Review: THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR (Arkwell Academy #1)

Review: THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR (Arkwell Academy #1)
The Nightmare Affair
Arkwell Academy #1

Written by: Mindee Arnett
Published by: Tor Teen
Release date: March 5th, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 367
Source: ARC from ALAMW 2013
Format: select
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
Also by this author: Avalon

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.

My Thoughts

I’ve been trying to write this review for a while, because I’m so torn about this book and I’m not sure exactly how to explain my feelings. I wanted to love it. It sounds fantastic, and that cover is gorgeous, and I love everything about the premise.

But I can’t shake the feeling of disappointment I felt when I finished it.

The  Nightmare Affair is actually a really fun read, and it’s pretty cute. Which confuses me, because I love cute, light stories (see: my review of Poison by Bridget Zinn). But this one just didn’t work for me.

I felt like none of the characters were given much depth/substance – what you see is what you get, except for the ones with capital-S-Secrets (which makes sense, since they’re the ones actually hiding things). All the characters had moments where they were melodramatic and stilted, and their attitudes didn’t strike me as realistic very often – especially Dusty’s mom. Dusty herself is feisty, witty, and a lot of fun… But that’s pretty much it. I didn’t find her terribly interesting, other than being entertaining. Which is unfortunate, since she’s a flippin NIGHTMARE – that should have worked!

The only word I can think of to describe a lot of the characters and situations and general feel of the book is, ‘cartoonish’. Which didn’t work for me.

As I said, the book is definitely cute and fun. But for some reason, when the characters are all one-dimensional, the “lightness” everywhere else just ended up feeling silly. For example, I could have done without the “animation” thing – that any inanimate object, when around magic too long, ends up developing a personality of sorts. Yeah, it’s cute, but I just couldn’t get into it. I felt like it was a detail that was just there, and didn’t add any substance to the story other than allow characters to be annoyed by the “animated” objects sometimes.

Finally, there’s the issues I had with the pacing and plot. The book starts off pretty well, and I think the first half was paced just fine. But eventually Dusty and her friends start trying to solve what’s going on, and this should have been the point where things started to pick up… But that’s where they got boring for me, for some reason. I’m not sure exactly why, but second half of the book dragged a lot. And then finally, when I was hoping for some redemption at the end with a really good reveal… that fell flat, as well. It felt like there was too much going on, and instead of a satisfying ending, the surprise was generated by confusion and way too many twists.

I understand why a lot of people liked this book more than me – it is fun and light, and it’s set at a boarding school full of fairytale creatures! …But I was expecting more, and it didn’t deliver.

A (grudging) 3 stars.

5 thoughts on “Review: THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR (Arkwell Academy #1)

  1. I gave this one 3 stars as well, though I think that might have been a little bit too high in retrospect. As you said, the characters felt pretty shallow and underdeveloped, and the plot didn’t exactly work out so well. Good idea, but less than perfect execution.

  2. I’m sad to see that you were disappointed, because the plots sounds awesome and the cover really is beautiful! We’ll see, maybe I’ll give this a shot anyway, but I don’t like being disappointed by books!

    • I know!! The cover initially drew me in, and the description sounded awesome, so I was super excited as well. But it really didn’t come through for me – I was just expecting a more than a light/quirky read, something with some depth. I hope you like it if you read it, though! Maybe going into it knowing what to expect, it’ll be more enjoyable. :)

  3. Dang – as I was reading the summary of this book, I was thinking, “I *really* hope she likes this one!”. It sounded so interesting and ticked a lot of my fun, light read checkboxes (paranormal, boarding school, mystery, cute boy…). Bummer to know it didn’t entirely live up.

    That said, I will prob add this to the TBR anyway; sounds like it might be exactly the right thing to read during a brain break.

    As a side note, I really enjoyed Poison also!

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