Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Me on The Nightmare Affair

Title: The Nightmare Affair
Author: Mindee Arnett
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. 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.

The Nightmare Affair is dark, filled with secrets, spells, and hidden agendas. Dusty is the unlikeliest detective, searching the shadows for clues to a murder at her boarding school for magical teens, but she must be careful. Someone has plans rather sinister plans, and would hate for Dusty to ruin them.

Dusty is stuck in her mother's shadow, looked down on because of both her mother's less than savoury exploits and her own Nightmare abilities. Because she is feared, looked down on, avoided, shunned, her personality has its rough edges. She's very much her own person, there's little to no filter between her thoughts and her brain so she certainly has a way of cutting the tension in the room with a bit of snark. And she frequently denies that she's like her mother, when there certainly are some similarities between the two of them.

Her relationship, for lack of a better work, with Eli is intriguing. The connection between the two of them came about by circumstances neither of them had any control over. I liked that their relationship was often rocky, often filled with conflict, both between the two and between Dusty and her thoughts. They weren't forced to become friends, they weren't even told to become friends, and I liked that. It meant they had to work towards discovering the truth and stopping the killer while working through some apathy and animosity. It didn't feel easy, and it shouldn't have. If it wasn't difficult for them to search and solve the mystery, I would've been disappointed.

In a school like Arkwell, a boarding school for witches, wizards, and other magical beings, there are bound to be more than a few secrets circling the grounds. There was such a variety of paranormal creatures, plus there was the keeping them all in one place boarding school aspect, which meant there was a fair amount of teenage hormones and attitude roaming the halls. Having both sides, the dark murder mystery side and the teen angst side, brought on that hint of realism.

At times Dusty reminded me of a paranormal Nancy Drew with an extra trick or two up her sleeve. She was willing to search and get a bit dirty, willing to ask questions in order to get answers, but she had no idea what she'd stumbled into, how dangerous it would get. What kept me reading was Dusty, the self-acknowledged smartass, and the ways her curious and snarky personality got all mixed up and in all the secrets going around, the mystery behind the sudden murders. An entertaining start to a mysterious paranormal trilogy, I just hope the second book will be more of the same.

(I borrowed a copy of this title from the library.)


  1. I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a lot of fun but also didn't take itself too seriously. Can't wait to read book #2

  2. Oooh, good to hear the relationships between the characters are interesting; I find that it's pretty key to making a story feel authentic. And I'm always glad to read that the protagonist is fun. I've been really looking forward to reading this title, so I'm glad you enjoyed it, Lindsay!