Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
I typically shy away from any sort of stories that aim to be scary or full of horror. I don't have the stomach for it, and my overactive imagination usually twists these tales into things that keep me from being able to sleep at night. However in the last year, I discovered Kendare Blake's chilling Anna Dressed in Blood and I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn't just blood and frights, but an actual character driven story and it was great. So when the sequel finally hit my local library's shelves, I couldn't wait to read Girl of Nightmares.
It's been several months since Cas has said goodbye to Anna Karlov, the cursed ghost he fell in love with and who sacrificed herself to save him and his friends. Moving on is proving to be damn near impossible, especially since Cas is having horrific visions and nightmares, seeing Anna everywhere in the most gruesome ways. He knows something has gone terribly wrong, that the girl he loves has ended up in a twisted Hell, and despite what everyone else says, he believes there has to be a way to make things right again.
Blake does a great job with this book of building off what we already know. We learn more about the mysteries that surround the ancient knife Cas's family has used for generations to to kill unruly ghosts, and this story isn't just about his relationship with Anna, but with his Mom, Gideon, and Carmel and Thomas. Cas may be the hunter, but what he does effects so many others, and I loved that this theme got more attention in this book. There were plenty of moments that gave me goosebumps and situations that made me squirm - exactly what a horror story should do, but it wasn't so much that a pansy like me was put off.
My only criticism of the book is the ending - it came too soon. The majority of the novel is a really fantastic build up to one event, but then to me the event came and went disproportionally fast and the ending was just there. Perhaps there is to be a third book in this series (as of now, there's nothing listed on Goodreads to suggest that), in which case, this choice will make more sense. If not, then I'll just say the conclusion felt a bit rushed to me, especially since the story takes a great pace of setting things up.
If you like horror and ghost stories that aren't anything like Casper's friendly fare, Kendare Blake's books are for you. And even if you're not into scary books, I say give it a shot. As I said, I'm a lightweight when it comes to horror, but there's more to the story going on here than just gore.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
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