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. Quoted from Goodreads
Like is says in the summary, Dusty is a Nightmare, a creature who feeds on dreams. There's a lot of different ways to slant this. Rachel Vincent went for a little bit darker take in her Soul Screamers series. Mindee Arnett, on the other hand, plays it to full comedic effect. Sure, there's the whole clues to a murder mystery hidden inside Eli's dreams thing, but there's also the awkwardness of sneaking into a cute boy's room at night to feed off his dreams. In fact, the whole situation is rather hilarious.
Dusty is a fun, strong character with a distinctive, witty voice that I really enjoyed. I also quite liked Eli, the other half of Dusty's dream-seer team. Sure, he follows the standard YA trope by being gorgeous, popular, but secretly really sweet, and his girlfriend just doesn't get him, etc. Still, I really did enjoy his interactions with Dusty. After waking up to find her sitting on his chest in the middle of the night and the resulting chaos, he has every right to be a bit disturbed and hostile towards her.
I also adored the whole idea behind this world. I liked how Dusty had to search out the murderer both in Eli's dreams and in real life. The whole dream-seer team, and I found this to be a wonderful interpretation of the Nightmare mythology. I also enjoyed how it played out in Dusty's magic. The whole thing was really creative.
Unfortunately, there were also a lot of things in this story that reminded me of other books. This is one of the few books I really do want to compare, world-building-wise, to Harry Potter, but it's also pretty reminiscent of the Hex Hall series. Sure, they're both great books, so the comparison isn't bad, but the world itself isn't memorable because of it. The mystery was also a little bit weak. I liked the visions twist, but I wish there had been more of a sense of urgency or pertinence to Dusty in particular.
Still, like I said before, it's a really fun, fairly quick, read, one that made me wish I had read it sooner. I'm awarding it a solid 3.5 stars, and I will absolutely be reading the next one.