Review: Girl of Nightmares

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. Tor Teen. 2012. Sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood. Reviewed from library copy.

The Plot: Months ago, the ghost Anna Korlov sacrificed herself to save Cas Lowood. His friends and family tell him: she’s gone. Gone wherever it is that ghosts go. Cas wants to believe them, except he keeps seeing her ghost; and she’s in pain.

Cas doesn’t care what his friends and family say. He’s going to find a way to save Anna, to bring her back, no matter what the cost.

The Good: Cas’s mission to hunt and kill dangerous ghosts, like his father before him, is explained in Anna Dressed in Blood, as is how he meets Anna Dressed in Blood, a dangerous ghost. How Anna is both a dangerous murderous ghost and the girl of Cas’s dreams and the ghost who saves him is explained in Anna Dressed in Blood.

Cas’s friends, Carmel and Thomas, want to be supportive of Cas. Problem is, the girl Cas is in love with is a ghost and that ghost is gone wherever it is ghosts go. Thomas is a psychic, from a family of psychics, so in a way he has no choice but to go along with ghost hunting Cas. That said, his grandfather is one of the many warning Cas to leave Anna be. Carmel, on the other hand, is neither psychic nor ghost-hunter, and is there because they are her friends. It’s a bit much to ask, of friends, to not just put themselves in danger hunting dangerous ghosts but also to try to bring back one of the most dangerous ghosts — Anna.

Cas kills ghosts using his athame, a special type of knife. In pushing his mentor, Gideon, for answers, Cas discovers his athame, and ghost-hunting is more involved than he thought. Has a deeper history than he thought.

Girl of Nightmares wraps up the story of Anna Dressed in Blood, while introducing a broader world, including chilling Order of the Biodag Dubh. There is action, adventure, supernatural aplenty, but it’s also an examination of choice. Cas, Thomas, and Carmel, Gideon, even Anna, all have choices to make, and, needless to say, they aren’t easy choices. What is the right thing to do?

Anna Dressed in Blood was about finding and not killing a ghost; Girl of Nightmares is once again about finding a ghost, only this time, it’s not so simple as finding a haunted place. Once again, Cas has to fight the supernatural; he also has to rely on both Carmel and Thomas. He can’t do it alone, no matter how much he thinks he can.

Other reviews: The Book Smugglers; Chasing Ray, for her Bookslut column; Bookshelves of Doom at Kirkus.

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