Author: Dan Poblocki. Release date: 2010. Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780375842566.
Review: This truly frightening tale from Dan Poblocki is full of twists, turns, mystery and, above all, scares that will delight brave tween readers. Almost from the first pages of the novel, the reader develops a sense of dread at the horrifying images that seem to be haunting the characters. At the center of the waking nightmares is a mysterious man in an overcoat and hat. Timothy begins to experience these terrors as well, and is determined to fight them, with the help of his new friend Abigail. As the primary protagonists, Timothy and Abigail are very likeable. Timothy is kind to the new girl who everyone else makes fun of, and is also brave in his resolve to overcome whatever is cursing him and his friends. The story contains many different plot lines that converge in the nail-biting finale. Overall, The Nightmarys is an entertaining and terrifying adventure that tweens are sure to enjoy.
Reading level: Grades 6-10
Similar titles: The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki, The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn.
Personal thoughts: If I’m being completely honest, this book terrified me. As I was reading it, I kept having to remind myself that it is a young adult novel, and therefore not “worthy” of making my eyes dart around and covering my head with the blanket at night. I admire Poblocki’s ability to create a sense of absolute horror with no gore or violence. The idea of the waking nightmare is quite scary, and I would only recommend this book to brave readers. Younger tweens are likely to have nightmares themselves after reading this story. I know I did.
Themes: Nightmares, curses, mystery, horror.
Awards/Reviews: Positive review from School Library Journal and Booklist.
Series Information: N/A
Timothy July – Seventh-grader who has been experiencing terrifying nightmares ever since his brother was wounded while serving in Iraq. After meeting Abigail, his nightmares start to continue during the day, and he discovers a curse has been place upon them causing their fears to come to life.
Abigail – Seventh-grader, who is a quiet loner and recently moved from New Jersey after her parents split up. Timothy unwittingly volunteers to be her partner for a school fieldtrip and she learns that he has been experiencing waking nightmares just as she has. She and Timothy must discover the source of the curse that is causing them to be plagued by terror.
Stuart Chen – Timothy’s best friend. He is very cynical, and is mad at Timothy and Abigail when they are partnered for the school field trip. He also is plagued by waking nightmares and almost drowns as a result.
Zilpha Kindred – Abigail’s grandmother. She has a connection to the mysterious curse, but Abigail and Timothy are not sure what it is.
Mr. Crane – Timothy and Abigail’s science teacher. He also becomes plagued by waking nightmares.
Annotation: What would you do if your worst fears and the things from your nightmares haunted you during the day? Timothy and Abigail must find a way to put an end to the curse that is causing them to be plagued by terror even when they’re awake.