Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Nightmare Affair (Arkwell Academy #1)

The Nightmare Affair (Arkwell Academy #1)
Mindee Arnett
TOR Teen, 2013
$17.99, Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy
Age: 13+
Description: Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart has it rough. She attends Arkwell Academy, which is a private boarding school for magical and supernatural beings. Unfortunately for her she happens to be a Nightmare and the daughter of the most infamous student ever to attend—her mother. She also happens to be shunned by most students because she is a Halfling—her dad was a human. As a Nightmare she is required to enter people’s bedrooms at night and enter their dreams. In doing so she receives a kind of spiritual nourishment that she needs to survive. One night she enters the room of someone she wishes she’d never seen again—Eli—a boy from her old, normal high school whom she didn’t get along with well. When she enters his dreams and sees a girl get murdered and Eli actually acknowledges her presence and kicks her out of his head, she realizes something has gone horribly wrong. But she’s not going to get rid of Eli so quickly as he has been enrolled as the first human at Arkwell Academy because he and Dusty has a very rare connection between Nightmare and Dreamer—while in his dreams she can see prophetic visions. Now Dusty is being forced to team up with Eli in order to stop a cruel murderer before he kills again.
Opinion: When I first saw this book a while ago I loved the cover but I wasn’t too enthralled by the description. It sounded like another paranormal romance. However, when my group of teens received this as an ARC for our YA Galley Project I decided to give it a read because, knowing my teens, the book would be a hit among them. I was pleasantly surprised. While there will be conclusions drawn that it is similar to Harry Potter (a magic boarding school), it is anything but. Arnett creates an interesting world that Dusty herself is new to and poor Eli gets thrust into. All of the characters are well drawn and likeable (or despicable if they are a baddie).  There are also unique twists of magical characters. Dusty is a Nightmare and the negative stereotype of her kind (which is rare now) is that of the evil succubae and incubi. Her best friend, Selene, is a siren who is sick and tired of the stereotypes that sexualize them and show them getting everything they want so she rebels against the objectification and tries to be tomboyish and not use her powers. There are plot twists galore that will keep readers guessing till the very end. While this first book doesn’t end on a huge cliffhanger it will be interesting to see more adventures of Dusty in the future.
Here’s what one of my teens had to say:
Emily, 14, says, “Dusty goes to a school for supernatural children. She is a Nightmare—in order to survive she needs to ‘feed’ on the stuff dreams are made of which requires her to sneak into houses and sit on people to enter their dreams. However, her world is turned upside down when she enters the dreams of Eli and witnesses the murder of a fellow student. Turns out Dusty and Eli are one of those really rare pairings that can possibly see into the future in dreams. With her not-so-powerful powers (she’s still learning!) and her friends she is recruited by the school to attempt to solve the murder and stop evil from taking over. I liked the color and the font on the cover. The cover had various elements that appear in the book, such as Dusty in the graveyard where her whole life turns upside down and the mysterious phoenix. The most compelling aspect of the book was how the author combined folklore and mystery together for a unique plot. Please tell me this is the beginning of a new series! It ended wrapped up nicely but I want Dusty’s adventures to continue!”

*Thanks to Juliet Pederson-Klug at TOR Teen for providing an ARC of this title for the YA Galley Group project!*

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