The Nest

By Kenneth Oppel, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

Book cover of The Nest

Book description

'The first time I saw them, I thought they were angels.' The baby is sick. Mom and Dad are sad. And all Steve has to do is say, "Yes" to fix everything. But yes is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Nest as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

In this middle-grade horror novel, Steve is feeling lonely and worried. His newborn brother is sick in the hospital, and his parents are understandably stressed. There’s also a wasp’s nest threatening their home, which becomes a bigger problem when the wasp queen visits him in his dreams. One night, the queen comes to Steve and offers to help “fix” the baby.

I have read many, many horror books. I consider myself a connoisseur of the creepy. This book, intended for middle-grade children, remains one of the scariest books I’ve read. It’s filled with dread while also centering on family.


Sometimes the scariest thing about monsters is how much we relate to them. Or how much we want to listen to them. That’s exactly what’s being explored in The Nest by Kenneth Oppel.

There’s a surreal quality to this story, as the wasps outside the boy's window begin talking to him. We think their intentions are good at first, but the creepiness builds and builds until it’s almost overpowering. Until the main character doesn’t know if he can resist any longer.

This is a perfect story about finding the thing inside us that’s stronger than any monster.

On my first read of Oppel’s spare masterpiece, I thought, I haven’t been this scared by a book in a long time. It’s a middle-grade novel, but don’t let that stop you from picking it up. Steve is anxious about his baby brother, who was born with severe health problems. When an otherworldly creature offers to help, he assumes he’s communicating with an angel. The creature can fix Steve’s brother—a normal baby certainly would be a huge relief for his whole family. But what does it mean to fix him? And what is “normal,” anyway? This is a haunting, beautifully…

From Alisa's list on deals with devils.

I’m not sure how to classify Oppel’s haunting and thoughtful novel, except to say that it straddles the line between fantasy and reality and is much more than just a psychological thriller (though it is that). It tells the story of Steve, a boy coping with anxiety, and his quest to save his sick infant brother…by making a deal with a wasp queen to replace his brother with a “better” or “perfect” one. Bizarre? Yes. Creepy? Seriously, especially in the last third of the book. But what struck me most about Oppel’s dreamy narrative was how much I connected with…

From John's list on to spook middle-grade readers.

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