by Kendare Blake
Anna Dressed in Blood duology; book II
I'm uber-enthusiastic about Anna Dressed in Blood because it was so unique and interesting... I even went back and reread half of the book in preparation for the sequel. That's dedication.
Also, that cover. One of my favourites.
***The summary contains spoilers for book one***
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.
I feel the need to reiterate the fact that Cas has a knife. And he’s a boy. And boys with knives are sexy*.
I’ve been anticipating this sequel for quite a while because there’s something I really adore about this series that I can’t fully understand, whether it is the killer covers (it probably is) or the fantastic packaging (the text is dark red!), but really, I think it’s just because it’s kind of different, and it’s presented as such.
Girl of Nightmares was very good; here were so many parts that had me excited but it wasn’t all a smooth road. I thought in general, the pacing was off because there is a lot of build up before action really starts happening. There’s nothing wrong with build up but there was a bit too much exposition and fact-finding in the first half and not enough ass kicking. I could have done with a few more plot twists, while you’re at it.
What kept me reading though, was Cas, who is still one of the most endearing (and smart-aleck-y) narrators (an odd word choice, but nevertheless spoken with genuineness). There’s something about that boy that I love; his voice is super conversational, I like that he swears, and that he’s haunted by the girl he loves who’s dead.. I find that oddly romantic. I liked that Thomas and Carmel (something akin to Ron and Hermione) got more development as well, which was a step up from the first book. That said, apart from the trio and maybe two or three others, the rest of the characters were quite one-dimensional, which could be due to lack of screen time.
Also, I really really love Anna for no particular reason. I just really do.
For the horror aspect, I wasn’t too creeped out but I thought Blake did do well with creating tense atmospheres and has a talent for gruesome descriptions. I know many readers loved that it’s a horror book, and I think it’s a great addition to a genre that’s less prevalent in YA. I’d also love to throw it into the action genre because I thought that the fight scenes were consistently exciting and well written (and I wanted more!)
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: horror fans! and well, fans of cool creepy books that are different
8.7/10 – because while I think Girl of Nightmares has several flaws, I was still thoroughly entertained by Cas and the plot. It doesn’t exactly count as a horror, but I guess I’d categorize it as a horror-action-lite type thing, because it took its time to develop some creepiness. I thought the pacing could have been better but the endearing characters and solid writing kept me engaged. A fun (that might be slightly light-hearted), unique, and highly recommended sequel!
*that is, if they’re not controlling, possessive, emotionally abusive
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