I was fortunate enough to be offered a review copy of Welcome to Nightmare Academy: Nightmare Academy #1 by author Anthony Avina. In addition to this review, I also have an interview with the author.
For a brief overview of Welcome to Nightmare Academy, here is the synopsis provided by the author:
The novella focuses on Francesca, an immortal vampire teenage girl who finds herself attending the mysterious Nightmare Academy. A prequel to the adult series “Nightmare Wars”, this YA series will explore the lives of Francesca and the friends she makes in the academy, which is filled with creatures from myth and legend. She will have to learn what the academy’s true purpose is, all while navigating teenage hierarchy and dealing with budding friendships and romances, an experience difficult for her as she must learn who she can trust, and who she cannot. Soon a deadly threat emerges, and as Francesca struggles to hold onto her own secrets, she must find her place within the Nightmare Academy.
- The story flows quickly and easily, which is important both for the novella format and the YA genre. A reader could pick up and enjoy this fun, light story in an hour or so.
- Francesca, the protagonist, is both relatable and interesting. She’s around 100 years old but was turned as a young woman. The mixture of teenage emotions with decades of experience create some intriguing internal conflicts that make her character unique. Her friends and allies also round out a solid ensemble cast.
- The setting of the Nightmare Academy, with a wide variety of supernatural beings gathered together to learn and develop bonds within their community. However, the facade of just being a school soon falls away to reveal something more sinister at work, which is central to the main conflict and the reason Francesca is at the academy.
Areas for Improvement:
- The moment when I was most taken out of the story was when a couple of the characters recounted their backgrounds. They speak for paragraphs about themselves and those parts feel a bit like information dumps. To avoid bogging down the story, I would have made those pieces more conversational or turned them into flashbacks that play out more as scenes. I think that would feel a bit more natural.
- The perspective seems to be third-person limited throughout the story, generally focused on Francesca’s point of view. However, there were a couple of moments of head hopping, where the point of view shifted without a scene break. These moments can be just a bit disorienting for the reader.
Overall, aside from those couple of issues that I’ve identified above, I found Welcome to Nightmare Academy to be an enjoyable read. The setting drew me in and Francesca’s experiences at the academy kept me reading. If you want something light and quick, it’s a fun way to spend an hour.