By J.A. White
Audio Book Narrated by Kirby Heyborne
Published on: July 24, 2018
Spooky middle grade stories are one of my favorite genres to read. They have a creep factor, but not too much. Plus, they typically have a happy ending. I say ‘typically’ because I’ve run across a Goosebumps story or two that didn’t. Nightbooks has won or been short-listed for several awards and honors, but what excites me most at this moment is that this particular book is also being adapted for Netflix. Woot!
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.
* Summer 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List * YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * 2019-2020 Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award * 2020 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award Nominee * Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year 2019 (9-12) * 2020-2021 Missouri Association of School Librarians Truman Readers Award Preliminary Nominee *
One night Alex sneaks out of his apartment. He is looking to throw out his Nightbooks. These Nightbooks are his collection of horror stories that he has written ever since he fell in love with the genre when he was much younger. But….as he goes to throw them out he gets lured into the apartment of a witch and is forced to read to her a spooky story every night.
Overall, there are several spooky elements that help introduce a young reader to the genre. A door that disappears when Alex enters the magical apartment trapping him inside, a magical garden with some terrifying plants, a cat that has the ability to turn invisible and spy on you. But I found the apartment itself to be the creepiest of all as it is almost as if it is alive at times.
Although I enjoyed the story, I found my favorite parts were when Alex was reading his short stories. They each were very well done and help my attention completely. One in particular about two brothers really played on several of my emotions as I grew angry, happy, worried, and then angry again all in a short span of time.
Kirby Heyborne is the narrator of this audio book. Apparently he is very well thought of because his list of narration credits is very, very long. This list includes Gone Girl, Cloud Atlas, Story Thieves series, 3 of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children books, etc. Being trapped in an apartment doesn’t allow for too many characters in the story so his strength in Nightbooks doesn’t necessarily rely on the voice portrayals. Instead it is how he plays out the creep factor along with portraying a young boy who is scared and unsure of himself at times. As you might expect, there are a few tense moments in the story and Kirby has great hesitation in his voice as he portrays the action and suspense. I appreciated his version of the witch as she does quite a bit of screaming at times to the two children locked in her apartment when she is even slightly unhappy about something. When she does it you can tell he is really screaming, but not done at the same volume as the other levels of the narration.
Overall a good creepy story to listen on a dark and stormy night. Although it was entertaining I wasn’t 100% enthralled all the time, but definitely a good story all around.
Recommended for fans of Goosebumps, Small Spaces, and cats that can turn invisible.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts, hosted by Greg Pattridge at Always in the Middle.