The Nightmare Affair, by Mindee Arnett

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Publication date – Mar 5, 2013

Summary: (Taken 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.


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.

Thoughts: The first book is Mindee Arnett’s Arkwell Academy series, The Nightmare Affair tells the story of Dusty, a literal Nightmare who sneaks into houses and invades the minds of the sleeping in order to feed on the substance of dreams themselves. Dusty attends Arkwell Academy, a school for magic and supernatural creatures; hence the name of the series.

True to YA convention, Dusty ends up feeding on the dreams of the very attractive Eli, and through his dreams she witnesses a murder. Forced together by circumstance and made to repeat the procedure in order to uncover more about the murder, Eli enters the world of the dark and unseen, and Dusty enters the frustrating world of attraction and annoyance with Eli while trying to maintain professional distance.

The idea of a school for the supernatural is far from original, but Arnett manages to pull it off fairly well. There are a good number of clichés littering the novel, though; it’s far from perfect. The adult staff of the school seem, more often than not, caricatures rather than well-developed characters, people who were a quirk instead of just having quirks. While this allowed for some good comedic scenes, it felt very much as though some characters only existed for said comedic scenes, and that was a serious weakness.

Love polygons existed here too. Not content with just a couple, or a love triangle, there are in fact two love triangles going on within the book’s pages. I couldn’t really connect with either of them, to be perfectly honest, but I know that’s more of a personal thing than a reflection on the relationships themselves.

Most of the novel moves relatively slowly, albeit heavy with suspense and the gradual revelation of bits and pieces of the murder mystery, with only brief sections of action. The last quarter of the book has a much quicker pace, is full of swift-moving action and tension. Thus I can say that the pacing was uneven, but not to a greatly detrimental effect. If you’re reading this novel in a few sittings, it probably won’t make that much difference. If, however, you spread the reading out over time, you’re likely to feel that the early sections are somewhat ponderous.

Ultimately, The Nightmare Affair was a decent piece of fluff, creative and interesting but without much beneath the surface. It doesn’t stand out too much from the majority of YA supernatural mysteries, either positively or negatively, though I will say that it wins points for not having insta-love and actually having Dusty and Eli be really awkward toward each other due to the positions they find themselves in. Nothing particularly ground-breaking, but good for light reading.

(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)

One comment on “The Nightmare Affair, by Mindee Arnett

  1. Pingback: November in Retrospect | Bibliotropic

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