Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake


October 29, 2012 by Heidi

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake book coverTitle: Girl of Nightmares [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Kendare Blake [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Second/last book in the Anna duology.
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Published: August 7th, 2012 by Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover; 332 pages.
Source: ARC copy gifted from the lovely Jasmine.
Spoilers!: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for Anna Dressed in Blood, proceed with caution or go read that first!

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.

Alas, my dreams of Cas finding a long lost brother of wit and sexiness with whom to hunt ghosts were crushed when I picked up Girl of Nightmares.  Luckily, I skipped the bad narration this time and opted to read the text which made every character more tolerable.  I was nervous going in having read a lot of mixed reviews of Girl of Nightmares.  Some really liked it, some hated it, but for the most part everyone agreed that it wasn’t as good as the first.  I was wondering what would win out.  The disappointment in the not-quite-as-good story, or my newfound enjoyment of the characters now that they weren’t being vocally mutilated.

So, here are the pros and cons of Girl of Nightmares as I saw them:

Pros Cons
London and Scotland No real body count
Good resolution Mopey Cas
Secret society Kind of slow…
Weeping Angels (ish) Not enough (scary) Anna

I could go on, but as you can see the Pros, while nice fun things, are a bit outweighed by the Cons.  And honestly I stopped there because the Cons list was going to start getting longer.  I liked Girl of Nightmares well enough, but it didn’t blow my socks off.  It did sort of help me realize that maybe I’m not the horror wimp I’ve always thought myself.  I’ve come to the conclusion that while I do not like being scared, it’s also hard to scare me.  A lot of my friends who love horror seem to scare much more easily than I.  Or maybe there was just too much buildup for me that spoiled the ‘scary’ part of Girl of Nightmares.  Either way, it didn’t phase me, and as it wasn’t as brutal as the first one, I didn’t have that to fascinate me either.

I was very happy with the ending that Kendare Blake wrote for Cas, Anna, Thomas, Carmel, and all the rest.  For me, the series went from a nice backwoods ghost hunter story to something larger involving ritual cults and a history bigger than we could have imagined in Anna Dressed in Blood.  I understand the reason for this development, but at the same time, it just wasn’t as gritty as I’d like anymore.  Certainly worth reading for those who enjoyed the first, but if you skipped it it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  I pretty much think Kendare Blake is awesome, even if I didn’t totally fall for either of her books thus far, I did quite enjoy them.  I’ll certainly be signing up for whatever she comes up with next!

Recommended for:  I recommend the book to fans of unconventional romance, Buffy, Scooby Doo and Supernatural (obvs).  

Real life repercussions of reading this book:
Notes from Jasmine
Jasmine left me little notes to discover while I was reading!  I loved this, they were little surprises.  Like Carmel would say something like a BAMF and on the next page I’d see Jasmine fist pumping too.  Totally going to do this for books I know are going to friends when I’m through.

Get a second opinion:
The Midnight Garden – “If you enjoy dark humor with your YA ghost stories, you’ve probably been salivating after this book as much as I have. But if you haven’t met Anna yet, what are you waiting for? She’s one ghost you really, really don’t want to make angry.”
Into the Hall of Books – “Girl of Nightmares is a fantastic sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood. I actually enjoyed it more than the first book.”
For Love and Books – “Even if you are like me (a wimp who sleeps with the lights on after something scary!) you will lose yourself in this world and be turning pages as quickly as possible to find what comes next!”

I’ve also reviewed:
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Anna 1)


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  1. elena says:

    i think this is a pretty enjoyable series! it didn’t emotionally resonate with me or anything but i could see where people really loved it/didn’t love it. i enjoyed the ending of this one too, it seemed very fitting and worked well for the series.

    the notes are so cute! i might have to do that too!

    • Heidi says:

      It was a fun little surprise to get the notes. :)

      Yeah, I agree, this series was enjoyable. Not something that’s going to stick with me for a long time, but certainly something I had fun reading.

  2. Out of curiosity, do you mean The Doctor Who Weeping Angels? Or actual angels that weep? (Don’t mind me, I’m a Whovian through and through and relate everything to either Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter.) Anyway, I have to admit that I am SO torn over starting this series! On one hand, I’ve heard really great things about it and on the other, I’m not a huge fan of ghost love stories and I’ve seen plenty of negative reviews to convince me not to pick this up. *sigh* If you liked it though, chances are, I probably will too, so I definitely think I’ll check this out of my library if it’s there the next time I go. Lovely review, Heidi, and I love those notes! I do that all the time too! (My copy of The Fault in Our Stars is highlighted, underlined, and covered with post-its!) 😉

    • OH! And I just got accepted for a trade of Daughter of the Forest, so I am FINALLY going to read it! I can’t wait till it arrives now! 😀

    • Heidi says:

      Um…Keertana, you’re pretty much my FAVORITE EVER as I also relate basically everything to one of those three things. And yes, I meant the Doctor Who Weeping Angels. 😀

      Like I said, this is kind of a take it or leave it series for me. I did enjoy it, but I didn’t absolutely love it. It was fun to read, but I probably won’t really remember it well a year from now. I think you’d probably like it, but wouldn’t completely fall either.

  3. I liked Anna Dressed in Blood well enough, but it didn’t blow my mind. I liked Cas’ personality. I thought some parts were uber creepy (when that boogie-man/ voodoo guy was hiding in the attic, that freaked me out) but the love story was a bit ‘ho hum’ in my opinion. So, I haven’t been in a big rush to read the sequel. Looks like I’ll hold off a bit longer, even though London, Scotland and ritual cults all sound cool:)

    Those little notes your friend left are awesome! I may start doing something like that too!

    • Heidi says:

      Aren’t the notes adorable? I’m totally doing that the next time I read a book I know I’m passing on after. :)

      And yeah, I feel like my feelings of Anna were on par with you. I liked Cas’s personality, but he’s not as much fun in book 2…and honestly the action and violence that I enjoyed in the first book just wasn’t there. A lot of people found this one really creepy, but it was kind of lost on me. Like I said, take it or read it. It’s not a waste of time, but it’s not a must read either.

  4. Ugh, you’re right about the narration in book 1. Carmel’s voice was the worst for me, though Anna’s was just as bad. That cons list is really not making me want to give it a go, but I’m going to anyway as it’s nominated for the Cybils and it should be an easy on to knock off my list:) London/Scotland sounds fun, though!

    • Heidi says:

      Right? It’s SO BAD. Worst narration I think I’ve ever actually sat through the entirety of, which does really say something about the gripping power of the story. This one isn’t a waste of time, it’s quick and fun, but it probably won’t knock your socks off either. Good luck with Cybils reads–I commend you!

  5. “I’m not the horror wimp I’ve always thought myself” Bah! I wish I could say the same about myself. I can’t tell you often I dove under the covers to hide in ANNA. I picked up Girl of Nightmares from the library, so here’s hoping I like it a lot more than people say they did. And now I’m going to go stalk your friend Jasmine. Maybe she’s as cool as you.

    • Heidi says:

      Jasmine is awesome! She’s totally fun and sweet and shares all the good books.

      Hehe, if you got that scared during Anna, GoN may freak you out more! I’m excited to see the results. It’s worth reading, it really is, but I wouldn’t go in expecting to love it.

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.