A boy and a girl stand in a dark clearing, gravely injured, and near death.
This dream belongs to 17-year-old Misha Antall, but when he meets Tanvi Mahajan—the girl from his nightmares—in real life, Misha can’t resist getting close to her. The pair soon stir up a heated romance, but Misha’s harrowing past, marked by an abusive father, colors his actions in the relationship, while the traumatic loss of an aunt draws out a vulnerable strand in Tanvi, driving her further into his arms. Their poisoned relationship follows an ill-fated trajectory, aided by Misha’s jealousy, obsession, and own abusive behavior toward Tanvi. Then the nightmares become a reality: Tanvi falls victim to a kidnapping plot thanks to her family’s wealth, and Misha gets swept up as well. An evil, vindictive entity that threatens to engulf everything in its path awaits them at the kidnappers’ hideout. From the opening sentence, the author piles on the dread and scares as she deconstructs Misha and Tanvi’s mostly toxic relationship with a sharp taste for emotional complexity. Employing rich language, she depicts adolescent turmoil via ominous imagery but never loses sight of the hopeful possibility of change. Black-and-white photographs add an unnerving sense of visual horror during key suspenseful moments. Tanvi is of Indian descent, one major character is black, and most others are white (and are refreshingly named as such).
Gut-wrenching on various levels. (Psychological horror. 14-18)