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Sarah Allen

Middle Grade, FSG, 2023

In this spooky middle grade novel perfect for fans of SMALL SPACES, DOLL BONES, and V. E. Schwab, a young girl’s deepest fears take on terrifying new life when she confronts a supernatural foe who can manipulate her nightmares.

Penny Hope used to be brave, but that was before she met the Fear Maker. Years later, he still haunts her dreams―a tall, thin man with red eyes, in a haunted house in the woods, who devours human souls and leaves his victims' eyes hollow and empty. Penny’s beloved grandma tells her to write down these nightmares as poems in her notebook. But then Penny starts seeing blank-eyed people in the waking world, too. She’s the only one who notices.

As more people around her fall prey to the Fear Maker, Penny must gather her courage once and for all to save the souls of those she loves. With the help of her notebook and a new friend, she ventures to the Fear Maker’s house. But the house is a labyrinth of nightmares and tricks―and the Fear Maker’s fun is just beginning.

In this just-scary-enough monster story that’s also about dealing with relentless anxiety, see how far a penny’s worth of hope will take you when you enter Sarah Allen’s THE NIGHTMARE HOUSE.

Rights Sold:

USA: Macmillan / FSG (NA); Russia: Eksmo


“[Penny’s] poems weave their way through the narrative, fortifying Allen’s own lyrical writing and adding to the overall message that strength can be found in words and creativity . . . Fans of Jonathan Auxier’s THE NIGHT GARDENER will find the Fear Maker alluring but may suffer some nightmares of their own after following Penny to his door. Allen deals in both beauty and terror, rendering this a sophisticated choice for horror readers.” ―Booklist, starred review

“11-year-old Penny Hope’s anxiety manifests as a real-life monster under her bed in this ethereal novel . . . Poetic prose and visceral emotion infuse realistic depth into this mood-driven, allegorical portrayal of mental illness. Stark b&w illustrations by Hewitt employ a photo negative effect to accentuate Penny’s brooding poems.” ―Publishers Weekly

“The first-person narration sparks sympathy―[Penny] is a girl tormented by fear who is, even with magic seeds and a notebook of poems, woefully unprepared to face a soul devourer on her own. Her eventual determined pursuit of the Fear Maker in his own domain is all the more powerful because readers will see how hard-won that determination is, and it may inspire them to peek beyond their own fears, seeing if those boundaries can be pushed just a bit as well.” ―The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books

“Both a terrifying story for kids and a poetic fight song against the prison anxiety builds around the human heart, THE NIGHTMARE HOUSE is timeless, exciting, beautiful, creepy, and above all, full of the hope that lights even the darkest nights.” ―Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times–bestselling author of MINE

“A gorgeous book with scares enough for the brave at heart and heart enough for everyone. I loved every page.” ―Lora Senf, author of THE CLACKITY

“THE NIGHTMARE HOUSE is a haunting and hopeful testament of art’s ability to fill our broken spaces. As readers watch Penny embrace her innate bravery, they will be inspired to do the same.” ―Josh Allen, author of Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe

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