Review: Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

IMG_0169Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love one debilitating phobia at a time.

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.

I received a copy from Hot Key Books via Reader First in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:


We follow Esther Solo. Esther’s family are cursed in a variety of ways unique to each family member. It can happen at any time in their lives and explores how mental health impacts not only on themselves but on their whole family. Esther, with the help of Jonah go in search of Death to break the curse and overcome her fears along the way.

First off. I really liked how mental health is explored in this book and how it highlights the many different ways it manifests in different people, not only is it done sensitively, its also unique . I think its important to explore the subject in a variety of ways and show the many ways it can affect people and I honestly feel Krystal did a really good job of it. I love the characters, especially Eugene and Hephzibar, whom I related to the most out of everyone. I found Esther incredibly inspiring, brave and completely unique. I could gush about Semi Definitive for hours, I don’t want to spoil I think for anyone though.

Overall I really loved this book and would highly recommend it. My only issue was that there isn’t a suicide/self-harm trigger warning. I know there is a key on the back of the book, ‘death’ is pretty vague though considering it’s easy to interpret parts of the story differently. I’m saying this only because it was something that hit me hard and I know I’m not the only one who could be triggered by it. This is in no way a dig at Krystal who has done a brilliant job with this book, this is just something I felt was important to mention.

published by: Hot Key Books

publication date: 05/09/2017

pages: 368

Buy from: Waterstones Book Depository

11 thoughts on “Review: Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland”

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