*Warning: review contains some spoilers, although I personally think that this review would enhance rather than hinder your reading experience…
Nightmarish Reality is a brilliant young adult paranormal fiction novel that touches on important contemporary issues. Set in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s America, the novel follows the story of Zander Russell, a teenage boy raised by a single mother. His story gives the reader a firsthand perspective of the struggles of growing up in a single mother household. It also sheds light on how the lack of a father-figure has resulted in an identity crisis, leading to anger, confusion, vulnerability, and nihilism. Zander’s personality and thinking processes reveal a distinct lack of a masculine identity, which can be attributed to the lack of a father, and this opens him up to victimization at the hands of his teachers, peers... and supernatural forces.
Zander is haunted by a supernatural being in his nightmares and this gradually spills into the real world, resulting in physical wounds to his body. The only person who seems to be able to keep these supernatural forces at bay is Samuel, an elderly Man of the Book whom Zander meets at a park. It is no coincidence that Samuel exhibits many of the characteristics of a strong father figure –something which Zander desperately needs and craves for – a desperation so strong that it turns into sexual perversion which ultimately pushes away this father figure.
One of the brilliant aspects of this story is that it can be interpreted in many different ways. One can interpret the nightmares, the supernatural occurrences, and even Samuel the father figure as figments of Zander’s imagination. The reader may find it strange why supernatural forces would be drawn towards Zander in the first place. Perhaps he’s simply an easy victim. Or perhaps this is a conflict which is occurring all in his head. Zander frequently thinks of himself as powerless – a victim. Nothing is more dangerous that a man who sees himself as a powerless victim – a theme which is highly relevant in contemporary America. Such people are easily tempted by evil, so it is no surprise that the supernatural being haunting Zander eventually makes Zander a tempting offer.
One criticism of this novel is that it sometimes lacks a consistent perspective. The author switches between Zander’s first person perspective and various other third-person perspectives – sometimes within the same chapter. When these perspectives clash, it's a bit jarring.
The story would be stronger if Zander were a more active protagonist. He could have made more of an effort to understand and confront the supernatural force haunting him.
In conclusion, Nightmarish Reality is an intriguing paranormal fiction story with an interesting premise. The novel provokes deep thought, and it is emotionally powerful. It is recommended for anyone who isn’t afraid to jump into the mind of an angry, angst-filled teenage boy. If you aim to understand the mindset of someone who has every reason to be tempted by the devil, then this is the book for you.
The author's Minds channel can be found at this link:
Nightmarish Reality can be purchased on Amazon at this link: