Go­ing be­yond the ob­vi­ous

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS -

Night­mares from en­ter­ing the wak­ing world, life has gone back to nor­mal. Or as nor­mal as it can get for guardians of the por­tal. Yes, it turns out that’s what Char­lie and Jack are.

Work­ing for Char­lotte af­ter school at Hazel’s Her­bar­ium, Char­lie no­tices that there are fewer and fewer cus­tomers com­ing into the shop. Fi­nances are tight for the Lairds, and their only hope to turn things around is the book that Char­lotte has writ­ten – with in­put from Char­lie – chron­i­cling the Nether­world.

That’s not the Lairds’ only prob­lem. Some­thing weird is hap­pen­ing in the nearby town of Orville Falls, and their only clue is the blue “Tran­quil­ity Tonic” that claims to help peo­ple sleep with no night­mares, sold at the “shop with the clouds on the win­dow”. Char­lie, Jack and his friends fran­ti­cally try to fig­ure out what’s hap­pen­ing be­fore the same thing hap­pens to their own town of Cy­press Creek.

Night­mares 2 is just as good as the first book. In fact, it’s even bet­ter, sim­ply be­cause now the char­ac­ters are fa­mil­iar and yet they’re still grow­ing. Char­lie in par­tic­u­lar grows a lot in space of 360 pages. Fight­ing his jeal­ousy over Jack ( who, as it turns out has been a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to the Nether­world), en­cour­ag­ing Char­lotte to sell her book be­cause the fam­ily can­not sell the pur­ple man­sion where the por­tal to the Nether­world is, and sav­ing the world again is a lot of things for a ter­ri­fied, barely 13- year- old to do. Yet he does it. In fact, when Jack ad­mits to be­ing afraid, Char­lie tells him that ev­ery time he’s afraid, he has a chance to be brave.

And that’s the re­cur­ring theme in the nov­els: fac­ing your fears.

Jack is an in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter as well. While in the first book he played a smaller role, he is cen­tral to a lot of go­ings on in the se­cond. Fear­less, he has made friends with most of the Night­mares, and does the things that Char­lie ini­tially hes­i­tates to do. Yet he is also the scape­goat for all the bad things hap­pen­ing, and with­out Char­lie, he is lost and afraid.

An­other thing that stood out in this book is that the adults ( aside from Char­lotte) are the ones who are at first in­flu­enced by the tran­quil­ity tonic, while the chil­dren are forced to take it by their par­ents. It’s an in­ter­est­ing look into adult sleep­less­ness – that adults have very dif­fer­ent night ter­rors than chil­dren, yet the night­mares are real, all the same.

Funny and touch­ing, both book one and two are fun and en­gag­ing. Book three is due in out Septem­ber.

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