By Kendare Blake
Girl of Nightmares is the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood, which I enjoyed as my palette cleanser after a brutal few months with Atlas Shrugged. Anna Dressed in Blood was an awesome way to recover from Ayn Rand, but wasn’t so engaging that I was intending to read the sequel. However, I was looking for casual reading over the holidays, so I picked it up on a whim at the library, figuring it would be a fun distraction.
And it was! It was actually even better than the first book! My one complaint about Anna Dressed in Blood was awfully vague, just that the pace of the plotting seemed odd to me in a way I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Well, I’ve figured out what the plotting issue was because Girl of Nightmares doesn’t have it at all. So, here’s the thing, I like a very linear storyline: protagonist has a problem, works towards a solutions, and finally succeeds. It is a little simple, perhaps, but that’s how I like it. Anna Dressed in Blood had a lot of red herrings as the protagonist and supporting characters tried to figure out what challenge they were facing and then how to solve it, but this book is more straight-forward.
Girl of Nightmares starts just a couple of months after the end of Anna Dressed in Blood, and picks up the same story, so is definitely not a standalone. I can’t really describe the plot at all without spoiling Anna Dressed in Blood, so I’m not going to do that, beyond saying that the other thing I really like is that this book is sort of the flipside of the first book. The first book follows the protagonist Cas as he hunts murderous ghosts and sends them to the afterlife; in Girl of Nightmares, Cas is trying to bring a ghost back from the afterlife. I just love that kind of mirror-image reversal treatment in sequels!
Cas also travels to London to meet with a group that sounds very similar to the Watcher Council, and any similarity to Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a-okay with me!
By Kendare Blake
This book title jumped out at me in the library months ago (for obvious reasons), but then we started the marathon of reading Atlas Shrugged, so I back-burned it for a while, knowing it was going to be my palette cleanser after Rand. At the worst parts of Atlas Shrugged, I just pictured Anna Dressed in Blood waiting for me. And I couldn’t have asked for a better palette cleanser!
It is cheesy and spooky and just awesome! It reminds me a bit of Twilight, actually, if a better writer had written the characters and situations in a way that makes more sense in a rational world. Also with some gender turnaround: Cas moves to a small town in Ontario with his single mother, starting a new school in his senior year and is immediately popular. Sound familiar? He’s also brooding and rude and immediately drawn to the titular female character. He’s kind of both Bella and Edward, but everything he says and does actually makes sense.
Cas is a ghost hunter, a talent and career that he inherited from his now-deceased father. He and his mother travel to new towns that have killer ghosts, settle there long enough for Cas to draw out and dispatch the ghost, and then move on to the next town. He is immediately popular at his new school because he makes an effort to be; he needs access to the gossip mill as quickly as possible in order to do his job. He knows that by being brooding and a little rude, he’ll be considered even more attractive, so he does that on purpose as well. I just love rational characters who have a goal and then follow logical steps toward it!
I felt like the plot got a bit scattered toward the end; I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the pacing just felt kind of odd to me. Even with that, though, this was a very satisfying book with which to recover from Atlas Shrugged. I would be somewhat cautious about recommending it for young readers: there was a fair amount of violence, and I can’t attest to fear factor because I have already described how I completely unfrightening I find ghosts.