Nightmares!: Nightmares, Book 1

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Nightmares!: Nightmares, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Empowering, sweet story about the fears that haunt us.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Colosseum and Medusa play important roles in the Netherworld.


Positive Messages

In his journey through the Netherworld, Charlie gets a master lesson on how to get the upper hand on fear. Acknowledging fear helps dilute its strength, he realizes, but the only way to render it powerless is to face it squarely and understand why you're afraid. Friendship, honesty, loyalty, and faith help Charlie and his friends find their way to safety. Friends and family who reach out to him demonstrate understanding that outward prickliness can be a sign of emotional suffering. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Charlie feels bad about how he's treating the people close to him and takes responsibility for putting his friends, his community, and others in danger. When Jack's threatened, Charlie steadfastly works to help him, as do other characters who risk their safety to aid his quest. He and his loyal, compassionate friends have bonded by supporting each other through difficult times. Charlie's family members are frustrated with his behavior, but they still try to comfort and help him. 

Violence & Scariness

Charlie's in constant peril in the Netherworld. Beyond the cackling witch and her cat, hungry to eat a boy, there are gorgons, fanged bunnies, goblins, and countless more monsters. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nightmares!, by actor Jason Segel and veteran author Kirsten Miller, explores dark territory and uses scary imagery. But, ultimately, it's a reassuring, comforting book about the power of fear and how to overcome it. The death of Charlie's mother several years earlier and his suspicion that his new stepmother's a witch drive the plot. His friends have their own weighty worries, including a boy dealing with teasing and a girl whose mother suffers from severe depression. Their adventures in the Netherworld can be harrowing: They're in constant danger, and menacing characters lurk everywhere.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byKaren V. August 17, 2019
Adult Written byAngela G. April 29, 2018
Teen, 13 years old Written byILOVEDOGS_SO_MUCH March 29, 2021


It was the BEST I LOVED it one of the best books i have ever read.
Only thing that got me spooked was that a gaint cat eat his toes.
My other thing is thst... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bypotcakedog September 8, 2017

Nightmare academy Monster Hunters

Nightmare Academy is the story of Charlie Benjamin's experiences at the Nightmare Academy. Charlie has been an outcast his whole life . But then, he had... Continue reading

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Charlie hasn't had a decent night's sleep in months -- not since his family moved into the creepy purple mansion belonging to his stepmom, Charlotte. She's a witch, he's certain of it, and she's probably partly to blame for the menacing witch who taunts Charlie every night as he sleeps. During the day, Charlie irritably snaps at his brother, his dad, and even his friends, who are concerned about him. Charlie feels guilty, but he's more worried about the witch, who's threatening to take him -- or worse, his brother -- to the Netherworld for good. The only way to end his nightmare is by crossing into the Netherworld and facing his fears, with help from his friends and the walking nightmares who live on the other side.

Is it any good?

This is a charming read rather than an edgy, dark thriller, more Tim Burton and Roald Dahl than Lemony Snicket. NIGHTMARES! the first in a trilogy by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. Charlie's nightmare is based on the same scary dreams that spooked Segel as a child, and he and Miller aim to reassure children that fear is normal, OK, and conquerable. 

The writing is a little flat, and the children, armed with positive affirmations and frequent epiphanies, rise a little too easily to formidable challenges. But children are likely to enjoy the warmhearted, affectionately told tale and the appealing characters. The Netherworld is richly imagined with a nice balance of humor and horror -- this is one nightmare young readers will eagerly revisit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Charlie's friends and family try to help even when he's being so hostile. Have you ever pushed people away when you really needed help? Have you had friends who tried to hide their fear or hurt?

  • How does fantasy help us explore our fears and anxieties?


  • One of the coauthors based his story on his childhood nightmares. Try writing a story based on your own dreams. 


Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

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