Initially, the reader is introduced to Dusty, a Nightmare who’s sneaking into some hot boy’s room to feed off of his dreams. Except things don’t go according to plan, because the boy—Eli—wakes up, and because of certain circumstances, he now has to transfer to Dusty’s magic school and work with her to apprehend a murderer. Together with a couple of other friends, Dusty and Eli uncover some cover-ups, and Arnett throws in a really cool twist on the Merlin/Excalibur legend. Then the mystery wraps itself up rather cheesily, and all is well again in Dusty’s world.
The best I can describe The Nightmare Affair is as a book similar to Paranormalcy as far as seriousness and depth go, but with a sort of Inception-esque element thrown in. Basically, if Kiersten White had written a book version of Inception, I think this is what we would have gotten—or something close. Upbeat, likable, and fluffy are three words that capture this book in a nutshell.
I did enjoy Dusty’s narration. I think she was a fun, realistic girl stuck in a paranormal world, making the best of what she had. Was she fully fleshed-out? No. But that’s okay, in the long run—Arnett definitely shows herself to be a plot-driven author over a character-driven one. There’s nothing wrong with either, but as a reader who enjoys characterization and development more than any other aspect of a novel, I probably would have enjoyed seeing all of the characters (not just Dusty), more well-rounded.
The plot was also good. I did feel that the conclusion to the mystery was a little obvious and juvenile, but it did work well for the book itself. And room was definitely left open for the sequel, as well as a stronger connection between Dusty and Eli.
Overall, The Nightmare Affair was a fun and fluffy read that didn’t require too much effort to enjoy. Readers looking for depth should steer clear of this, but if you want some light entertainment, this is probably a good place to look.