Middle Grade Review: Nightbooks

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Genres: Middle Grade, Horror, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 2-3?
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

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.

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.

1001 Nights mixed with Hansel and Gretel, all wrapped in a modern, creepy package. Kids are going to love it! I think?

I’ll start by saying that horror and scary stories are … not my thing. I don’t like to be scared, nor to I particularly care to be creeped out. I didn’t really like that stuff when I was a kid either. But I didn’t find this book to be even the smallest bit scary. Unless you think that story where the woman has a ribbon tied around her neck to keep her head from falling off is scary. Which I never did. So I have *no idea* whether kids are going to find it frightening or not, so I can’t speak to whether it was successful on that front.

Otherwise the book worked. It was a really cool concept that played off familiar fairy tales but made them feel fresh. I loved the friendship themes, and the friendships the characters formed felt genuine and true. I thought Alex was a pretty compelling character. And I did NOT see the plot twist at the end coming, and it’s pretty dang hard to trick me.

I also liked how short scary stories are included throughout the book as part of the plot. I found those more interesting than the overall narrative, honestly, and it’s a cool literary device I think kids will enjoy. They might even be inspired to try writing their own scary stories after they see how to do it!

Definitely recommend for kids into scary stories if it’s as scary/creepy as everyone else is saying. Maybe not for kids who have watched The Exorcist and are now immune to “baby” stuff.

4 thoughts on “Middle Grade Review: Nightbooks

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