Published: March 5th 2013 by Tor Books
Format: Hardcover, 367 pages
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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.
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 didn’t know what to expect from The Nightmare Affair. I love Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers and was kind of hoping for a similarly dark and mysterious story featuring a Nightmare who isn’t like Sabine. However, this book is more … frivolous that I’d hoped, and I ended up disappointed.
On reflection, I feel like the book is intended to be a lighter paranormal – I’m reminded of Paranormalcy and Hex Hall. I don’t do too well with lighter books, but I’d liked Paranormalcy (before Evie got very annoying) and enjoyed the Hex Hall books. The Nightmare Affair has all the flippancy of the former books without any of the charm. It’s just another story about a self-centered teen protagonist who can’t get her head out of her butt long enough to think anything through.
There was very little holding me to the story: the characters are rehashing of tired old stereotypes, and the plot pathetically predictable. The mythology was interesting, especially the splitting of supernatural creatures into three main types (or kinds).
My favourite thing about the book is Dusty’s best friend, Selene – a siren who speaks out against the objectification of sirens and isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. However, Dusty has a horrible habit of dismissing her friend’s arguments or belittling them (never to her face, but there’s this feeling of patronising indulgence none-the-less).
The romance between Dusty and Paul is unfathomable, especially given that it’s so blatantly obvious he’s up to no good. I despaired of the petty jealousy between Dusty, Paul, Katarina and Eli as well – it brought nothing interesting to the story and only served to irritate me further. One of the things that always annoyed me about Dusty is that she pretends to be a much smarter, accepting person that she actually is. She pretends to take the high road when others are being mean to her, only to turn around and extract a petty revenge that only prolongs the cycle. She keeps saying she accidentally turned Katarina into a snake that one time, but she’s so smug that I had a hard time believing it.
I’m sure there are many readers who have enjoyed The Nightmare Affair, but unfortunately, I am not one of them. It’s meant to be a lighter, humorous paranormal read, but it failed to excite or interest me in any way. If you try it, I hope you like it a lot more!