Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sara's Library: Girl of Nightmares

I had an unexpected hospital stay, which has delayed a number of my posts.  I'm going to try to get at least two up a week until I'm caught up, but a friend just asked me to critique his manuscript, so I'm not sure how I'll be dividing my time just yet.

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
Sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood
Tor Teen 2012

Summary from Goodreads: "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."

Review: Readers will remember that when I picked up Anna Dressed in Blood, I had rather low expectations but ended up enthralled with the characters and story.  I am happy to say that Girl of Nightmares is a worthy successor and conclusion.

As stated in the description, Cas is seeing Anna everywhere, but it's after a ghostly encounter that endangers both Thomas and Carmel that Cas decides that something must be done.  His intuition tells him that Anna is not properly at rest, and cryptic statements made by Thomas's uncle, Morfran, and Gideon, Cas's advisor, lead him to believe that Anna is in Hell.

While the adults in Cas's life warn him not to meddle with the afterlife and move on, Thomas and Carmel support his decision to investigate Anna's whereabouts and free her, if necessary.

Ms. Blake continues to write a likeable Buffy-esque gang of ghost hunters, who manage to deal with normal teen problems while juggling their eerie escapades.  With this installment taking place over summer vacation, we get less of Cas's interaction with the general student body and more of his growing friendship with the unlikely couple Thomas and Carmel.  As with the first book, Ms. Blake shows a penchant for writing sarcastic, disaffected teens.

New character Jestine, raised by a British cult, is a great foil to Cas, who never asked for the power and responsibility of the athame.  She also provides fresh perspective on the task at hand, as she is not affiliated with Cas and has motives of her own for crossing the threshold to Hell.  Her presence definitely raises the stakes.  The book wouldn't likely have been a flop without the Jestine subplot, but it's certainly greater for her presence.

The ending offers an unexpected resolution where Anna is concerned, but leaves room for further adventures with Cas and the gang should Ms. Blake choose to deliver them.

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