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Book Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Mindee Arnett’s The Nightmare Affair is everything I love about YA fantasy. It’s got witty banter, awesome magical abilities and tingly romance.

*I use Grammarly for proofreading because the difference between “Let’s eat Grandma” and “Let’s eat, Grandma” saves a life.

Book Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

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the nightmare affair mindee arnett

Title & Author: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Genre: Young Adult Fiction – Fantasy, Magic

Release Date: March 5, 2013

Series: The Arkwell Academy #1

Publisher: Tor Teen

How I Got the Book: Bought


“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.”

Solid World-Building

Amazon recommended The Nightmare Affair to me. So helpful, that Amazon Recommends tool. Most of the time I give it the ole squint eye, but this time it really paid off.

I was immediately intrigued – a girl breaking into a hot guy’s bedroom will do that. Plus, the fantasy and world-building were awesome.

Dusty is the said criminal breaking and entering, but she can’t help it – she’s a Nightmare. That means she needs to feed off dreams because that’s what her dream-shaping powers come from. She attends a high school with other magickind, and her life gets way more uncomfortable after her recent break-in.

The magical high school is awesome. In Vampire Academy, for example, I felt like the school was in the background. It didn’t really matter where the action was taking place because that was the focus, not the location. Although Arkwell Academy isn’t a focal point of The Nightmare Affair, it definitely has its purpose and place in the story. It reminded me of Hogwarts in a way, but not to the same extent that the castle seemed alive.

Plus, it houses quirky students and teachers and helps readers understand the magical world Arnett created.

Then there’s the hierarchy of magic. There’s definitely the magical elite (the jocks of the supernatural world), and how that all works together will definitely be touched on in later books. A brief taste is given in The Nightmare Affair, and it was just enough to whet my appetite for more.

Dialogue Done Right

Dusty is a spitfire. She’s got some super snark, which gets her in trouble ALL THE TIME. The banter with her best friend and classmates is priceless and – thankfully – cheese free.

This is strange to comment on, but the awkwardness between Dusty and Eli (boy whose bedroom she broke into) is perfect. It felt so real that I cringed during most of their encounters.

There’s so much more to be discovered about Dusty and Eli’s connection and about Dusty’s abilities. I love that there’s so much to expect from the next books. It makes me feel confident the sophomore slump won’t happen and that there’s plenty of substance for the future.

You may not believe this, but Dusty’s mom makes an appearance in the books, and not only is that refreshing as a novelty to YA but because it reminded me a lot of Emily and Lorelai Gilmore. The relationship that is begrudging and filled with past wrongs.

I simply could not put this book down. It pulled and pushed, and I read it so very quickly.


This story is fantastic overall. The world-building was strong and interesting, and he romance was sweet and awkward. I’m so excited to read more from this series! Mindee Arnett has set the bar high with
The Nightmare Affair – I highly anticipate the sequel.

*Disclaimer: I was compensated by Grammarly to add this statement.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.