Charlie Laird faces off against ICK and INK in the finale of the Nightmares! trilogy.
Charlie and his friends foiled ICK and INK’s plot involving the Tranquility Tonic (The Sleepwalker Tonic, 2015), but many mysteries remain. What is ICK and INK’s endgame? Why is INK suddenly enrolled in Charlie’s school? And will Charlie finally work up the courage to ask Paige out? All is answered in this final volume, which returns to the standard set by series opener Nightmares! (2014). The authors delight in turning bread crumbs dropped in prior entries into full-on sandwiches; ICK and INK are compelling antagonists, fully realized and just as emotionally complex as the heroes. Charlie’s relationships with his brother and stepmother deepen, but unfortunately his relationship with Paige stays in neutral. While it’s hard to fault Charlie for focusing on the danger the world is facing rather than his love life, fans who’ve watched these two kids dance around each other for three years now will get a bit fidgety. This is a testament to the authors’ achievement in crafting smart, funny, and empathetic heroes and villains that anchor this trilogy in an emotional reality few middle-grade series achieve. The Netherworld is filled with imaginative creatures and critters, the humor remains silly and fun, and the characters (somewhat diverse, judging by the cover, though Charlie is white) remain engaging.
This is one trilogy that ends on a high note. (Fantasy. 8-12)