Maybe we are all weird in different ways.Nightbooks by J.A. White
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. This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.
“Nightbooks” has become a mystery for me because this book has been on my tbr for a while but I don’t remember how I discovered it or where the recommendation came from 😂
All I know is that after being completely destroyed by The Song of Achilles, I started to feel myself falling into a kind of reading slump and so I needed something to get me out of it before it fully had time to settle 😓
That’s how I came across this one. It’s relatively short and the summary caught my attention so I just dived right in kind of only expecting a fun, entertaining story to pass the time. Oh man, did I underestimate this book!
In this fun and twisted adventure that mixes up “Hansel and Gretel” and “Scheherezade”, we follow the story of Alex, who slips out of his apartment during one night intending to go down to the basement and burn his ‘nightbooks’. He calls them this because he has spent countless sleepless nights writing down the spookiest of stories in it. What he doesn’t expect is to end up in a corridor he has never seen before, captured by a witch. Now he must tell the witch a scary story every night if he wishes to stay alive long enough to figure out a way to escape her clutches.
The plot is curious and gripping enough on its own, but what really added an extra magic to this book, making it one of my favorites, is the fact that we have access to Alex’s real stories. And they add just the right amount of extra creepiness to the book. It’s like a compilation of short spooky stories inside of a bigger, even spookier story. That for me added a depth to the tale that had me at the edge of my sit.
Another enthralling factor is that this is a story about stories. Alex is not only a lover of books he is also a devoted writer. Because of that throughout the book we get small lessons on writing and storytelling, giving the readers tips on how to craft their own stories.
I always find it so relaxing and refreshing to read a book where the main character, or any of the characters has a love for books or writing because it makes it all that much more relatable. Alex basically gets to live in the stories he always reads and writes about, as if he fell inside a book.
“Good stories, build their own worlds. Events that might seem crazy or unlikely in reality can make perfect sense within the right context. That’s called interior logic”
“Every sentence is a learning experience – no writing is ever wasted”Nightbooks by J.A. White
The characters are also really engaging. Yasmin is the other prisoner, and the friendship she develops with Alex is not only believable but really delightful. We get some of their back stories and learn a bit about their families and lives before being kidnaped but the main factor that brings them together is the terrifying situation they are going through and how they find strength in each other. Even the witch, Natacha, gets her plausible backstory which is as creepy as the one they are living through right now.
It was also extremely pleasing to see the growth that Alex experienced while being there, especially when it comes to his self-acceptance and understanding that just because he is not like the other “normal” kids or doesn’t like the same things as them, doesn’t mean he is not especial and brave, and that his talents deserve to be recognized for the amazing gift they are.
“Nightbooks” is a testament to the power of storytelling and friendship. It shows us that words are a magic of their own. That stories are magic. They don’t just give us a little distraction from the life around us or take us to a whole other magical world we could only dream of. They do all that but even more. They speak to our souls, reach for something inside of us that we sometimes don’t even realize was there in the first place. And then it brings those things to life, it shines a light at them. They teach us so much about the world, but most importantly they teach us about ourselves. If anything this book was a reminder of why I love reading so much. What the stories really mean to me.