Author: Mindee Arnett
Genre: Young-Adult, Paranormal
Series: The Arkwell Academy #1
Hardcover, 367 pages
Publication: March 5, 2013 by TOR Teen
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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.
Dusty Everhart is a Nightmare, a Magickind and in order to replenish her magic/powers she has to feed off of people’s dreams (and the best way to ‘feed’ is by sitting on the chest of the victim, which is as weird as it sounds lol). On one of her regular feeding trips she goes into the dream of Eli Booker, one of the hottest guys that go to her old high school. His dream is unlike any other dream she’d ever encounter, his was vivid and colorful versus the dull black and white one she been in…and he’s dreaming of a murder at her current school which should be impossible. Dusty is currently attending Arkwell Academy, a school for the Magickind (Fairies, mermaids, siren, demons etc) and there’s no way he’s been there because it’s for magical folks and he’s an ordinary human. Before Dusty can analyze more of the dream, Eli grabs Dusty and boots her from the dream. She tries to spell him to escape but everything she throws at Eli gets cancelled out. Things go from bad to worse when she arrives back at Arkwell to discover Eli’s dream has just came true. A murderer is on the loose, and the magis (top Magickind leaders) want Dusty to find the clues to who the killer is by using her Nightmare skills. There is a catch though, she’s only allowed to ‘feed’ off of Eli because it turns out she’s a dream-seer (someone who can see what will happen in the future) and it will only work when she’s with Eli.
When I first heard about this book, I knew I was going to like it from its cute cover to the intriguing synopsis about a girl who is the epitome of Nightmare (at least to what we think we know). This book is a mash up all things paranormal with a hint of Nancy Drew, Mean Girls, and Harry Potter. Many people probably think The Nightmare Affair is just another paranormal boarding school novel but it isn’t. Most of the paranormal beings aren’t the typical vampires or werewolves seen in most YA today but focus on other lesser known paras such as Sirens, Demons, fairies, wizards all with their own uniqueness and of course Nightmares. Although Nightmares are rare, and there is only three (including Dusty) within the whole area or even state (but you have to read the book to find out why!). The paranormal mystery in the story was interesting, it always kept me guessing who the killer was, and the overall characters were all well fleshed out, I enjoy every single character…even the snotty Lance and Katarina.
I love Dusty from the start, she’s really down to earth, a typical 16-year old, smart, and doesn’t care what people think of her. Dusty never fitted in when she arrived at Arkwell a couple months ago, she’s the only Nightmare at school and her mother is an infamous rebel known to always bend/break The Will (which is a magic spell/rule that makes sure all Magickind don’t harm one another). Dusty is constantly picked on by the popular kids (Lance and Katarina) but it never fazes her, she isn’t afraid to talk back and or retaliate against them. Then there's Dusty’s mom Moira and best friend Selene who are also great secondary characters. Moira isn’t your typical mother, she’s kind of out there and even though some of her parental teachings are questionable, she loves dusty very much.Talking of Dusty's mom, she was another plus for the story because not only is Dusty’s mom around keeping tabs on her but for once the MC has both parents for that matter! I don’t know if you guys noticed but a lot of MC in YA have no parents because they died, not even there, or gosh know what...I find that annoying and repetitive since it’s in every other YA out there. Then we have Selene who is a siren, she’s a loyal and caring friend and doesn’t let her good siren looks get to her head like others (*cough*Katarina).
Another thing I enjoyed about The Nightmare Affair was that the author incorporated Arthurian myth/legends into the story which I found fun because not many books have done that in a YA novel (at least none that I’ve read), and I just recently watched 4 season of the TV show Merlin so reading about Arthur and Merlin made me giddy :D. There is also a love triangle in the book, and while I’m not a fan of love triangles this one didn’t bother me so much because I already knew who she’d pick in the end. Yes, it was slightly predictable but it didn’t make the story any less fun. I love this book a lot, and it exceeded my expectations. The Nightmare Affair is full of awesome characters, fascinating world building, and a killer fun mystery that had me guessing till the end. The end is left open to build on in the next book but not like a cliff hanger thankfully. I can’t wait to read more about Dusty and her friends in the next book, The Nightmare Dilemma which comes out in 2014! I highly recommend this to everyone, who I think will like a light-fun paranormal mystery.