THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR
By Mindee Arnett
YA contemporary fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Dusty has nearly reconciled herself to needing to attend Arkwell Academy, a private school for creatures closer to her nature than normal people, but as a Nightmare whose talents increase just as murder takes place on campus, she would really rather have been human.
Dusty, as a Nightmare, has to feed off the dreams of others. Crawling on top of them while they sleep to enter their dreams, she gets her energy as the daughter of one of the strongest Nightmares around, her estranged mother. But this time, she's entering the dreams of Eli, a very cute normal guy who she went to school with before her powers kicked in. The dream is located at the cemetery, and there's a body. It's another student.
And, for the first time, the dreamer knows she's there. Dusty is able to make a getaway, but not before Eli wakes up to find her on top of him.
It turns out they're a fated pair, and Dusty and Eli are maneuvered into trying to find out more about the student's murder. The victim was supposed to be part of a protection against a force that threatens the existence of all the creatures at Arkwell Academy.
The set-up is a combination of mystery sleuthing as Dusty, Eli and Dusty's best friend and roomie, a siren, hunt for clues, and a romance as Dusty and Eli get tingly around each other. If only Eli wasn't so infuriating and if only another boy wasn't so nice to Dusty all the time. And there's Dusty's issues with her mother, who got away with everything while Dusty cannot sneeze without getting in trouble.
But then Arnett's over-use of mythology kicks in. It's not enough to have Nightmares (succubi, basically), sirens, demons, vampires and werewolves. We also get Merlin and Excaliber. But not Arthur. And sudden violence that feels out of place.
It's a mindless enough entertainment if fluff is the goal. For older teens and up.
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