Series: The Arkwell Academy, #1
Release Date: March 5th, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 3 stars
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.For a book that initially sounded so original, I hate to say that I found The Nightmare Affair to be helplessly average. Enjoyable? Yes--hence my three star rating. I did have fun reading The Nightmare Affair, and, overall, I did enjoy it, but as a whole I found it to be an ultimately familiar read.
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 paranormal lore aspect to The Nightmare Affair is for the most part fresh, bringing new and fun ideas to the table, and the world-building is somewhat thorough and interesting, albeit not entirely original. Similarly to most readers, the thing that stood out most about The Nightmare Affair for me was the concept of Nightmares as a paranormal creature, and I'm glad to say that, with that concept, Mindee Arnett has created a fun and fantastical boarding school and murder mystery story.
However, the resemblance of The Nightmare Affair to other popular young adult reads is practically glaring--most notably its resemblance to Harry Potter. Let me just point out that I'm not that type of reader who brings every book with a magical boarding school right back to Harry Potter, and I might have been picking at straws concerning similarities between the two in The Nightmare Affair, but some things were far to similar for me to pass up. [For example, they call non-magical beings in Harry Potter muggles, and in The Nightmare Affair, they call non-magical beings mules. This is one of the similarities I admit I may have been picking at straws with, but the entire thing just felt off with me--of all the things you can possibly call non-magical beings as a derogatory term, one would think authors would avoid using any words starting with 'm' and 'u.' As well as that, there is a Halloween (Samhain) chapter with a dining hall that is quite similar to the Great Hall in Harry Potter, with some particular happenings in that chapter that are in a way reminiscent of the chapter in Harry Potter. (hide spoiler)]
Similarities to other popular works aside, The Nightmare Affair is lacking in quite a few aspects--most considerably the murder mystery and the characterization, or lack thereof. Upon finishing The Nightmare Affair, I'm left with an unfortunately vague sense as to what the characters were like, as we're not given much development and characterization in the novel. The main character, Dusty, was overall likable and witty, but by the end of the novel I just don't feel like I truly knew anything about her other than the basics, which were told to us. As well as that, the murder mystery in The Nightmare Affair is almost painfully predictable, and even though I had a fun time going through the murder mystery even knowing the outcome, a less glaringly obvious outcome would have been beneficent to my enjoyment in the story.
However, despite those above qualms, I'd recommend The Nightmare Affair to anyone looking for a quick and fun paranormal romance and mystery with refreshing new lore and witty dialogue and characters. Though I do fully acknowledge its faults, I had an incredibly fun time reading The Nightmare Affair, but in the end it lacked the amount of depth necessary for it to be a memorable read.
THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR Trailer