Ever since he moved into his step mother’s creepy, purple mansion, eleven-year-old Charlie has had trouble sleeping. Every time he nods off, a frightening witch haunts his dreams… a witch that looks suspiciously like his new step mother. At first he’s not sure if his dreams are real or not, but when the witch comes into the the world while he is awake, and kidnaps his little brother, Charlie is forced to face his biggest nightmares to save him.
Nightmares! is written by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller. Yep, that Jason Segel. Of The Muppets and How I met your Mother fame. Kirsten Miller is also fairly well known as an author, but I have to admit that when I saw Segel’s face (pictured right) on the back cover I was surprised that I hadn’t made the connection before, and it may have made me pick up and start reading then and there.
The books starts a little stiff and slow, with a passive voice that took me a little while to get into. It didn’t take too long to warm up though, and Charlie, while being a tad on the bad mannered side, mostly due to being grumpy from lack of sleep, makes an effective protagonist. He’s clever, quick thinking, and actively seeks to figure out exactly what is going on.
There are some delightful characters, from creepy clowns, to giant rats and talking grubs, to vampires that are thoroughly sick of being asked to sparkle. Charlie’s three friends give him more substance, forcing him to work as a team to solve his problems, and getting to see their individual nightmares is surprisingly fun.
While the story is a little formulaic in structure, the balance between scary and funny is fantastic, and Nightmares! is an enjoyable read and perfect for kids who love to read under the covers with a flashlight.