THE NIGHTMARE THIEF, by Nicole Lesperance, Sourcebooks Young Readers, Jan. 12, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-14)
A girl faces unexpected consequences after mishandling dreams in The Nightmare Thief.
Maren Partridge loves working in her family’s dream shop where she can hand-craft any dream imaginable. The shop has only one rule. Dreams cannot be given to a person without their consent. Maren has no problem with this―until her sister, Hallie, has an accident that leaves her in a coma. Maren’s certain she can cure Hallie with a few well-chosen dreams. And when no one is watching, she slips her a flying dream.
But a strange new customer from the shop has been following Maren and knows what she did. Now she’s laid the perfect trap to blackmail Maren into creating custom nightmares for a dark and terrible purpose. As Maren gets drawn further into the sinister scheme, she must make a choice: to protect her family or to protect the town from her family’s magic. —Synopsis provided by Sourcebooks Young Readers
The Nightmare Thief is the first book in a planned duology from Nicole Lesperance. The book starts out with sweet, gentle tones but morphs into a forceful read with horror elements that may be too intense for some of younger readers. Vivid nightmares and real dangers make this one of the more hair-raising adventures I’ve come across for middle readers.
At the heart of The Nightmare Thief is Maren, a likeable character who starts out fairly unremarkable but builds into a memorable lead. The book would not be what it is without the supporting cast of Maren’s grandmother, friend Amos and a French-speaking parrot. But it’s the dark Ms. Malo who really amps up the creep factor.
The author’s adept prose creates an ominous undertone felt throughout The Nightmare Thief. And yet, Lesperance balances that with just enough light to give the reader a break. The Nightmare Thief starts out a little slow, but gives readers a strong enough hook that most will stick with it. I suggest it for more mature middle readers, ages 10 and up.
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