Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

19 February, 2013 Reviews 13 comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee ArnettThe Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
Series: The Arkwell Academy #1
Published by Tor Teen on March 5th 2013
Pages: 352
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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 think I attended a magical school in a past life. Whenever I read about them it feels like I’ve basically come home again. It’s either that or they always remind me slightly of Hogwarts, but come on guys, what’s more likely? (Wizards are real, they’re just really good at hiding)

I love the rivalries, the feeling that anyone can jinx you in the halls and the potential for wonderfully hilarious pranks. I love the things that are normal to the main character but are thrillingly weird. Like, “don’t stick your hand in the garbage can because a troll might just bite off your finger”, and “suits of armor guard our dormitories at night so be nice to them when you pass by”.

The magical school in the Nightmare Affair was excellent, especially because the magical world Arnett had envisioned was so full to the brim with every kind of creature. I loved the concept of the three main kinds of species: witchkind, whose magic is self fueled, naturekind, who get their power from the elements and finally darkkind, who get their power from other living beings. Arkwell school basically contained everything. Witches, sirens, hags, faeries, oracles, not to mention a new addition to my list of awesome magical creatures (I don’t actually have a list, a fact that makes me slightly disappointed in myself): Nightmares.

But while the book certainly was well rounded in terms of world, there were still a few issues I had with it.

The Characters:

I loved Dusty’s friendship with Selene as well as the arc of her relationship with Eli. I also really enjoyed the characters we weren’t supposed to, like Katarina and Lance. The only problem was I never felt like we saw enough of who they were for them to be the interesting, dynamic characters they had the potential to be. I was especially interested in Selene’s issues with Lance and the way she was constantly protesting the objectification of sirens, but I felt like both these things were only hinted at, rather than explored. Maybe Arnett is saving their stories for the sequel?

The Big Reveal:

Half of it was something I entirely didn’t anticipate, and it was thrilling. The other half was something that was hinted at so many times I was waiting from about a quarter in for Dusty to finally realize what seemed so obvious. The real reward was seeing all the pieces fit together, but it could have been much stronger had some aspects of it not been so easy to figure out.


These flaws weren’t monumental, and were even easier to overlook because there was always so much going on. This seems like a solid beginning to the series, and seeing as I’m such a sucker for magical schools, I know that I’ll be up for reading the next.

Adrienne Fray

Adrienne Fray

Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
Born and raised in the middle of a desolate expanse of prairie land, Adrienne has learnt quickly that there are only two options for a happy survival: read constantly, or become very, very bored. Find her on GoodReads.

13 Responses to “Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett”

  1. BooksofAmber

    Honestly, I very much doubt these magic boarding schools would remind you of Hogwarts. It’s more likely that you went to one in a past life, I agree. Or maybe you attended one in a Matrix-type universe? Food for thought.
    I looooove books about boarding schools, especially magical/paranormal ones. I’m really looking forward to reading this at some point this week. It’s a shame about the predictable part of it though. Whatever, I’m excited!

  2. Kay

    A very interesting sounding read indeed. I will have to add this to my TBR pile. Thanks for introducing this to me!

  3. booksandwine

    True life wizards are real and I believe they suck at hiding as well!
    As a fellow sucker for magical schools, I will have to add The Nightmare Affair to my tbr.

  4. booksandwine

    True life wizards are real and I believe they suck at hiding as well!
    As a fellow sucker for magical schools, I will have to add The Nightmare Affair to my tbr.

  5. Kara_M

    I’m excited about this book and I am reading it next. It’s been getting some pretty decent reviews and I consider anything over 3 stars to be decent, so…I hope i like it! It sounds awesome!

  6. Kate C.

    Perhaps you meant alternative universe, as I’m unaware of any magical schools in the past.  🙂
    Man alive, I love magical schools in books.  I love the fraternity of them, the closeness, the quirky teachers, etc.  My heart is so sad that Hogwarts will never be a place I can actually go.  (Except in my mind, of course.)  The best thing about Harry Potter is that it doesn’t matter what your age is, you find yourself wanting to be school age again.  I mean, I didn’t read Harry Potter until I was in college, but if someone had come up to me at 22 and said, “Hey, I’ll send you to this magical school, but you’ll have to be 9 again,” I would have said, “YES, YES, YES!!!”
    This book sounds interesting.  I freaking love the cover, too.

  7. Syed Fahim

    All I want is some quality reading for my weekend and this stupid internet is dragging me from one page to another…. HELP

  8. alexalovesbooks

    I’m reading this one soon, and it still sounds pretty adorable. I love the fact that it’s a magical school, but I’m not too hot about the fact that the characters don’t sound particularly memorable. We shall see 😉

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