The Nightmare Brigade, Volume 1: The girl from Deja Vu is a mesmerizing dive into the world of dreams. When Esteban is rescued in the forest by Professor Angus, he joins the Nightmare Brigade, a group of people tasked with entering kids nightmares, and stopping them. Professor Angus, Esteban, and Tristan make up part of the team. Esteban can’t remember his past, Tristan uses a wheelchair, and Professor Angus is harboring secrets. There is more to these characters than what meets the eye. These nightmares are debilitating, sometimes causing the kids harm.
Their newest case deals with a girl with amnesia named Sarah. Sarah is suffering from nightmares that are so terrible they are causing her to lose her memory. When Esteban is given a picture of the case patient Sarah, he recognizes her. The professor is hiding a secret that he thinks Esteban may be unable to handle. Equipped with watches called omiricohms that tell them when the patient is dreaming, the Nightmare Brigade enters dreams with the help of a computer. Entering dreams is dangerous, and the only way back to reality is to find the physical door in the lab that leads out of the dream. If a brigade member discovers what is plaguing the patient, the ultimate goal, they are able to save them from their nightmares.
This story delivers by putting the protagonists in dangerous situations including dealing with a war between adults and children. This is a story about the difficulties of growing up and the conflicted feelings that often go with it. There are further twists and turns that make the reader question the professor’s ethics as well as the Nightmare Brigade itself.
The Nightmare Brigade is very original. It is rare that a tale is told in the world of dreams. The story can be rather scary as the lines become blurred between what is reality and what is fiction. The illustrations are very simple, yet effective. The characters are eerie looking, sporting larger than average eyes. The colors are muted tones of blue and orange, giving the story a dreamlike quality. The illustrations don’t reflect realistically proportioned people. This is what a reader would imagine what people in a dream world would resemble.
This story works on many levels. Kids and young teens who are experiencing growing pains will gravitate towards this fantasy. Although the world of dreams is not real, many of the nightmares reflect the real fears of adolescents. This can be a difficult time in their lives, and this story is able to teach them difficult concepts in an engaging way. Readers might identify themselves in any of the lead characters. Overall, I would recommend the Nightmare Brigade to middle grade readers. I would also recommend this story to a reluctant reader looking for a good fantasy read. Readers will be anxious to join the Brigade again and enter new dreams in volume 2. A library interested in expanding their selection of middle grade fantasy would benefit by adding this to their collection.
The Nightmare Brigade, Vol 1. The Girl from Deja Vu
By Franck Thilliez
Art by Yomgui Dumont
NBM Papercutz, 2022
Publisher Age Rating: 7-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)