City of Nightmares

City of Nightmares

By Author / Illustrator

Rebecca Schaeffer


Suspense & Thrillers

Age range(s)



Hodder & Stoughton








Face your fear . . . or become your nightmare.   Ever since her sister became a man-eating spider and slaughtered her way through town, 19-year-old Ness has been terrified - terrified of some other Nightmare murdering her, and terrified of ending up like her sister. Because in Newham, the city that never sleeps, dreaming means waking up as your worst fear.

Whether that means becoming a Nightmare that's monstrous only in appearance, or transforming into a twisted, unrecognizable creature that terrorizes the city, no one is safe. Ness will do anything to avoid becoming another victim, even if that means lying low among the Friends of the Restful Soul, a questionable organization that may or may not be a cult.

But being a member of this maybe-cult has a price. In order to prove herself, Ness cons her way into what's supposed to be a simple job for the organization - only for it to blow up in her face. Literally. Tangled up in the aftermath of an explosive assassination, now Ness and the only other survivor - a Nightmare boy who Ness suspects is planning to eat her - must find their way back to Newham and uncover the sinister truth behind the attack, even as the horrors of her past loom ominously near.



City of Nightmares is set on an island where the inhabitants don't want to dream. Why? because dreams can lead to nightmares, and people can turn into their worst nightmares. The only way to stop this from happening is if they take medicine to stop them from dreaming. For those who are already nightmares, there is a team of people called the nightmare defense team, who battle the worse of them.

Some nightmares change in appearance but their minds remain as they were. Others seem to fully change and no longer show any signs of humanity. Ness and Priya, two of the main characters in the story, couldn't be more different and yet so similar. One is brave, adventurous and wants to fight the nightmares, such as giant man eating spider or vampires, while the other is so scared and timid she hides as soon as anything happens.

They story takes us on a fantasy adventure, a journey of self discovery and growth for the girls, with Ness being the main focus of the story. It took me a while to get into the story but once I did I wanted to read until the end to see how the tale unfolded. A good read. I have put the reading age as 14+ but younger readers who don't mind a bit of scaring would probably enjoy as well. 

384 pages / Reviewed by Emelia

Suggested Reading Age 14+


Warning... what you don't want to do is read this new release just before you go to sleep! You do not want to turn into your worst nightmare... From the very first pages of City of Nightmares, you are dropped into a page turning, creepy, sinister drama. I'm sure, like me, you will be gripped, you will want to know what's coming next...

Newham is a city that's full of corruption, It has no rules. It's also a city where the residents risk turning permanently into their worst nightmare when they go to sleep; the only way to stop this is to take drugs before bed so that they don't dream. The reader follows the journey of Ness, who witnessed her sister turn into a man-eating spider and devour their father. Since this incident, She is scared of dreaming and, understandably, is terrified of nightmares. Ness takes refuge with the Friends of Restful soul as they offered her therapy for her trauma. It's not working, though; when confronted with a nightmare, she runs and hides in a 'cowardly' way, even when out on a call with her best friend Priya! The Friends (it's not a cult!) send her on a last ditch attempt to keep her place at the centre - to take the mail. From from this point on, like the blurb promises, things explode. The only good thing at this moment is that Ness meets Cy, a vampire. Is this a good thing or does he just want to eat her?

Throughout its 374 pages, the development of Ness feels very realistic as it follows her from her scared self to overcoming her fears and becoming brave and strong. City of Nightmares is everything you want in a book as it's full of twists and turns and action-packed drama with a likeable cast of characters, and it tackles some difficult topics like grief and trauma. However, the author has cleverly done this whilst being lighthearted and funny. An easily recommended read. Get it and enjoy.

384 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+


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