Release Date: March 5th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult-Paranormal
Description 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.
I have noticed, for the most part, that when a blogger says a book is "fun," i.e., "this book didn't have a lot of depth but it was fun," that's code word for it was meh. At least most of the time. But when I say it here, I actually mean it. The Nightmare Affair WAS fun. The story was fairly formulaic, but I appreciated the unique usage of a very famous legend. I enjoyed the mythology and there were some world-building elements I truly enjoyed. If you are a casual reader reading the book purely for story/plot, I think The Nightmare Affair will be one you most likely will love. Someone like me looks at all the mechanics of a book though, and that's where the flaws lie. I'll get to those shortly, but I can be objective enough to separate my thoughts from the way others are probably going to feel. That's why, before I get into this review any more deeply, I want to say that I DO recommend this book for the casual reader. I thought it was AWESOME for that purpose.
I know I didn't need to include that GIF but I kind of wanted to because I have had it forever and I WANTED to use its so badly!
So, back to the book.
Most of my issues were with the writing. When I started reading this book, I was actually worried I was going to have to DNF it. But I stuck it out and it did get better. That said, there was SO MUCH telling in this book. Almost zero instances of imagery. Poor character development which makes sense since the author was telling me everything about the characters rather than showing me. I didn't believe in the chemistry between Paul and Dusty because the author didn't show me it existed. The writing was bare bones: vague, lacking in detail, and just very meh.
The characters grew on me a little by the end, but still, most of them felt very flat to me. Eli, Paul, Mr. Morrow, Selene, Moira...ALL FLAT. I like my characters with personality and I just was not able to become attached to these people because of the poor writing.
I did like the way the story wrapped up. The climax and fight scene kept me incredibly engaged and flipping those pages. I thought it was written well and paced correctly. That was one area of the book where I thought the writing worked.
For as creepy as the setting should have been, it was not creepy at all. But that was because the appropriate amount of detail and atmosphere was not added. I don't know if the author actually writes like this or because the editor made an executive decision that it needed to be simpler, but either way, it was a poor decision. I almost felt as if this book gave off a middle grade vibe, but then I hate to insult middle grade books because most of them have more depth than this. Ouch, I know.
Also, you'll find a couple of the typical YA tropes here: love triangle, instalove, shallow mean girl with no depth, the quirky best friend who wasn't all the quirky, etc. Not to mention there were several interesting parallels between this book and Harry Potter. Clearly the author is a fan. Not that that's a bad thing but this almost bordered on a bit too much.
I could complain for a while about this book. But I clearly didn't hate it as I rated it 3 stars. Which brings me back to the first paragraph. Sometimes I wish I still read as a casual reader, because if I did, 5 stars all the way. If I just read for fun and not to critique, this book would have been magic for me. But it wasn't. But the story is a great ride, so if you are looking for a lighthearted paranormal read, I think I could recommend this to you.