The Nightmare Effect by Saxmei Milano
What do you do when you're the only hope for the human race?
It's a question Danielle Garcia has never considered. Usually she was too busy trying to answer the question of, "What do you do when you have strange abilities and the entire town is terrified of you?" As if growing up in the middle-of-freaking-nowhere wasn't bad enough, Danielle is shunned wherever she goes, feared by all because of her unnatural appearance and… a few other secrets.
That is, until the new students move in. Signum Travvols and his mysterious young family charm the town, blinding them to what Danielle can't help but see: they have their own set of strange abilities, bizarre appearances, and dark secrets.
But between an ancient battle for domination of the world and supernatural hybrids created from fire and darkness, their secrets might be more than Danielle bargained for. And first, she'll have to answer the most ominous question of all: why won't they leave her alone?
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from The Author and Amazon Digital Services LLC in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Writing an open and honest review for a friend is extraordinarily difficult.
On the one hand, you want people to take you seriously, because you’re A Professional and you won’t get your personal relationship get in the way of you critique of their art. In fact, you my be inclined to write an extra harsh review because you don’t want people to think that you’re biased.
On the other hand… writing a book takes a lot of love and care. Fantasy in particular requires additional world building and the rules of magic and it’s difficult. You love your friend and she’s worked hard and you want her to be happy.
It’s been extraordinarily difficult for me to read The Nightmare Effect because it was written by one of my favorite people in the world. Because I was one of the early editors on it. Because it is not my kind of book. I am going to try and write this review so, so carefully. As a reader, I hope you know and understand that I am giving you my honest opinion and doing my very best to forget who the author is. And Sam (since I know you lurk <3 ) please don’t take anything I say to heart. It’s poison to read reviews on your own book, because you are too close and it’s your baby. I love you, twinsie.
I like rich high fantasy and cleverly subtle magical realism. Paranormal romance annoys me. It takes an extraordinary story to get me to invest in a paranormal romance and even then, I assure you, I spend a lot of time rolling my eyes. I’m not a romantic soul, and it’s something I’ve learned to accept about myself.
The Nightmare Effect is primarily a paranormal romance. It’s about a young woman – Danielle Gomez – coming into her own as a Liberi de Nox. What is a Liberi de Nox, you may ask? It’s a whole new race of creatures: part X-Men, part vampire, part dark fae. Never fear – you’ll get their whole history in the book. In discovering who she is and what it means to be born with these gifts, she also discovers family and friendship… and of course, love. But its complicated. Isn’t love always complicated?
I think that some characters in this story are well done, while others are unnecessary. I very much like the dark, brooding character of Viktor (I know, right? Brooding YA hero guise and all), and I thought the vivacious Tia was a delight. Beyond that, we have a lot of characters. We have Danielle and her older brother Anthony on one hand, then the family of Libers includes another seven (?) characters all of whom exist for their gifts. Everyone has a Role to Play, but in the meanwhile it’s very easy to lose track of who does what. Rian and Eccs, for example, were only present when their magic was needed, and Everett was there purely for the comedic relief. We have too many characters with too much importance that could have been rolled into one to make it easier on the readers. Even from day one, I’ve never been in love with the male lead, Signum Travvols. From the things he does to Danielle to his big puppy eyes, I am very much not on board with him as a character.
I think others will like Signum, though. He’s part Augustus Waters, part Adrian from Bloodlines. He’ll appeal to others who like the brooding romantic type.
What Saxmei does well is her contemporary scenes, and I know that’s likely not what she wants to hear. This author loves her fantasy worlds and spends hours upon hours creating maps and complex magic systems, but where her writing works the best is on dates and family dinners. Her dialogue flows really well and there are moments where she describes something in the setting so superbly you can practically see and smell it.
As a reader, I was more invested at the beginning of the story, where Danielle felt more invested in the world and was taking things in at her own pace. As the tale went along, I found there was a lot of explaining and a lot of the descriptors focused on changing eye colors than body language. The pacing picked up and doubled within the second half of the book, and still I felt myself skimming because there was so much dialogue. Again, this is something a lot of people like in YA, but it drives me crazy. I like epic fantasies, remember? Tolkien spend sixteen pages describing Legolas’ hair (possible exaggeration) so if you give me two pages of conversation, I get bored. Do you love dialogue? Then you’ll love this book!
For a three-hundred page book, The Nightmare Effect really flies by. And, lacking an agent and editor and publishing team, this one came out really well. Self-publishing isn’t an easy road, and you often miss out on the opportunity of critique from industry professionals. For a quick, light read with strong paranormal romance, The Nightmare Effect is great. It’s easy and very faced-paced, and I can see it being a one-shot in-flight or beach read that YA fans would enjoy.