Book Review Review

BOOK REVIEW: Nightbooks by J. A. White

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Nightbooks by J.A. White

Series: Nightbooks #1
Published by: Katherine Tegan on July 24th 2018
Genres: Horror, Fiction, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Source: Library
Format/Pages: Hardcover; 320 pages
Available Formats: Physical, Audio, Ebook
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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


“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.”


I’m not going to lie, the cover of this book is what originally drew me to it. The summary is what made me need to borrow it from the library right then and there. Magic, witches, scary stories, fairytales, what more could you even ask for? And let me say, I was NOT disappointed.

Overall, I loved the characters. I think just about anyone who picks this book up can find a bit of themselves in Alex. He is curious, constantly asking “what if? and is excited by stories (especially the scary ones). Even when he is kidnapped by the witch, he is amazed and intrigued with everything happening. Definitely see myself here!

“‘The other kids,’ Alex said, twisting his nightbook in his hands. ‘They play with dogs. I play with what ifs‘”

– J. A. White, Nightbooks

Nightbooks reads very much like a middle grade novel or a collection of scary stories to read around a campfire, which I love. The inclusion of the stories in a handwritten font added to this feeling. Additionally, I found that showing the notes from Unicorn Girl to add much to the story more than just telling what she said. Personally, if it did not include these details, I don’t think the book would have had the same impact to me.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Although I’m not the biggest fan of clichés (they get old fast), this book does it well. J.A. White almost overdoes it to add to the story, not as the whole substance of the book.

I think I would have adored this book if I read it in middle school. It deals with friendship, companionship, and courage as well as the struggles with creating things.

“If scary stories are the sweet dreams that lull her to sleep, then courage, friendship, compassion – those are the nightmares that will wake her up.”

– J. A. White, Nightbooks

Alex is tasked with writing stories during the day, but he had major writer’s block. Writing advice (that beginners and experts alike can learn) is sprinkled throughout. These bits can also be applied to anything where you are creative as it deals more with the obstacles and self doubt that stops you.


Characters: 4.5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Enjoyment: 4/5

“Every sentence is a learning experience – no writing is ever wasted.”

– J. A. White, Nightbooks


I would recommend this book to creators and people who love stories. And those who enjoyed Coraline… it has the same vibes!

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