The hilariously frightening, middle-grade novel Nightmares! is the first book in a trilogy about a boy named Charlie and a group of kids who must face their fears to save their town.
There's an old, creepy house up on the hill that's sat vacant for years... until one day twelve year old Charlie Laird spots a woman moving in. He offers to help her move her items in and while they're moving items around, Charlie's father arrives and introduces himself to the "new in town" woman, Charlotte. Ten months later, Charlie has a new stepmom, a new address courtesy of the creepy mansion on the hill, and a raging blend of insomnia and nightmare-ridden sleep. These nightmares involve a witch threatening to hurt Charlie and / or his family. During his waking hours, Charlie is convinced the witch is actually his new stepmom, Charlotte (who runs an herbal apothecary shop in town). But what if he's mistaken? What if Charlotte knows what or who is really threatening Charlie, and what if she actually has the answers to save him?
I went into this thinking it would just be a cute, mildly creepy middle-grade horror book but there is SO much more to this story. Even as an adult reader, I found this story hitting some deep and heavy topics. Not only does it talk about facing fears and phobias, but Charlie and his friends also learn how to address bullying, finding inner strength, and not being afraid to ask for help when you need it. All things that kids and adults alike can benefit from! Charlie also has to work through the death of a parent from a terminal illness. Crazy hard for anyone, but a twelve year old... can't blame him for all his pain and fears manifesting into wicked disturbing dreams!
The pace of the story is very quick and fun, with some great laugh out loud lines. I especially liked "the rest of us need you to have a nap too" X-D. I would recommend this for anyone looking for stories dealing with topics such as facing fears, conquering bullies, finding inner strength, working through the death of a loved one. Also, this story would be perfect for adult fans of films such as Coraline, Labyrinth or yes, I'd even say Fight Club!
Nightmares! is the first in what is planned to be a trilogy. The sequel to this book, Nightmares!: The Sleepwalker Tonic is due to be released this September.