Nightbooks by J.A. White – Book Review

I am SO looking forward to the Netflix adaptation of this book! It’s obvious that I loved it, and how could I not? It’s the perfect mix of spooky and whimsical, and there’s a witch! A witch who is named Natacha and lures twelve-year-old Alex Mosher, the protagonist, into her magical apartment, where he must keep writing scary stories if he values his life. But neither Natacha nor the apartment’s spying cat are enough to stop him from trying to find a way out.

Alex is different. His dark, twisted (but not too gruesome) imagination sets him apart from other kids, and he wishes it didn’t. That’s why he finally sets out to destroy his “nightbooks,” the notebooks that contain his scary stories. Unfortunately, a little detour leads him to becoming trapped in one. He meets another prisoner, Yasmin, who takes some time to open up. The friendship that develops between them is rather sweet and complementary. Yasmin is more cautious than Alex, but she helps him as he helps her. Their banter is also cute. Banter is always a plus in my book.

Lenore, the cat, has a personality of her own. As interesting as I think Alex is, Lenore has to be my favorite character. Alex seems to know what she’s saying judging by the looks she gives him. She can turn invisible, so she’s almost always watching the kids’ every move and has the surly attitude to boot. She’s not all bad, though. She’s really just doing her job.

Natacha is also a good character. Well, not exactly “good” since she’s the wicked witch, but there’s more behind her cruelty and the ending is a bit of a twist. Personally, I loved how the book ended and couldn’t think of anything more fitting. My favorite part? Alex’s stories. If this kid were a real person and became an author, he would’ve made an unstoppable force of childhood terror with Stephen Gammell. Some would say the stories were more suspenseful than scary, but that’s the best kind of horror, in my opinion.

It may not be the scariest children’s book, but Nightbooks is an enjoyable read nonetheless. As a reader in her late twenties, middle-grade novels hold a special place on my bookshelf, but this one in particular can appeal to all ages. Underneath the flashy magic and creepy themes, it’s about friendship and confronting the fears that hold you back from being you, things that many will find relatable in a bewitching tale.


5 full moons out of 5

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