Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Nightmares Nightmares!
by Jason Segel And Kirsten Miller

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

I really am in two minds about this book. On the one hand it is a well-written clever story, with a very positive message for kids about overcoming their fears. On the other, it never really grabbed me, never succeeded in fully taking me into its world… perhaps it’s something to do with not having suffered greatly from nightmares myself. For me, unlike the authors, there is no clear dichotomy between nightmares and dreams, one can easily shift from one to the other, and a dream may have nightmarish elements without being a nightmare. And that might be one reason why I had trouble relating to this story. Another is that I’ve never liked horror stories, and I’m not sure that I’d have wanted to read this book when I was a kid.

It’s the story of a young boy named Charlie, his brother Jack and his friends. Charlie’s mother is dead, and his father has remarried to Charlotte, one of Charlie’s mother’s best friends. Charlie believes the stepmonster to be a witch and both hates and fears her. His fears lend him the ability to open the portal in the house of her ancestors and enter the world of nightmares in bodily form. His friends are drawn in through their own nightmares, and the authors pick up on typical childhood fears – of mockery, of authority figures and of the dark, and show how they might be defeated.

Now, I know that some people will buy this book simply because it has Jason Segel on the cover, but honestly read it yourself before giving it to the kids, because it really will be too scary for some more sensitive souls. It helps that there is a comic side to the novel, and that it doesn’t take itself absolutely seriously. There is mention of a sequel, although how they plan to make a series of this, I just don’t know.

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