Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I’ll admit to being totally surprised to find out that a sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood was coming out. The first novel seemed to end on a pretty definitive note, and the loose ends in the story were all tied up. And yet here we are, with a new novel on the horizon. Girl of Nightmares is an interesting follow-up, but it’s very different in tone and content from the original.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“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 favor.”
Readers looking for the same type of love story that was offered in the first novel will be disappointed. Anna isn’t in this book much, and when she is, it isn’t in the same way as before. The apparitions that Cas sees can interact with him very little, and so there isn’t exactly a relationship to chronicle. That’s not to say that there isn’t a connection between them at all; on the contrary, the two characters are connected as strongly as ever. It’s just that circumstances don’t really give them the opportunity for romance.
What readers will get is more of a focus on Cas and his ghost hunting abilities. It was touched on briefly in the first book, before Cas gets so wrapped up in Anna and her story, but here we get more depth. There’s a lot about the others in the world who might be pursuing the same goals as Cas, and the history of those people gets explored. The author obviously has a broader worldview in mind, and we get a taste of that in this novel. It does make me wonder if there will be a book after this one, because there seems to be much more to be explored. I liked these glimpses into ghost hunting and those who take on that challenge, and I hope to see more of it someday.
Cas’s friends, Thomas and Carmel, get to flex their magical muscles in this one as well. I appreciated this, because Cas spends a lot of time during the book’s early chapters not doing much. Oh, he does go out and do some ghost hunting, but emotionally he’s kind of stuck in one place. There’s a lot of “I must help Anna, but I can’t help Anna, but I must help Anna…” Eventually, he does start moving in a direction that gets something done, but it does take a while.
There are some truly creepy images and scenes in this book. I have to give credit to Blake for cooking up some things that should give readers a chill or two. The visions of Anna in torment gave me the willies, because we see Anna in her “innocent form”, without her powers and terrifying cursed aspect. The poor girl gets killed in a variety of ways, all of them designed to be torturous. And there’s a scene later on with dead bodies that I won’t spoil, but I guarantee you, it’s intense.
This book felt a little odd to me, but that’s because I truly wasn’t expecting a sequel. Taking this book on its own merit, though, it has a lot to recommend it; however, I will warn readers not to go into it thinking that it follows the same tone as the first one. Girl of Nightmares is a unique follow-up to a novel that was itself unique, finding new ground in a story that moves beyond the end of life and triggers new beginnings.