Goodreads: The Nightmare Affair
Series: Arkwell Academy #1
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart is a Nightmare, meaning that she has the unenviable need to break into people’s homes and feed on their dreams to survive. Then Dusty breaks into Eli Booker’s room and everything changes. Eli is dreaming of a murder at Dusty’s magical boarding school Arkwell Academy–a school he has never even heard of–and then the murder actually takes place. Only by stepping into Eli’s dreams can Dusty find the murderer and stop the next killing.
I don’t typically read paranormal romances, but this one seemed different from the others, both because the protagonist is a Nightmare who feeds on people’s dreams and because the protagonist is the one with powers, rather than the one falling for an attractive, brooding vampire. Or whatever happens in paranormal romance. However, though I enjoyed the magical boarding school setting, The Nightmare Affair proved less original than I had hoped.
The cover bears recommendations raving about the unpredictability of the plot, but I knew who the criminals were almost as soon as they were introduced. I also knew the outcome of the (apparently required) love triangle. I even knew how the final battle would end, thanks to the plethora of similarities between this book and Harry Potter. This is a shame because I enjoyed the book when I wasn’t sighing over the use of all the old plot devices.
Dusty is an engaging narrator with a bit of sass that is often actually funny, such as when she pokes fun at the cultural trend of making vampires romantic instead of dangerous. Furthermore, she resides at quite an interesting school, peopled with sirens and minotaurs and all kinds of creatures familiar to fantasy. Her desire to fit in, her encounters with bullies, and her troubled relationship with her mother all make her relatable, despite her Nightmare status. These elements, if combined with a more original plot, would have made a most excellent boarding school mystery.
As it is, I liked The Nightmare Affair--I simply felt it could have been much better. Cut out the love triangle, don’t try to force a romance with a character who had little development, and remove the elements of Harry Potter, and you might have a great story.