THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR
Arkwell Academy #1
Paranormal Young Adult
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.
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.
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.
The Nightmare Affair is a joy to read from first page to last, a rather unique paranormal entity combining with magic, mayhem and murder to ensure we while away the wee hours of the morning in a desperate attempt to devour Dusty’s story in one sitting. While a boarding school housing young men and women with extraordinary abilities is certainly nothing new, Ms. Arnett twists and molds the familiar into an entirely different shape with the introduction of Dusty as an actual Nightmare–someone who gets her sustenance from the dreams of others–and we can’t help but flip the pages as quickly as possible to learn everything there is to know about the ins and outs of dream invasion.
Dusty is a spectacularly entertaining protagonist, her sharp tongue eliciting a snort from us every time she puts it to use, and because she wields her wit and snark expertly, she never comes across as whiny or annoying. She remains firmly planted on the amusing side of the sarcasm line, making us laugh with her even as we highlight her responses and one-liners for future personal use. She also has admirable sense of self-preservation (something that causes us to rejoice), often finding herself in trouble but always reaching out to others for assistance instead of clutching her dangerous responsibility close to her chest and going it alone.
The romantic tension between Dusty and non-magical Eli is thick and palpable throughout, and Ms. Arnett proves again and again she is gifted at creating intimate moments without so much as the briefest of touches. Their relationship is not the typical new-hot-boy-at-school scenario despite its initial appearance as such, and we easily get sucked into their antagonism as they both struggle with the circumstances that require their close proximity, smiling hugely as things slowly change for them even as they both find themselves with other people. Theirs is a connection full of promise in this first book, declarations of love blissfully absent as a weighted friendship and a unique bond take their place, and we must resist the urge to fall to our knees and kiss Ms. Arnett's feet for the gift she’s given us in Eli and Dusty.
The only small flaw in an otherwise outstanding story is the predictability of certain players in the murder plot–a couple of them either easily recognizable or easily discarded from the onset–but others are a surprise, and we continually battle with ourselves throughout as we wonder whether or not certain people can be trusted. We’re left with a fully concluded story by the end of this first installment, a larger story arc in place but the smaller mystery solved in its entirety before we close the back cover, satisfying our need for the how’s and why’s of it all even as we look forward to seeing what’s in store for Dusty next.
*For those of you in the Columbus/Dayton/Cincinnati (OH) area, Mindee is celebrating the release of The Nightmare Affair tonight (3/5) at 7pm EST at Books & Co in Dayton. Details can be found here!