PUBLISHER: TOR Teen
RELEASE DATE: 7th Aug 2012
FORMAT: Hardback, 332 pages
GENRE: Horror, Young Adult
It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on. His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.
Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong…these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears. Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favour. (Goodreads)
*This review may contain spoilers for Anna Dressed in Blood*
Anna Dressed in Blood was one of my favourite reads of the year, so I was incredibly excited to read the sequel, GIRL OF NIGHTMARES, by Kendare Blake. I’d been waiting for this book for months, and I’m pleased to say that it more than lived up to my expectations.
Kicking off where the first book ended, Cas and his friends, Thomas and Carmel, are trying to re-adapt to life at school after Anna saved their lives. She was dragged into the afterlife, and Cas is finding it difficult to readjust as he needs to know whether she is finally at peace. Thomas and Carmel are willing him to let her go, and to try to get back to normal, even though they miss her too and sympathise with Cas’ plight.
He now takes his friends along with him when he is sent to dispatch ghosts, but when one of his marks doesn’t go as planned it becomes clear that he is placing his friends in unnecessary mortal peril. He takes his eye off the ball when he thinks he hears Anna’s laugh coming out the ghost’s mouth, becoming hesitant to use his athame blade as quickly as he should have.
Cas then begins to see Anna everywhere, but every time he does all he sees is her killing herself in different ways, her body often contorted into violent shapes. However, she is unable to communicate with him, and none of his friends are able to see her, thinking that he might just be seeing things. But Cas knows that Anna is haunting him for a reason, and is determined to find out why, with or without the help of his friends.
“Anna, it’s me. Can you hear me?” I walk toward her, but not too fast. If I go too fast she might disappear. If I go too fast I might see too much; I could pull her around and see that she has no face, that she’s a jerking corpse. She could turn to ash in my hands.
Thomas is more than willing to help his friend, but Carmel has her doubts, and when they perform a spell ritual to try and contact Anna, Cas finds out the fate of his avenging ghost girl. She is trapped in Hell, forever being tortured and is unsure if her conversation with Cas is real, or another part of her torment. When she asks him for help, Cas’s mind is set on returning her to the mortal world where he can be with her once more.
Kendare Blake’s writing was once again fantastic and fast paced, and I could barely put this book down. The story kept throwing out surprises, and I was really intrigued as to how Cas would go about retrieving Anna from the depths of Hell. His journey takes him to some frightening new places, with the Suicide Forest sticking firmly in my mind as a perfect horror scene. I won’t reveal too much about it, but this scene was one of the creepiest things I’ve read in a long time.
Cas was the same enthralling protagonist I remembered, with strong moral values about which ghosts should be dispatched and which should be left to roam the mortal plane. He only dispatches those who have become murderous, but his moral values are thrown into question in this book, as Anna is the exception to his every rule, and there could be someone else vying for Cas’ ghost hunter role whose morals aren’t so questionable.
Thomas and Carmel’s roles were a little more pronounced in this book, as Thomas’ witch powers are getting stronger and he is capable of casting more spells to protect the trio. Carmel’s dedication to their cause wavers, but the subplot about her doubts wasn’t that significant compared to the search for Anna. It was very much a case of either with Cas or against him, with little middle ground.
I absolutely loved the plot of this book, although I was a little disappointed that Anna doesn’t feature in this book as much as she did in the first book. The story very much belongs to Cas, which may deter some readers, but I still loved the book and was gripped until the last page. I found the ending to be truly heartbreaking, and yet still appropriate for both Cas and Anna, and I love the conclusion that Blake has given her characters.
After falling in love with the first book, this sequel reminded me of why I love the series so much, with Blake’s writing pulling me in all over again. Cas’ goal to retrieve Anna from Hell left me despairing for his apparent suicide mission but also hopeful that he would be reunited with his beautiful and vengeful ghost. The ending was truly heartbreaking, but also understandable, with there being some horrific moments along the way.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Anna Dressed in Blood
- Girl of Nightmares
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