Review: The Nightmare Affair

Author: Mindee Arnett
Series: The Arkwell Acadey #1
Publication Date: March 5, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 352 (eARC)
Source: eARC for blog tour
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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This book is truly an adorable gem. If you're look for a paranormal private investigators type book for a young adult audience, this would be your pick in a heartbeat. Keep in mind it is not for little kids because there are some sexual innuendos. I mean, Dusty has to kneel on a guys chest to feed of of his dreams! Even she refers to the positioning as awkwardly kinky!

I don't know about you guys, but I love magical schools. The Arkwell Academy is ranked up there with Hex Hall if you ask me, though neither can compare to the illustrious Hogwarts. Magical schools create this competition among creatures that's fascinating. A good prank war like what goes on between Dusty and Lance is awesome reading material and horrible charms being thrown about in the hallways of a school housing classes that give you tests by making you float apples into trash cans is pretty awesome. I mean, anyone who denies that is just crazy pants. Arkwell Academy delivers on all fronts with the addition of some never before seen magickind concepts and an awesome mystery.

Arnett's debut paints a vivid world for magickind whose kids attend Arkwell Academy to keep them separate from the ordinaries. Under the rule of the Magi Senate, all of magickind are controlled by The Will. This is an invisible magical force that propels teens to do things that are necessary to their survival, but also stops them from maiming one another using magic spells. So, while The Will forces Dusty to feed off of Eli's dreams on a night that will forever change their lives, it only stops her from using magic every now and then. Nightmares tend to find ways around The Will because their power comes from dreaming and imagination. While all the faeries, demons, werewolves, hags, wizards, sirens, and everyone else suffer from The Will's control, Dusty slowly learns that she can get around it. Nightmares are rare nowadays and the book only speaks of three in existence. Dusty and her mother--who is known for bending the rules--and Bethany who can only be compared to a gorilla that has a human shape. They must go into people's dreams at night and observe alongside them to gain energy. While there is no shortage of paranormal creatures in this one, I thought that the creation of the Nightmare creature was totally awesome.

However, it gets even better. When Dusty witnesses a murder while inside Eli's dream that comes true mere hours later, they realize that they are a dream-seer pair. While Eli dreams, Dusty sees them and analyzes them. Eli the ordinary who is obsessed with private investigating because his Dad is the head of the police force is the shipped off to Arkwell Academy to work with Dusty to uncover the murderer before it's too late. Initially resistive, they eventually become friends and with the help of Paul, Dusty's crush, and Selene, her siren best friend that is so totally against a siren's beauty making them a sex object, they take us on a journey of a life time.

I really enjoyed Selene and Dusty's relationship, just as much as I enjoyed Eli and Dusty's relationship. Selene is almost like a siren feminist which I found to be incredibly entertaining. As roommates they immediately hit it off despite the rest of Arkwell hating on Dusty because her species is so rare, feared, and misunderstood. Selene is always there for her, never batting an eye. Through Selene, we get to see the true realities of high school. There's always that one friend that is going to be there for you no matter what while the evil popular crowd tries to take you down. All of the intricate relationships, both good and bad, formed among peers and faculties and high schools were somehow exemplified in this book. It was a refreshing touch to read a book that somewhat understood the reality of teenagers these days.

But I did have on problem with this book, and that would be the big reveal. I don't really know how to describe it. As determined early on in the story, there are several people involved in this murder spree. The person involved that shocked Dusty the most was very obvious to me from about half way through the book. It's one of those cases that involved said individual always being at the scene of the crime when there was no reason and you can't help but go, "yeah, that's not right." But the other half of the reveal completely blew me away because it was so unexpected. While I guessed one person in the scheme of things and than could infer some things once others were revealed during the final showdown, the drive behind such decisions and desires were not foreshadowed at all, and that is something that slightly made up for the anti-climactic reveal of the first betrayal.

All in all, this was a great debut. A quick, humorous read good for young adults that like paranormal mysteries, I recommend this to nearly everyone. Arnett is an upcoming force to be reckoned with on the young adult paranormal mystery front.

4 stars



  1. Awesome review! I'm glad you really liked this book! I love academy type books too. I totally need to get around to reading this one soon!!

  2. I've been keeping tabs on this book ever since I saw that beautiful cover. I'm so happy that people are enjoying it!

  3. I really enjoyed the prank wars between Dusty and Lance, too! I have a feeling a true friendship is going to bloom between them! Great review.


  4. I looooved this one. I know that the mystery was a bit cheesy, and a lot of the red herrings were obvious, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. I love the idea of the Nightmare creatures, and the fact that literally every magical being you can think of is part of the book. I really was not expecting this to be as entertaining as it was. I thought it might be a bit darker, but I was pleasantly surprised by the humor in it.

    Also, I love the cover so I can't wait to get my own finished copy!

  5. Just read this a few weeks ago and I felt the same way about the boarding school aspect. And YES nothing will compare to Hogwarts but I did feel a few Harry Potter vibes while reading! :)

    Selene was one of my favorite characters! She is so strong and independent and level-headed, she is an awesome best friend to have!

  6. I’m glad you liked this, Lili! I agree that it maybe wasn’t the most surprising thing when it comes right down to it, and maybe it could have been a bit more serious in spots. But overall this book was fun and light and very entertaining.

  7. For some reason, I thought this book was a sequel when I first heard about it. It's good to know this is the first book in the series :) It sounds great, and I love the idea for it. Awesome review!

  8. Never heard of this one, but I love the cover.