Sweet Nightmare (The Calder Academy, #1)

Sweet Nightmare (The Calder Academy, #1)
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Release Date
May 07, 2024
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The scariest school on earth
Is about to experience real fear…

Most schools are about being the best. This school? It’s about being the worst. Calder Academy is where the rogue paranormals go. The ones who break the rules or lose control. And when that happens for vamps, werewolves, witches, and dark fae? It gets pretty freaking scary.

I should know. Because I’m trapped here.

Look, every seventeen-year-old girl thinks their mom is a tyrant. But mine just happens to run Calder Academy, which paints a giant target on my back. The way I make it through these dark halls is by steering clear of the things―and kids―who go bump in the night.

Especially Jude Abernathy-Lee.

But when a freak storm hits our isolated island, I'm stuck without a backup plan. The power is gone. The lights are out. And our worst nightmares are suddenly real―and out for blood.
Now the only way to survive is to align myself with one evil to avoid the other.

And the only thing worse than the idea of getting close to Jude? Secretly loving every minute of it.

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1 review
consuming and thrilling fantasy read
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SWEET NIGHTMARE is an intriguing spin-off of the CRAVE series. The story follows Clementine, a manticore who has never been able to experience her powers due to the fact that she has always lived on the island of Calder Academy. Calder is a place where magical beings come when they are young and have made some serious mistakes, such as killing people. On the island, their powers are magically suppressed, which seems to result in perils when they leave and their powers all come flooding back dangerously.

While Clementine is aware of all the problems, she feels powerless to change anything, even though her mother is the headmistress of Calder, and her family runs the place. She was basically born into this prison. Luckily, she has some great friends - and Jude, an enemy that used to be one of her BFFs and a crush until the night when her cousin was sent to prison and he began completely ignoring her. When they are paired up for an assignment after she is attacked by some of the menagerie she takes care of as a punishment, Clementine thinks that is the worst that could happen - until a terrible storm rolls in and it seems that the worst is yet to come.

What I loved: This was an action-packed read with some mysteries that kept the plot moving at a fast pace. Things just seem to keep going from bad to worse, and Clementine must figure out some hidden truths to understand what is going on and how she and her friends can survive. At the same time, there is a strong romance kindling with her maybe-enemy that grows as she begins to understand more about him and their past.

I found the mysteries quite compelling. Although Clementine has spent her whole life at Calder Academy, her knowledge has been severely limited by her mother and the rest of her family. As the story continues, their grip on her will loosen, and she begins to realize more than she ever expected about who she is, what she can do, and the dark and dangerous secrets held by the academy. Her character growth in the story is by leaps and bounds, questioning the things she knows and the people around her.

As a warning, there is character death in the story that is quite emotional, and it adds to the darker feel of the story as Clementine and her friends face these trials. The story takes on a thriller feel with the danger lurking at every turn from nature, the secrets kept, and other students. The ending has a bit of a cliffhanger that will make this a tough wait for the sequel.

Clementine's perspective gives enough world-building that it was easy to understand and follow along. The reader learns some things along with her as the story continues. Although this is a spinoff of CRAVE, it does work well as a stand-alone. Clementine was quite compelling, and I appreciated her perspectives and growth as the story continues. Jude was also intriguing, and the reader learns much more about him as the story goes on. My favorite character was Izzy though - she is quite crafty, sneaky, full of snark, and clearly has a lot of secrets we have yet to learn. I hope we'll see even more of her in future books.

Final verdict: Overall, SWEET NIGHTMARE was an action-packed and fast-paced thriller/fantasy read that is sure to keep readers on their toes. Be prepared for lots of twists, surprises, and a tough wait for the sequel!
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