THE NIGHTMARE DILEMMA
Arkwell Academy #2
Paranormal Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The second in a thrilling new fantastical mystery series
Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn’t make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty’s as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that’s easier asked than done. Eli’s dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies.
To make matters worse, Dusty’s ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty’s heart.
As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they’re connected to something bigger. And there’s something very wrong with Eli’s dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.
The Nightmare Dilemma is a solid, entertaining sequel to The Nightmare Affair, beautifully avoiding some of the pitfalls so common in second books of a series and taking us on a complete journey with Dusty instead of leaving us on the final page but only mid-story overall. The synopsis is a bit misleading in a way that doesn’t do this book justice, giving readers the idea that we’ll have to deal with a love triangle when Dusty’s ex-boyfriend reenters the picture to give Eli a run for his money, but thankfully once we crack the spine we find no triangle in sight. Dusty’s ex does make a return appearance, however, Dusty’s history with him is a complicated one and she’s in no hurry to replace her anger with any type of rekindled romantic feelings, her every action in this story making us want to open our arms wide and simply hug her.
Dusty’s snark and quick wit were highlights of the first book, but we find a bit more subdued version of her in this second installment, and though she’s still a joy of a heroine, we can’t help but miss her smart mouth just a touch. That infinitesimal niggle aside, Dusty remains someone extraordinarily easy to root for, never once slipping into the tendencies that seem to plague young adult heroines in sequels by thankfully limiting herself to a romance with just one boy rather than waffling between two, and that relationship is in fact a non-relationship for majority of the book. There’s a great deal of tension and unspoken attraction between Dusty and Eli, but it’s more a friendship that has the potential to be something special if both they and the world they live in will let it.
Dusty’s inability to keep a secret is another aspect of her character that has us falling a little more in love with her in this tale, her openness with both best friend Selene and Eli something that brings a huge smile to our faces. She doesn’t always open up to one or both of them immediately, but never does more than a day go by before she’s filling them in on what’s going on with Arkwell's latest mysteries. She’s perhaps not as quick to share personal feelings with Eli as we might like, however it’s all too easy to remember being her age and the sometimes paralyzing fear of rejection that comes with a friendship on the precipice of something both scarier and more exciting. Her tongue doesn’t stay frozen forever though, and we can’t help but want to applaud when the questions that have been tormenting all of us finally burst forth.
As with the first installment, we’re given a complete story in The Nightmare Dilemma, bits and pieces from book one beautifully continued and expanded in this second book, linked together but separate enough that the mystery elements could stand alone should a reader pick the series up out of order. There is a hugely significant revelation toward the end that will inevitably play a big role for Dusty and Eli moving forward, but we're left at the final page with this book’s big puzzle solved and a triumphant grin on our faces, ready for what awaits our dream-seeing pair in the next installment.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.