Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)- Kendare Blake
He’s saying that the other side of the athame is Anna’s Hell? No. The knife is the knife. It fits in my hand. On the other side of the knife is…the other side of the knife. But this hunch is all we have to go on, and every time I question him about feasibility, he smiles at me like he’s Yoda and I’m just a dumbass without the Force.
To say that I was merely disappointed with Girl of Nightmares would be an understatement. I was enraptured by the first book in the series, Anna Dressed in Blood. I loved it so much that I recommended it more than any other book I’ve ever read, it also inspired me to start writing my own horror YA. ADIB was a wonderful mix of blood, gore, ghosts, voodoo, and felt a lot like Supernatural. I was obsessed. The fact that the first in the series was also a love story…I was amazed by the creative plot, and the connection between Anna and Cas. It was funny, haunting, and just a joy to read. Girl of Nightmares was average; it lacked the witty, carefree humor (when it happened) of the first book, the occasional gore, and while it was more complex was nowhere near as terrifying.
If you’d like to read my review on Anna Dressed in Blood click here —> Anna Review
If you haven’t read the first book the following plot section will be a little spoilery.
Plot: After the devastating conclusion of Anna Dressed in Blood Cas is heartbroken. Fueled by guilt and desperate determination to save Anna from the pits of Hell, and the wrath of the voodoo practicing, flesh-eating monster of the first book, Cas feels like he is getting nowhere fast and he becomes consumed with saving Anna but only increases his efforts after she starts appearing because before that he truly didn’t believe there was anything he could do. Anna pops up in visions of lifelike clarity, where she is suffering, forced to kill herself, she is bloody, brutalized, and a picture of gory torment. After Cas establishes that he isn’t going crazy, he realizes that Anna is making a cry for help. Before this point, Cas had hoped that Anna’s soul would land a prime spot in heaven after the horrible circumstances of her previous life but after seeing her burned alive he knows the truth. Anna is most definitely in Hell or purgatory and the beast that murdered his father has her held as a prisoner. Meanwhile, Carmel and Thomas continue their somewhat normal lives and have no trouble getting back into their monotonous high school life even though they can see Cas is struggling. They both fear for Cas’s sanity but don’t really know how to help him. After contacting Gideon and talking to Thomas’ guardian about Anna he is warned time and again that he is sticking his nose into places he doesn’t belong and that there are others watching his movements, that this path of action is dangerous and likely life threatening. Cas, of course, doesn’t care, Anna is the love of his life, and to leave her at the mercy of that twisted killer is not something he could live with. Several mysteries and plot twists later, Cas, Thomas, Carmel, Gideon, and some new characters wind up in first England, then Scotland, on a foolhardy quest into a very secret, ancient druidic order. Cas is told that he must pay a price to save Anna but what price is too high for the woman he loves? As his world starts to dim around him, his only thoughts are of Anna, and if he will have enough time to save her from eternal damnation.
- Anna and Cas’s love is epic. It’s weird, yes, definitely unorthodox, but so perfect. Who better for a ghost hunter to fall in love with than a ghost he’s been sent to kill? Anna is unbelievably powerful, headstrong, and enduring. She pulls through the tragedy of her past, and finds it within herself to love Cas with all of her soul. Cas is jaded. He never really believed that love was in the cards for him with his profession. Anna changes everything for him, he learns to trust in love, to make the ultimate sacrifices, and what it means to let go in order to fully move on. For years, his father’s murder has haunted him, and it’s ironic that it is a haunting that helps him recover.
- The inclusion druidic magic, beliefs, and ritual was wonderfully done. The use of folklore, and doctrines of faith was beautifully merged with concepts of physics, science, and warring philosophies, especially when it comes to the classification of good, and evil, and what that entails for the afterlife.
- Carmel and Thomas. Carmel’s conflicting emotions with her previous life of popularity, with set goals and plans for the future, and her supernatural life with Thomas, is multilayered, and full of confusion. She is pulled both ways and doesn’t know what to choose, her heart or her head. It’s classic but perfect.
- Jestine (Jess) is the infuriating little know-it-all sibling that irks you no matter how much you love her. She is a great balance to the Thomas, Cas, Carmel trio. She’s stubborn, aggressive, deadly, crafty, witty, and everything you could want in a female character. She was a highlight during some of the slow parts.
- Several times I found myself struggling to continue the story. If I hadn’t loved the first book so much I don’t know that I would have. There were many slow, boring parts that seemed to drag on forever, where nothing really happened, and there was nothing to hold interest.
- The comedy was not as pointed, nor as witty, it fell flat like it sometimes did in the first book but much more often.
- There was less ghost hunting, less gore, blood, and terror in general. This by far was my biggest disappointment. It felt like part of Cas’s identity was missing. He was depressed much like in the way Bella Swan was in New Moon, where several pages just showed the month, and then nothing. This was infuriating because part of Cas’s bad boy, badass charm was that he slays murderous ghosts, and is great at it. Because there weren’t many ghosts there were hardly any ghost stories. UGH. This took away from the overall creepy, haunted, feeling of the book.
- High school drama. What I really enjoyed about ADIB was that it was not centered around high school drama. It was there, definitely, but that was not the main thing. In Girl of Nightmares there is greater focus placed on high school, high school activities, drama, rumors, and all that bs. Just pages, and pages of this stagnant, boring, overdone, high school blah.
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