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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: Girl of Nightmares

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
Amazon | AudibleGoodreads
Sci-fi-Fantasy/Horror, 336 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Tor Teen
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'm going to do my best to avoid spoilers of both Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares, but just in case spoiler potential would keep you from reading my review(s), here's the gist: You should go buy these. Even if you don't like horror, even if you don't like urban legends, even if you don't like YA or romance or contemporary or mysteries or ghost stories and gore, or any of the things that make up this book, you should really have these on your shelves. Or better yet, in your hands. I'm not even kidding, and I rarely tell people to buy things. But this is for serious.

Now, as for the review:

My initial review on Goodreads, upon finishing Girl of Nightmares in the middle of the night was something like this:
Remember when The Doctor sent Rose through to the other world? That feeling.
I feel bereft.
And it's true, I really did feel sort of bereft, like I had lost something that wasn't coming back. There was no more. This is the end. [See, this is why I am so bad about finishing series'; this is why I've had Monsters of Men, the last book of the Chaos Walking series, sitting on my shelves since May of 2010. I just couldn't...] And it wasn't just the fact that the duology is over that left me feeling this way, but the things that happen; Blake does a commendable job of ripping my heart out, squeezing it a time or two, and then putting it back. Anna would be proud. It's bittersweet and exactly right (see, these are happy tears), and I admire so much that Kendare always gives the right ending, the ending that needs to be, even if it means going some places others would avoid, or giving an ending that might not make all readers happy.

And I respect that this is it. The characters will now go about their lives (or lack thereof) without us peeping in, and anything else that may come of them is left to our imaginations. I appreciate this. A lot of authors would have dragged a series like this out to infinity, especially considering some of the new ground Blake covered in this - there's a lot there that could be mined for many books to come, so I respect that Blake looks at it, says, 'No, this is complete and any prolonging would just weaken it,' and is done. I applaud that (even while it makes me frowny-faced, and even if I would buy and read every consecutive book, complaining all the while that the series probably should have ended on a strong note X books ago...)

And speaking of new ground, Girl of Nightmares went some places I didn't expect. I mean, I didn't really know what to expect, honestly, but I certainly wasn't expecting what I got. The story and the world is really broadened in this (which could easily be seen as a set-up for future books, which is why I respect even more that it's not - she still took the time to broaden the story and give us something new), and there were resolutions to things that I didn't realize really needed them. All of it together just worked.I did want more Anna, but I think that's just because I'm enamored of her.  There's something special about her as a character, and about her relationship with Cas, that you just don't get in other books, and so I couldn't help but want more of that. That being said, at the same time, I couldn't help but think she was in it exactly the right amount.

The creepy times are not as frequent in this, but those that were there honestly freaked me out more than anything in Anna. Books don't scare me, and I rarely have nightmares, but when I do...well, there's a scene in here that pretty much nailed it. It was startling and skin-crawlingly shudder-worthy, perfectly designed to get under your skin or have you looking over your shoulder. [I really want to use another DW gif right here, but it would be totes spoilery, so I won't. Or will I...] I also really love that Blake understands peaks and valleys. She knows how to lull you and then startle you with something, and she's not afraid of viscera (which helps in creating a visceral reaction... See what I did there?) I have to applaud Blake for this, because I think there are a lot of authors in the horror genre that just try to slam you with non-stop startles and ick, and end up becoming really predictable and burning you out. Blake doesn't do fall into that trap, and I like her storytelling so much more as a result. [Pauses to look back at review of Anna Dressed in Blood, sees that I talked about "judicious gore" and "peaks and valleys" then too. Realizes this is indicative of a pattern in Blake's writing, which bodes well for ALL THE BOOKS. Is pleased.]

And so, I guess I want to end this the way I began it: I don't generally tell people what to buy. It's your money, waste it on whatever you'd like. But buying the Anna books would be so far from a waste of your money that if you're not in line at the bookstore or adding them to your online shopping cart right now, I have to wonder to myself what you're doing with your life? I mean, you trust me, don't you? Would I lie to you?
[No. The answer is no.]

If you need more convincing, check out my 2nd awesome interview with Kendare!


  1. This is a fantastic review :) Yes to everything! I love this book!

  2. Wow. I officially HAVE to get this book now. Thanks so much for the review! I always thought that this book looked good but now I'm convinced of its awesomeness. (And the Doctor Who vid/clip made it that much more heartbreaking for me to imagine NOT reading this book..nice choice!) So thank you for finally making that choice for me because I hadn't been sure about this book until now! Wonderful review!

  3. Awesome, Nichole! Hope you like it!

    And that Doctor Who gif...there's a reason, and IT GIVES ME FEELS.

  4. OMG Misty, I CAN'T HANDLE THAT FEELING! The unbearable parting? I just can't.

    I actually really appreciate when authors don't run things into the ground and leave while things are still good--so I'm both excited and sad to start this one (which is sitting on my nightstand calling to me as we speak). I'm so glad you loved it, even if it was hard...(and btw I have a total fear of statues so you can imagine my DW nightmares).

  5. Don't worry, Heidi, no statues, though...something that made the Weeping Angels IMMEDIATELY come to mind...


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