05 October, 2021

[Review] Nightbooks by J.A. White


Cover image from the goodreads website.

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: 24 June, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Genre: Middle Grade/Horror/Fantasy
ISBN: 978062560094
Edition: Paperback (also available in Hardback, eBook, and Audiobook)
Rating:★★★★☆ (4.25)
Review Written: 19 August, 2021
Warnings: Animal cruelty, Body horror, Bullying, Child abuse, Death, Domestic abuse, Emotional abuse, Physical abuse, Slavery, Kidnapping, Fire/Fire injury
A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It's a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.

Alex's original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he'll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He's loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don't have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he's desperate for a different ending--and a way out of this twisted place.

This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer's block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.

See more by J.A. White on his website.I'll admit that I'm not personally a horror fan. Scary stories have to be read strictly during the day, if I want to watch a ghost hunting show, the sun must be out. Still, this book caught me with the description. And for the most part it was a cute middle-grade version of Scheherazade.

Alex writes scary stories, they've always been his favorite thing. But because of reasons not revealed until later in the book, he decides he needs to burn his stories to try to become 'normal'. Unfortunately for Alex, he get lured into another apartment in his complex by the sound of his favorite scary movie playing on the television. From there, things go downhill very quickly. Natacha the witch has decided he will be her own personal storyteller, demanding that he write out a new scary story every day or he'll have outlived his usefulness and she'd be forced to dispose of him.

So Alex writes... or he tries to write. Writing's hard when you get writer's block when you should be trying to write to save your life. Deciding he needs some extra boosts, Alex requests to be allowed to read some of the books in the witch's library (where he's conveniently set up to write) for inspiration. In truth, he's looking for ways to escape. The book provides some nice surprises towards the end of the book, and children who love scary stories will love this book.

I did knock off a few points because the pace was extremely slow to me. Parts of the story dragged while others rushed. All in all, this book will be among the ones I offer up to my young horror enthusiast at work.

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