The Stuff of Nightmares – Malorie Blackman

“There’s something about running. Something… well, if you don’t get it, you won’t get it. Every time my foot smacks the pavement, it’s like an echo of my heartbeat slamming inside me, telling me that ‘I’m here, I’m now, I’m alive’. I don’t jog – jogging is for posers showing off their latest designer gear. No, I run.”

Kyle and his classmates are on their way to a show, a class trip to the local theatre. But getting on the train Kyle can sense there is something wrong. It’s not until a while into their journey that Kyle realises something is really wrong. There’s an accident and the first carriage of the train is crushed, while the second carriage – the one with Kyle and his friends in – is thrown from the tracks and hangs off the side of a bridge. Kyle is awake and can move, many of friends don’t look as lucky… but when Kyle finds himself traveling into his friends’ minds he releases he’s not the only one who knows about fear – he’s not the only one with nightmares. 

***
Wow, I wanted a really scary read for my Halloween week and I was struggling, until I started The Stuff of Nightmares… I found my scary read and now I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep! 
When Kyle starts traveling into his friends’ minds it was strange but I soon came to terms with it… what I struggled to come to terms with was the content of their minds, you get suicide, death, killing, stalking, the devil. Think about it and you get it… and whats worse is there’s a possibility that Kyle is viewing his friends’ futures. It all boils down to the fact that Kyle must face his own fears to survive and the overarching story about Kyle and his parents was really great. 
Reading this book I was reminded of Christopher Priestley’s Tales from the Tunnels Mouth… they are very similar in setting but Priestley’s book is for a younger market and The Stuff of Nightmares is definitely made for an older audience. The nightmares are like having short stories within the overall story and I really liked how it wasn’t just about Kyle but he needed the experiences of the other characters to get where he needed to be. 
The stuff in the short stories was more terrifying than what was happening to Kyle though I wouldn’t want any of it happening to me. I think the most scary chapters had to be Joe’s, Elena’s, Lily’s and Kendra’s… though Kendra’s was fore different reasons to the others’. I don’t really want to go into detail but the mind screw that Joe’s story played on me as a reader was just plain crazy and Lily’s story was terrifying because I didn’t actually see what happened in it coming… plus she had mentioned something about her life to Kyle before he went into her mind that added to the creepy factor. Elena’s story was worrying as it was based in the past and I couldn’t tell if it was real or not and if the events could have happened, I could sense Kyle’s feelings towards her story as if they were my own. Kendra’s as I say is scary for another reason and I think many girls or women reading may feel more inclined to be scared by her story. 
I am used to fantastic writing from Malorie Blackman, having read and loved some of her other books but I do think The Stuff of Nightmares probably wasn’t her best work. The writing was a little slow at times and the overall story dragged a little considering how anti-climatic the ending was… I still very much enjoyed it though and think she does scary short stories fantastically well, would definitely recommend this one! 
The Stuff of Nightmares was published in 2007 by Doubleday. My copy was borrowed from Steffi. 

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  • Just downloaded it to my kindle. Thanks 🙂

  • It’s shame this one didn’t live up to your MB expectations. I’m glad you still enjoyed it though, even the synopsis scared me! :3

  • Glad to see a review of an older book! I tried reading this recently though and I just couldn’t get into it 🙁

  • Ooh! This sounds fab and I loved the Chris Priestly books – I think I’ll have to give this one a go. It’s a shame it wasn’t as good as you thought it would be though!