over the first hill.
Then I really did try to run away, even though I knew it was pointless. I made it as far as the window before something that felt like invisible tentacles grabbed hold of my body and pulled me back to the bedside. I sagged against it in defeat, knowing better than to fight The Will. It was too powerful a spell. No, not just a spell, more a law, like gravity. The magickind government created The Will to prevent magical misbehavior. It kept fairies from stealing babies, witches from turning people into toads, and for a Nightmare like me, it determined whose dreams I fed on, when, and how much.
Basically The Will says, “Jump,” and Dusty says, “You got it.”
The invisible grip on my body eased, and I shook off the unpleasant feeling of being manhandled by a magical spell. Trying to ignore the trembling in my knees, I looked down at that familiar face once again.
Eli Booker was the hottest guy at my old high school, maybe in all of Chickery, Ohio, itself. He was a sophomore like me, but his hair was black and his eyes cornflower blue. Tall and with a face so handsome even old ladies swooned at the sight of it, he was the guy every girl crushed on. Didn’t hurt that he had a bit of a bad-boy, daredevil reputation, either. My eyes dropped to the scorpion tattoo on the left side of his chest. I’d heard rumors that he had one but this was the first time I’d seen proof. I wondered how he’d gotten it.
I forced my eyes away, aware of how quickly my heart was beating. So, yeah, even I had wasted a daydream or two fantasizing about him, and now I had to kneel on his chest and enter his dream.
Great. Who knew The Will had such a sense of humor?
Still, I wasn’t about to sit on him half-naked like that. I grabbed the sheet lying rumpled at the foot of the bed and swung it over him. Eli sighed as the sheet touched him, and my heart leaped into my throat. I held my breath, expecting the worst.
When he didn’t wake, I screwed up my courage and climbed onto the bed. If I didn’t, The Will would start nagging me to get on with it. If I resisted too long, the spell would get physical again. I planted my feet on either side of Eli’s arms and squatted down until the majority of my body weight rested on his muscular chest. Trust me, it was as strange as it sounded and even stranger being the person doing it. Once I was in position, an ache burned inside me like a terrible, desperate thirst. My body craved the fictus it needed to replenish my magic.
A soft moan escaped Eli’s throat, but this time I didn’t panic. Once a Nightmare was in place around a victim … er … subject, the magic kicked in, rendering the person powerless, even to wake. Which was why a girl like me, five foot four and 115 pounds, could sit on top of a sleeping boy without his knowing. Thank goodness for the little things.
I closed my eyes and exhaled, placing my fingers against his forehead. Bright light burst inside my mind like professional-grade fireworks as my consciousness left my body and entered the dream world of Eli Booker.
I knew at once something was different. I might be new to the Nightmare gig, not having come into my powers until a couple of months ago, but I’d done this enough to worry at the strange intensity of the colors swirling around me as the dream world came into focus. Most dreams were gray and foggy, old black-and-white horror movies, the kind with wide-angled shots of the rickety castle. This one was in full Technicolor. I felt like Dorothy first stepping out of her house into the Land of Oz.
I stood in the middle of a cemetery, surrounded by crumbling headstones and mausoleums thick with ivy. It was nighttime, but the full moon overhead shone bright enough that I could see the dark green of the ivy and the way its leaves stirred in the faint breeze. The murmur of voices echoed eerily around me, and for a moment I thought they might be ghosts. Then I turned and saw a bunch of police officers milling about with flashlights in hand. The presence of cops didn’t surprise me; Eli’s dad was a detective.
I looked around, trying to find Eli. With so many people, tombs, and trees scattered about the place, he could be anywhere. But I had to find him quick. Rule número uno in dream-walking: always know the subject’s location. It was absolutely essential not to have any physical contact with the dreamer. Touching them would break all the enchantments holding them in the dream and make them wake up. It was a lesson I’d learned the painful way.
Not seeing Eli anywhere, I flew into the air to get a bird’s-eye view. I spotted him at last on the other side of a supersized mausoleum, the kind reserved for an entire family’s worth of dead bodies. He looked strange, dressed up in a fancy gray suit with an obnoxious orange-and-blue necktie. It was the kind of thing his father wore when he gave statements to the local news channels about cases, and I guessed Eli was dreaming that he was a detective. I grinned. The whole thing was sort of sweet, like a kid playing dress-up. And totally out of character for someone like Eli, a guy who I imagined thought of himself as way too cool and rebellious to want to grow up and be like his dad. Or at least a guy too cool to admit it.
I lowered myself to the ground, a safe distance away from Eli. One of the best things about dream-walking was that reality was flexible. I could fly, change my appearance, you name it. Usually the first thing I did when arriving in a dream was to replace my frizzy red hair with sleek, straight platinum. Not this time though. I was too distracted by the dream’s strangeness for vanity.
My gaze fell on the name etched in the stone above the doorway of the nearest mausoleum—KIRKWOOD. This wasn’t any old graveyard Eli was dreaming about, but Coleville Cemetery, the local burial place for magickind. Only that was impossible. Coleville was located on the grounds of Arkwell Academy—my high school. It was a school for magickind, with twelve-foot-high, magically enforced fences and security-guarded gates, and completely inaccessible to ordinaries. Eli couldn’t have been here before.
Yet somehow he must’ve been. The details were too good. The place looked exactly like it did in real life, right down to the bell tower in the distance and the odd placement of statues and stone benches among the grave markers. Coleville wasn’t just a cemetery, but a local recreational spot for Arkwell students and teachers, sort of like the campus green, only with dead people.
The heady scent of lilac bushes and jasmine tickled my nose. Even the smells were right on. They were so real, for a moment I almost forgot I was in a dream.
That was impossible, too. Dreams were never so close to reality. Most were like trips through the funhouse, complete with distorted images, naked people—usually the dreamer himself—and disturbing settings like public rest rooms that resembled torture chambers.
I focused on Eli, trying to ignore my growing unease. He was talking to some of the uniformed officers, a serious look on his face. He kept gesturing behind him to where some more cops stood circled around something. Curiosity got the better of me, and I walked over.
Sprawled on the ground lay a pale-faced girl with bright blond hair, the kind I would’ve killed for in real life. Only, it looked as if someone had killed her. She was perfectly still, her eyes open but staring at nothing. Dark, purplish bruises rimmed her throat like a grotesque tattoo.
A thrill of fear went through me, and I covered my mouth to muffle a scream. It was Rosemary Vanholt, one of the fairies who attended Arkwell Academy. And she wasn’t just any fairy; she was the daughter of Consul Vanholt, the head of the Magi Senate. A lot of the politicians’ kids went to Arkwell. The magickind capital city of the United States was located nearby on a hidden island somewhere in the middle of Lake Erie. The lake itself was one of the most magical places in America.
She’s like the president’s daughter. And someone had murdered her.
“It’s just a dream,” I whispered. It was possible Eli had seen Rosemary around town or that he knew her. Seniors like her were required to hang around ordinaries for practice sometimes. That was the whole point of a place like Arkwell, to teach magickind how to live undetected in the human world.
Sure, that made sense, but it didn’t explain the Coleville setting. There wasn’t one for that.
On the verge of a freak-out, I turned around, trying to put more distance between me and Rosemary’s body.
In my horror I hadn’t realized that Eli had moved. He now stood less than a yard away from me, so tall and physically imposing he might as well have been a brick wall in the path.
“Crap,” I whispered, sidestepping to avoid him. My foot caught on a tombstone, and I stumbled but managed to swerve my momentum left, barely missing a collision. Too close for comfort, I hurried past Eli, heading for a safe distance.
Something touched my arm, and I shrieked as a jolt of pain went through my entire existence. I turned to see Eli’s gaze fixed on my face, his hand gripping my arm. The world around me began to slip away, the colors melting like fresh paint in the rain. Then my consciousness was hurled out of the dream back into my body hard enough that I screamed again—for real this time. I let go of Elis forehead and grabbed my own, trying to stop my brains from rolling around like marbles inside my skull.
The pressure helped for a moment, but then Eli sat up and shoved me. I tumbled off the bed, landing on my back. I tried to take a breath, found I couldn’t, and panicked, arms and legs thrashing. Eli’s bewildered face appeared over me. He grabbed me by the shoulders and hauled me to my feet as easily as if I weighed nothing at all.
As soon as I was upright, my wind came back. So did my senses, and I cast the corrector spell like I’d been taught to do in moments like this. “Aphairein!”
The spell struck Eli, then bounced, hitting me instead. The corrector spell worked like an undo button on a computer, but it wasn’t meant to be self-administered. Instead of undoing my actions, it slammed into me with the force of a battering ram. Eli still had hold of my shoulders, and both of us went crashing to the ground this time. He landed on top of me so hard I felt like I’d been sat on by an elephant.
“Get off,” I said, struggling to breathe. I cast another spell at him, but it bounced, too. What the—?
Eli rolled off me and stood up. When I realized he’d been lying on top of me in only his red boxers, I blushed from head to toe. My skin was so hot I thought I’d turn to ash any second.
“Who the hell are you?” Eli pointed at me, his chest muscles flexing in a way that made me want to giggle.
I resisted the urge and leaped to my feet. We were close enough to the window that the moonlight shone full on my face.
Eli made a choking sound. “I know you. What are you doing here? And what’s wrong with your eyes? They’re … glowing?”
I groaned inwardly, ashamed that this hot boy who’d probably never noticed me before was now seeing the worst of me, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Stupid, stupid, unreliable magic. In the daytime, Nightmares looked as human as anybody else, our unusually pale eyes strange but not alarming. At night, our eyes glowed white. The glamour I usually wore to hide the glow must’ve come undone.
“What kind of freak are you?” Eli said.
I glared at him, ignoring the sting of his words. “At least I’m not the freak dreaming about dead girls.”
He gaped. “How do you know that?”
Uh … More embarrassed than any one person should ever have to be, I decided it was time to make a break for it. I could hear loud footsteps outside his door and knew I had about two seconds to escape. His dad was a cop; I was certain he would shoot me first and regret later.
I ran to the open window. Rule number two in dream-feeding: always have an escape route. I climbed over the edge, grabbed hold of the ivy-covered drainpipe, and slid down as quickly as I dared. Thank goodness for all those gymnastic lessons when I was younger. Normally, I would’ve used a glider spell to get down, but with my magic misfiring, I couldn’t risk it.
As my feet touched the ground, I looked up to see Eli staring down at me, mouth open. I stuck my tongue out at him. Then I turned and sprinted up the sidewalk.
A few minutes later, I slowed to an easier pace. I had a few blocks to go until I reached McCloud Park, where I’d stowed my bicycle in some bushes. Would’ve been nice to have a car or motorcycle for these late-night dream-feeding adventures—hell, I wouldn’t have turned down a moped—but my chances of getting any kind of motorized vehicle were slim to zero. Arkwell was a boarding school with a strict no-student-vehicles policy.
I spotted my bicycle sitting between some bushes where I’d left it and dropped down to a walk. If Eli or his dad hadn’t caught up to me by now, they probably weren’t going to.
Should’ve known better than to trust my luck.
An enormous black sedan rounded the corner into the parking lot, and I froze as the beam of headlights struck me. It came to a stop, and all the doors opened in unison. Four hairy-looking men in matching gray suits stepped out.
Four werewolves, to be precise. Local law enforcement for magickind.
Copyright © 2013 by Mindee Arnett
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
That's it. Read the book to find out. Its definately worth the small amount of money, if you like unscary supernatural books.
Good book that reminds me a mix of........Monster High (a school with wizards, faeries, sirens, etc) and Harry Potter (how they take classes to learn spells and history while having students who are half or 'ordinary'/ kids who dont have magical powers, legacy families and their influence on their magical community ) and the adventure how the main character and her friends are trying to find out the killer of the murders at school, kind of that adventure you get from Harry Potter. Def. recommend this book if you want that kind of mystery and adventure!. Did not know this is a trilogy, cant wait for more! :)
Loved it!!!!!!!! My parents got me the Nightmare Delema and I finally found this one!!!!!!!!!!
I am really behind in my ARC book reading and I'm working my way, somewhat randomly, through a backlist of books sent to me, this being one of those books. The story takes place at Arkwell Academy - a school for 'magickind' and ... well, let's stop right there. Yes - the comparison to a famous boy wizard with a lightning scar on his forehead will be made. And should be made! The differences, however, are enough to not confuse anyone. One of the biggest differences being that the characters are not just young wizards and witches in training but all sorts of magically inclined kids. Here, we focus on Dusty Everhart - a Nightmare ... literally. Dusty is sent to invade the dream of one of the hottest guys in school (Eli), which is pretty embarrassing for the sixteen year old. But at the same time, sitting on his chest and slipping in to his dream is sort of (embarrassingly) arousing. But it's much more embarrassing when he suddenly wakes up and sends her dream powers back onto her. That's not supposed to happen. Ever. But that's only the beginning. When the dream that Dusty saw in Eli's head start coming true, there's a deadly mystery happening on Arkwell's campus and Dusty and Eli can't help but get caught up in it. The opening sequence of this book, establishing Dusty, Eli, and Dusty's abilities was tremendous. I was hooked and really looked forward to the rest of the book. I could see where teen readers (especially teen girls) would be really drawn to this book based in large part on this opening chapter. But given this opening, the rest of the book was just a tad of a let-down. The moments when Dusty's or Eli's magic abilities played a key role, were interesting and often gripping. But the rest of the mystery, around which this story is built, was boring. I liked Duty and Eli and I even liked Dusty's Nightmare of a mother (literally), but I never quite bought in to what they were tracking down and why it mattered. There was something missing to let this reader buy in to the mystery. Overall, this was interesting enough that I'd like to read the other books in the series, but not so compelling that I'm rushing out to get any of the next books. Looking for a good book? The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett is a teen/YA mystery capitalizing on the magic school theme and offers some fun, interesting characters but lacks a bit in the mystery. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
I love this book! I greatly recommend that u guys should all read it
If you like Harry Potter you will love this book/series. Not just wizards & witches bit other magic people too. Enjoy this new twist on defeating the dark powers of magic. Loved this.
really good book
A wonderful read. It takes supernatural YA stories out of the norm with a really great twist.
I really loved The Nightmare Affair. This is a very unique and new topic of Nightmares and I think it was very well done. I loved all of the characters and I especially loved Eli's character. The plot of the story was very good and I liked that there were so many twists and turns. I hate when you can solve mysteries before the end and I didn't figure out the bad guy until the characters did, so it was great and well planned. I absolutely loved the cover. It played a very key role on why I decided to request this novel. Overall very well done book and I highly suggest everyone check it out.
The Nightmare Affair made me smile all the way through this fantastic novel. Mindee Arnett didn't hold back on the fun with these wonderful characters, or the intriguing, mysterious supernatural storyline. I fell in love with the main character Destiny (Dusty) Everhart, who is a Nancy Drew mystery solver of the supernatural kind. Dusty is head strong and a little klutzy with a quick, sassy mouth always ready with a sarcastic remark. And I also love her for not taking crap from the other snotty upper class Magickind. Arnett as a writer has awesome writing talent for humor and wonderful characters. She sucked me into this suspense mystery of who did it, and a swoony romance. I’m so looking forward to the sequel! Dusty is a dream-walker. She’s the one who feeds off your dreams and gives you scary nightmares. And she just started school for the Magickind at Arkwell Academy after she came into her dream-walking power. Dusty has enough problems in her sixteen year old life, and they just got bigger after she dream-walks into Eli Booker's dream and sees Rosemary (a girl from school) dead. Now the Magickind council is saying Dusty also has the dream seer power and it only works with the gorgeous hottie human Eli who is to be her partner, after his dreams are the only ones she can feed on to try to find the killer. Dusty’s best friend Selene, who's a tough-girl tomboy, is rebelling against her beautiful, alluring siren’s life. Dusty and Selene are great together as best friends, but add hottie Eli and, oh yeah, one more gorgeous guy Paul, and you got one heck of a lot of fun with teenagers trying to solve this mystery and some great romances. The Nightmare Affair is a hilariously fun mystery with teenagers who can solve crime with supernatural magic powers and have a gushing romance on the side. I highly recommend The Nightmare Affair as must read! My Favorite Quotes: "I must say, Dusty, one of these days your tongue is going to dig its way right into your grave," said Marrow. I sighed. " I know. I don't mean to. My mouth just works independent of my brain sometimes." I'd been sitting here trying to visualize myself a Veronica Mars, all smart and badass. But in reality, I felt more like Inspector Gadget with my go-go button stuck in neutral. "I think it's time for you to go." He drummed his fingers on the table, a scowl on his face. "Why? You afraid your date is going to see us and get mad or something?" "No, but your is." Eli looked over his shoulder. "Crap." "Geez," I said, looking back at Selene. "Is being at the top of the social food chain like a universal birthright or something?" She grimaced. "I think there's a national registry. It's online at eatcrap-dotcom." Okay, so mouthing off to the sheriff wasn't my smartest decision of the night, but I couldn't help it. Smartassitis might not be a clinically defined disease, but it should be. Paul came over and gave Eli a hard look before fixing his gaze on me. "Are you all right? I was worried when I couldn't find you. Let me help." He reached for my arm. Eli pushed him off. "I've got her. Paul glowered, his hands curling into fists, but before he could do anything, Marrow and Brackenberry came over to us.
I have a certain fascination with mythical creatures, re-tellings and unique plot lines. 'The Nightmare Affair' was a book that met all of the above. There has been an influx of the same, familiar mythical creatures in many of the books I have read and it was nice to read one that I had never imagined being in existence. Imagine knowing that you had to sit on the chest of your crush and suck his dreams from him, turning something sweet and innocent into something nasty and horrible - and very awkward. Especially if he knows you're there. Dusty was a Nightmare who faced that very situation and her 'victim' was Eli, the crush she'd had at her previous school. Dusty was a likable character. She was down-to-earth, friendly and courageous when she needed to be. She didn't have a hero-complex and knew how to work in a team. She wasn't a success at everything and she had her faults. She reminded me of a teenager, albeit one with rather unique abilities. Her relationships with people seemed to work, although I would have preferred a closer mother/daughter bond. I know the reason why they couldn't have one though - it wouldn't haven't worked for the plot. Eli was rather special to me too. He was resentful that he had been drawn into a situation that he never signed up for, but I liked that. I liked that he didn't immediately accept what had happened to him. He was a steadying influence, and despite his attraction to another girl, he was always there when he needed to be. He was a normal character in a mystical world. Dusty's world was compelling and exciting, with that undertone of realism. It's based in a school, but I honestly think that for this novel to work it had to be. I really loved that there was a mixture of mythical creatures there. And the legend that unfolded the further I read on was fantastic. If it hadn't been for a v-log review I'd seen on this book I wouldn't have realized it was there until I'd read it. It's an action-packed fantasy complete with a murder mystery. If you're a lover of both these genres then it really is the best of both worlds. I also enjoyed the character voices, writing and the flow of the book. It was a book that I couldn't put down and I went through wide range of emotions while I was reading it. I loved books that can do that to me. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the above - a paranormal book that has a lot of murder mystery action. Book review by Sandy at Magical Manuscripts
I absolutely loved this book. It is one of the funnest books I have read lately. Destiny "Dusty" Everhart is 16 years old and she is a Nightmare, well half Nightmare and half human. Nightmares are magical people who feed on others dreams. Actually they feed on the fictus - the things dreams are made of. Her mom Moira was a Nightmare and her dad was human. After her powers appeared, she began attending Arkwell Academy, a school for the magickind. There are all sorts of magickind at Arkwell - sirens, werewolves, demons, witches, warlocks, etc. All the magickind are controlled by "The Will," a spell that has been set in place for a long, long time that keeps them from using their magic to harm others and to have them do what is required/expected of them. One night as Dusty was going to dream-feed, led my "The Will," she just happened to climb in the window of a boy from her old school, Eli Booker. Eli Booker is the hottest of all hotties from Dusty's old school, with the whole bad boy vibe and everything going on. When Dusty dream feeds, she sits across the chest of the person she is feeding from, puts her fingers on their forehead, and enters their dream with them. Needless to say, Eli's hottie status had her a little "anxious" though she wasn't sure if her heart palpitations were coming from fear or something else, as she sat across his chest. One important rule that must be followed when Nightmares dream-feed is that they must not touch or be touched in the dream by the person whose dream they have entered. It immediately kicks them out of the dream and the person wakes up. As I said above, this was one of the funnest books I have read in quite a while. I was sucked into the story from the very beginning and completely absorbed in it until the end. I loved the plot, which was original, entertaining and creative. I especially loved the characters. Dusty was a hoot. She is funny, sarcastic, very strong-willed, and very stubborn. I loved Eli to, he is definitely a hottie and I loved seeing the way his and Dusty's relationship grew from hate, to friends, to more, and how protective he was of her. The secondary characters were just as entertaining, and there were quite a few, all of which were well written and fun to get to know. The Nightmare Affair has magic, mystery, conspiracy, danger, fun, and romance. This combination sets the stage for an entertaining and captivating read, which I thoroughly enjoyed and would definitely recommend.
Thanks Tor Teen for providing me with this ARC in exchange for a honest review. I wanted so badly to love The Nightmare Affair. A pretty and unique cover – paired with a synopsis boasting mystery, humor and romance – how could I not be intrigued. Unfortunately The Nightmare Affair‘s outer appearance turned out to be deceiving. Yes, there was mystery, humor and romance, but these elements correspondingly felt flat, overdone and non-existent. I knew this book would be supernatural through-and-through with the setting taking place at a school for magic-folk. In the beginning I welcomed this new world. I was excited to see Arnett’s take on what it seems to be a pretty popular YA setting these days. You’re given a lot of world building info in the beginning, which I found hard to digest. There was just too much too soon. Werewolves, hags, dreamseerers and moody electronics, are but the tip of iceberg when it comes to The Nightmare Affair‘s world. Every time a new concept was introduced or revelation produced, my memory struggled even more to keep up. Although it takes place in the real world with “ordinary” folk, The Nightmare Affair pushes into the high-fantasy category by integrating so many new magical concepts, places and events. This world was too complicated for me to keep up with, especially with the constant flow of new info. I enjoyed Dusty’s witty sarcasm, but that’s about it. She had a very contradicting personality that I found grating. Both Dusty and her mother are nightmares – a rare, powerful and despised race. Dusty’s mother is practically famous for her reputation of out-of-control, dangerous and rule breaking stunts. Most, if not all students and adults are afraid of and loathe Dusty’s mother. Dusty was very fickle when it came to her mom. Sometimes she hated her mother’s reputation, other times, she used it to her own advantage. I personally never formed an opinion of Dusty’s mom, because she never stuck around long enough for one to get a feel. The same can be said of the rest of the characters. Their appearances were flighty. The Nightmare Affair is very much a murder mystery, having started with the mysterious death of a popular and pretty girl. Very cliched, I know. Dusty’s Nancy Drew habits could have turned this book towards the road to awesome, unfortunately a lot came over to blatantly obvious. Everyone appeared too suspicious. There wasn’t any “out of left field” surprises. The big reveal came and went with little to no exclamation from me. To be quite honest, I don’t believe I would purchase the second book in this series. It wasn’t really the firework I was looking for. I would however contemplate borrowing or checking it out of the library just to curb what’s left of my curiosity.
I was really happy to read The Nightmare Affair because the idea of boarding schools, murder and paranormal entities gets me excited. I sort of figured that this would be a cross between The Raven Boys and Harry Potter and for the most part, it was. But while Arkwell Academy is like Hogwarts for all manner of paranormal beings, the book lacked that certain mystical aura that Rowling and Stiefvater both managed to create in their series. It's not to say I didn't get a kick out of the book, because I did, I guess I was just hoping for something with a little more oomph. What I liked most about this book was the overall concept and the fact that Arnett was not afraid to go to a darker place with it. The murders were gruesome (to a point) and the action was weirdly suspensful. Arnett manages to blend reality and magic in a fairly seamless way so that the reader is able to get a clear vision of world she's created. She takes liberties in using just about every mythical creature you could want or need, from sirens to witches to fairies and oracles. She even took a gamble in making nightmares a magical being--- one that paid off. Her world-building is a lot of fun, especially the part where inanimate objects take on a life of their own and develop their own interesting personalities. But where I think the world-building excelled, there were some parts about how the magic worked in this world that could've been a bit more clear. I think my biggest issue with the book, though, was that the big twist at the end could have been stronger. It was frustrating because Dusty didn't pick up on all the obvious hints throughout and by the end, I was a little let down. It's disappointing when you guess who the bad guy is and, in this case, what type of creature they are before the intended reveal. Overall, I really did think The Nightmare Affair was an enjoyable albeit predictable book with a solid plot and some serious series potential.
Dusty Everhart is half human and half magickind, more specifically, she is half Nightmare. She feeds on nightmares in order to survive. Other than that she is your typical 16-year old girl with school work and a crush on Eli Booker who ends up being her next nightmare to feed on. But, Eli’s nightmares of murder start to come true. Even worse, he is dreaming of Arkwell, a place for magickind, and a place Eli should not know about. Now Dusty must figure out how to help solve the mystery, help Eli without giving away who she is and hopefully get the boy. The book is face-paced, original and fun! The author has a great voice that holds humor and a wonderful cadence and imagination. This is a young adult novel, but no doubt adults will enjoy this book as well. The author herself has a website that shows off her imagination and sense of humor as well.