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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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.