Thursday 13 November 2014

Book Review - Girl of Nightmares

Girl of Nightmares
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #2
Genres: Paranormal, Horror | Young Adult
Release Date: 7th March 2013
Publishers: Orchard Books
No. Pages: 383
Source: Purchased
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
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 favour.

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

A lot can happen in a year. You can get pregnant and have a baby. You can get a new job, move across the world and buy a new car. You can even development health issues or have accident, so it's no surprise that a person can change in many ways over the period of a year, it is, as we would expect, to be expected, but what happens you question whether it's you that's changed, or whether it's a series' style that's changed, what happens then? That's how I feel about my experience reading Girl of Nightmares. Have I changed that much in the last year that I must have been easily swayed when reading Anna Dressed in Blood, or did the duology in fact take a nose dive and not continue with it's features that I loved? I guess we'll have to find out..

Girl of Nightmares takes place a few months after the end of Anna Dressed in Blood and with this being revealed early on, I had expected a good deal more development to have taken place between the characters and their relationships. I appreciated how much closer Cas and Thomas had become, considering each other something close to best friends, and even like brothers in a way, brought up in a world they may not have wanted, but were chosen for, yet I was a tad irritated by the lack of progress between Thomas and Carmel. Hello people, you've been 'dating' for a few months now, not want to, I don't know, make it official maybe? This was a personal quirk, but still, it didn't help when the actual plot itself didn't get off to a great start, or actually improve as time went on. There was no 'thrown in at the deep end feel' like there was with Anna Dressed in Blood, there was no eerie feel throughout and as plots go, there really wasn't much of any and that disappointed me. I was reading and waiting and being a little unnerved and then waiting a little more, and what action we did get that resembled anything like we had in the first installment was saved for the last 40 pages.. What I am is not impressed. I was enthralled and amazed at how well Blake had moved me onto horror styled reads with Anna, I was scared and frightened, but couldn't stop wanting to read, but Girl of Nightmares didn't hold the same influence, and came close to actually not being finished.

The issue for me was the lack there of of Anna and the fact the plot and twists felt, well, unnecessary. I don't have an issue with introducing new sections to series, I think it can benefit a series when more information is given, but in Girl of Nightmares, introducing cults and focusing more time and effort on the atheme rather than, I don't know, actually spending time with Anna and focusing on her, it really didn't sit comfortably with me, and that's a huge shame. For a series focused on the ghost of a dead girl, there sure was very little actual Anna time, and I hadn't realised just how much of Anna Dressed in Blood relied on Anna's character; she brought a eerie sense of decay and rot, she brought a fantastic badass, scary as hell, don't-get-on-the-wrong-side-of-her feel and I must have absolutely adored that, because when it was in this novel, it was utterly fantastic, but that's the issue, it was hardly there at all, and that disappointed me. Cas' character also lost an awful lot of his mojo in this installment, he went from being a ghost hunter in love with a ghost, which I can handle, to a moping, whining, angry, hormonal teenager arguing with adults because he wants his girlfriend back. I wanted horror, I wanted something to keep me up at night with fear, I wanted dark and dangerous and something to make me fear the darkness, but I didn't really get through, either through Anna, through Cas, or through the atmosphere. There was a serious something lacking in this novel, and it really really damaged the experience..

But I can't be entirely negative; what scenes were scary and enthralling and enticing were fantastic, they had that fear, that darkness, that sense of the paranormal and unnatural and they really did bring back what Anna brought to the table, even the touches of Anna that were in the novel in Cas' dreams and nightmares were really well written, so well I could imagine them as clear as daylight and this really made what were great scenes absolutely amazing scenes, there just weren't enough of them. I was also impressed by the emotions and the romance between Cas and Anna when they were finally reunited, I thought the feelings were honest and raw, I thought what Blake did to make Anna both a scary figure capable of utterly destroying someone, and but a teenager, but a child, was really clever, it made me somebody to fear and somebody to admire, for her strength, for her character and for the person Cas helped her become. I can't say that I was highly impressed by her ending, it did feel as though those handful of pages really didn't make up for what was disappointing, but they were definitely enjoyable. I also enjoyed seeing Thomas and Carmel develop and grow throughout this installment, especially Thomas, who not only developed in his skills, but in his strength and his general character; he definitely wasn't a weak character, he had strength both emotionally and physically was definitely a wonderful highlight to this novel, and to see one romance come up trumps was worth it.

Girl of Nightmares is definitely, in my opinion, no where near as fantastic as Anna Dressed in Blood. It felt different and at times, felt like it didn't need to exist. I stand by my thoughts that Blake could have wrapped up Anna differently and would never have needed to create this sequel, but I can't deny that meeting these characters again, experiencing more of the world that encouraged me into the more horror-like, paranormal reads, was enjoyable, because it was, and meeting Anna again and giving her some sort of happiness, at least I hope there's happiness involved, I was definitely a little lighter in heart at the end than I was in the beginning. Would I recommend you read it? I can't say I think that reading this sequel is a must, but if you're as attached to Anna as I was, it might be worth the time to see her 'happy' ending..


  1. I do think that Cas morphed into this whiny being without Anna around and it was just so annoying! Definitely liked him better in the first one, although he does evolve as a character by the end of the book. It's weird how Anna wasn't in it much, but I did like the horror elements in this one too. Wonderful review Amanda!

    1. Oh I definitely agree Jeann, Cas did change a lot and it was such a shame, because the horror elements were so good!


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