Nightbooks is a lesson in self-acceptance disguised as an adventure

Natachas bonekeys have the power to open any magical door in her apartment and she makes sure they never leave her side.

Conner Arrington

Natacha’s bonekeys have the power to open any magical door in her apartment and she makes sure they never leave her side.

Ashley Hall, Editor-in-Chief

“Nightbooks,” a novel written by J.A White, is a fairy tale thriller released in 2018 that is targeted towards children ages 8 to 12. The story has its fair share of suspense, mystery and themes that scarily reflect reality through believable characters.

“Nightbooks” follows 12-year-old Alex Mosher, a boy with a creative mind and an affinity for everything that goes bump in the night. Unfortunately, Alex is ashamed of these two virtues, going so far as to attempt to destroy his own scary stories that he houses in simple composition notebooks. He calls these his nightbooks.

The set-up of the story is fast-paced, the writing seemingly trying to get readers to the meat of the story as fast as possible. As a result, the reading can be a bit jarring as the readers are thrown into the plot. However, this is reflective of how Alex found himself pulled into the magical apartment of the sadistic witch, Natacha.

After his imprisonment, Alex learns something that becomes integral to his survival only three chapters into the 22 chapter novel: Natacha likes scary stories.

Despite Alex being held captive by a literal witch with seemingly unlimited power, the fear of being one’s self turned out to be the scariest thing in the book.

Alex didn’t want to be the boy that loved zombies and ghosts, he wanted to be normal like the other kids. This meant throwing away his nightbooks full of his scary stories and vowing not to write anymore.

It is only through his trials trapped in Natacha’s apartment, alongside fellow prisoner Yasmin, that Alex realizes he has no reason to be ashamed of who he is. In the end, his stories are what save his life and the lives of others.

Self-acceptance is an issue that hits close to home for an abundance of kids that grew up being called the weird ones–the outcasts. I was one of those kids and embracing myself was something that took time to accomplish.

Speaking from experience, I think this is an excellent theme to include in the story because it’s something that needs to be told to children early in their lives. No one should ever try to turn themselves into someone they’re not just to please other people.

“’Maybe it’s not just me who’s weird,’ Alex thought. ‘Maybe we’re all weird in different ways,’” said White in the book.

Netflix released a film adaptation of the book on Sept. 15, and I for one can’t wait to see how the world of “Nightbooks” is brought to life. A sequel called “Gravebooks” is set to release Aug. 16, 2022. This is something to look forward to when Halloween rolls around again next year.