Review: Girl of Nightmares-Kendare Blake

3/5 Stars

Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)- Kendare Blake

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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.

PROS:

  • 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.

CONS:

  • 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.

If you liked the following books or TV series, you’d probably enjoy this:

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Happy reading,

-BB

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood- Kendare Blake

4/5 Stars

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)- Kendare Blake

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“I’m not a superhero,” I say. It’s an awful tag. It’s egotistical, and it doesn’t fit. I don’t parade around in spandex. I don’t do what I do and receive accolades and keys to cities. I work in the dark, killing what should have stayed dead. If people knew what I was up to, they’d probably try to stop me. The idiots would take Casper’s side, and then I’d have to kill Casper and them after Casper bit their throats out. I’m no superhero. If anything I’m Rorschach from Watchmen. I’m Grendel. I’m the survivor in Silent Hill.

I’m not afraid of the dark; I’ve always slept like a rock, and I’ve been in more than my share of dim and dangerous places. I’ve seen most of what there is to be afraid of in this world, and to tell you the truth, the worst of them are the ones that make you afraid in the light. The things that your eyes see plainly and can’t forget are worse than huddled black figures left to the imagination. Imagination has a poor memory; it slinks away and goes blurry. Eyes remember for much longer.

I adore ghost stories. I’m the girl who is genuinely thrilled to curl up on the average Saturday and watch reruns of Paranormal Witness, Ghost Hunters International, Supernaturaland/or American Horror Story. I love horror films and even know a few ghost hunters myself. So when I stumbled upon the creepy black and white cover for Anna Dressed in Blood that seemed to be oozing blood from the pops of color on the cover to the rusty red print of the text itself, I was more excited than I’ve been in a long time. While YA is chuck full of supernatural beings there’s a serious shortage in the ghosts/poltergeists department. So if you’ve been searching for something a little different and very scary look no further and check this out.

Plot:
Cas Lowood is not your average teenage boy. While some guys focus their efforts on getting the hottest girl in school to go out with them or making the football team, Cas never stays in one place for too long because he can’t afford to become attached to anything and especially not anyone. Cas is a ghost hunter spurred into action not only by his blood but by an all consuming hungering for vengeance. Cas’ father was a legendary ghost hunter who lost the battle to a cannibalistic entity of unimaginable power. Since he found out his father was gnawed on, he researched and made it his mission to hunt down the creature that robbed him of his father much too young. When Cas gets a letter in the mail written in human blood informing him about a volatile spirit named Anna who slaughters everyone who enters her old Victorian house, he knows without a doubt that this threat is real and just the sort of warm up he needs to move on to the creature that killed his father. Cas and his mother pack up and head to Canada with their cat and his mother’s portable magic supply. Cas’ mother is a white witch who has a steady business of infused candles and homeopathy. Cas immerses himself into the local high school eager for tales of mysterious hauntings. Late one night at a drunken high school party, after cozying up to Carmel, the most popular girl in school, a group of jocks who pretend to be friendly hit him over the head with a board and drag him into Anna’s house. His head bleeding profusely, he is startled by dripping, he lifts his head and faces Anna, her white gown soaked through with blood, steadily dripping across the floor. The girl before him is something of nightmares, black veins twisting up her body, black eyes locked with his. For some reason Anna spares him and moves on to the jock that knocked him unconscious, reaching into his body and tearing him to pieces. Cas knows he must destroy Anna but something about her makes him hesitate. With his unlikely band of friends, the prom queen(Caramel), the goth(Thomas), and a black witch (Thomas’grandfather), Cas struggles through his conflicted feelings about Anna, and faces a danger unlike any he’s encountered before.

PROS:

  • The author very obviously did her research on the magical and medicinal purposes of herbs and the purification rituals of Wiccan culture as well as voodoo practitioners. This was fascinating and I found myself researching their uses for fun.
  • Often in YA recently, the popular crowd is depicted as a group of evil bullies who enjoy tormenting those who are different. The protagonist is usually the outsider, a unique somewhat insecure person who has a hard time fitting in. Carmel is a leggy, tan bombshell of a blonde who is also the most popular girl in school. It is so refreshing to see the it girl as a genuine sweetheart who is nice to everyone.
  • Cas is a wonderful mixture of Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural. He’s sexy, witty, exudes confidence, but is also unsure when it comes to matters of the heart.
  • Anna’s story is a tragic bloody mess of loss and longing that will win your heart a thousand times over.
  • CONS:
  • Several sections felt convoluted. Especially during the action scenes, there were so many things thrown in at once that it was a bit of a confusing mess.
  • Some of the humor fell flat and was a little awkward.
  • Near the end of the book, some of the voodoo elements could have been explained more in depth. The black cross wasn’t clarified in regards to its purpose and the voodoo practitioner that wasn’t really voodoo because they take energy into themselves rather than create it…this section was a bunch of names without any real explanation into what exactly they are and how much they differ from regular voodoo. It was stuffed into two or three small paragraphs.
  • The gore wasn’t as descriptive as it could have been. I would have liked more detail. Just a teeny bit more of this would have made the story a lot more terrifying. The lack of detail detracted from the sheer magnitude of the horror, it was as if it was glanced over but not brought into focus.
  • If you liked any of the following, you’d enjoy this:20130701-184759.jpg

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    Happy reading,

    -BB