Three and a half stars: A follow up that lacks the edge of your seat feel that excelled in Anna Dressed in Blood.
It has been a few months since Cas' shocking and terrifying confrontation with the Obeahman. Cas cannot shake the attachment he has to Anna, especially after her final heroic, self sacrificing act to save him and the others. He constantly worries that Anna is okay, but soon everywhere he looks he thinks he is seeing glimpses of Anna, and she is in torment. Cas becomes reckless and is losing his grip on reality, despite the attempts of Carmel, Thomas, his mother and Morfran to ground him back into reality. Cas cannot let Anna go. If she is in trouble, he feels it is his duty to save her, even if that means taking a trip to the other side, into the depths of Hell. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the slightest clue how to get there, that is until the secret order responsible for creating his anthame comes calling. They have their own ulterior motives, but are willing to help Cas open the door to save Anna, that is if he is willing to pay the price. Will Cas pay the hefty price in order to save the ghostly girl who has her clutches on his heart?
What I Liked:
*I was thrilled to see all of the cast from Anna Dressed in Blood not only return for the sequel, but all of them have a more significant role. I was excited to get to know Morfran a bit better in this book. He is so interesting and entertaining, I think Ms. Blake could write an entire book in his voice. Thomas and Carmel are back as well, and this time they are Cas' ever present helping hands in ghost hunting. Carmel is fierce, funny and headstrong, while Thomas is loyal and helpful with his spells and mind reading abilities. I enjoyed the way Thomas was always sneaking into Cas' head. I was delighted to see that Thomas and Carmel were a couple, although their relationship status was not thoroughly detailed.
*I liked that this book gives us a bit more insight into the anthame. The reader learns of its origins and more about its powers.
*I appreciated Cas' growth. He is resolved to putting down some roots in Thunder Bay, accepting the help of his new friends, and determined to do the right thing. I liked that even under duress he refuses to kill ghosts that are doing no harm, despite the objections of the Order. He sticks to his guns and doesn't give in. I also admired his determination to see things through with Anna, even if that meant a huge sacrifice. Cas has quickly become one of my favorite male leads, next to Ethan of The Caster's Chronicles.
*I love that this series steps away from love triangles and cliff hangers. Both books have neat resolutions with dangling threads for new possibilities. I am not sure if there will be a third book in this series, but if there is, it will certainly take a new direction. I personally hope the series continues, as I want to see Cas get his happy ending.
*I love that this book is peppered with funny one liners and numerous witty comments.
*On a side note, the cover of this book is absolutely stunning. I love it!
And The Not So Much:
*My biggest complaint for this book was the pacing. I started this expecting a fast paced, thrilling and scary read, but I was disappointed to find that this book lacked that thick, frightening tension that I loved in Anna Dressed in Blood. Don't get me wrong there are some exciting, scenes, such as the trip through the Suicide Forest, but overall *I just didn't get the same adrenaline rush. This book takes awhile to get going as well. However, that being said, it does build to an exciting finale.
*I missed Anna. For the most part she is just a background character. In the beginning she flitters in and out briefly as a spectre who haunts Cas, but she for the most part is absent from the story until the end. Her character is so engaging and fascinating that I kept hoping she would appear to liven things up, but alas, she doesn't.
*There is a new introduction, Jestine, and she seems to be a girl who can go toe to toe with Cas and give him a run for his money, but she remains a mystery and I was left with so many questions regarding this girl, I can only hope that she will make another appearance in subsequent books.
*Again, I was disappointed that Cas' mother still is not fleshed out. She is a gifted witch and I get the impression she had so much to bring to the table, but she is relegated to playing the mother role. I want to know her secrets, more about her witch gifts and so on.
*I wish that the relationship between Thomas and Carmel was a bit more defined. It seems they are romantically involved but then again their relationship certainly doesn't fit into the normal parameters of a romantic involvement. I liked this and I didn't. I would have liked to know more. In the end, it seems they are destined to be together, but don't expect passion and fiery kisses!
Girl of Nightmares was a fun and exciting read, even though it lacked a bit of the suspense and terror that was so prominent in its predecessor, Anna Dressed in Blood. I loved that Ms. Blake is willing to take risks with the way she depicts her romantic relationships and her new plot directions. This is a great series, that I hope to see continue. Cas and company make a terrific team and undoubtedly there are many evil ghosts just waiting to meet his deadly anthame.
“For a professional ghost killer, you sure ask a lot of numb-nut questions.”
“I question him about feasibility, he smiles at me like he’s Yoda and I’m just a dumbass without the Force.”
“Gideon smiles at her, but the smile is like an ice pick. It’s real but not real, and the thought crosses my mind that this Jestine isn’t Gideon’s niece at all, but his girlfriend or something. But that’s not right. That actually makes me want to throw up a little.”
“The words have built up in my throat, and if I open my mouth I’m going to heave for who knows how long.”
“But even now I feel the lake over my shoulder, sitting still and sinister as the yawning jaws of a trap. I much prefer Superior, with her waves and rages. She doesn’t keep her violence a secret.”
“You can’t rinse the cult off a person in only a couple of days.”
“We don’t belong here. Wherever it is, it is the lack of everything. No light, no darkness. No air or taste. It’s nothing a void.”
“I don’t want to think anymore. My eyes might pop and run out of my head. I might break my skull against the bottom and listen to the empty pieces, wobbling like the discarded shell of an egg.”
“This place is the thing behind madness. There is nothing good here. Off the map. If you eat frustration it chokes you. This place exists in the wake of a scream.”
Note: The quotations are taken from an ARC copy. They may vary from the final version. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinion expressed are my own and I received no compensation. A big thanks to Alexis over at Tor Teen for the review copy.
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