4.8 out of 5
Written by Kendare Blake and first published in 2012, Girl of Nightmares is the sequel to the paranormal romance novel Anna Dressed In Blood. It centres around the narrating character Theseus Cassio “Cas” Lowood and his life with his friends in the Canadian town of Thunder Bay after his near-death at the hands of the Obeahman from which he was saved by cursed soul Anna. Despite his friends’ attempts to get him to move on from Anna (whom he had to fall in love with, obviously…), Cas soon realises that Anna has been trapped in Hell and sets out on a suicide mission to free her.
I’ll start off by tell you this: this was such a good book.
Not as good as the first book I’ll grant you, but it was still one of the best modern horror-romance novels I’ve read in a while. It’s got the whole structure of “normal person meets supernatural being and falls in love” but it’s got an edge to it that makes it stand out.
Cas is no ordinary normal person. He has drive and passion and kicks arse! He hunts ghosts and shows them who’s boss! Except, he’s lost a lot of drive to do so in this novel since Anna went to Hell. I was a little worried that he was becoming a very love sick boy but he kept on coming with the same wit and humour that I loved in the first book. Plus his dedication to bringing Anna back, though reckless, was morally good as he wanted to save her – she didn’t belong in that Hell and he wanted to get her where she did belong, which he learns at the end of the book is where she is, just out of the control of the Obeahman.
The novel was written smoothly and Cas had an amazing voice. In a first person narrative, the story needs to flow as if you are sat in a room with the character and they are tell you what they went through. That’s what I felt with this story; it felt as though a friend was talking to me. It was comfortable and realistic – even the voices of the other characters were well made. No one character seemed like they were exactly like the other.
However, there were some clichéd tropes that made me literally role my eyes.
The first was the “Popular Girl Falls In Love With Nerdy Boy From A Different ‘Social Class'” trope.
For a part of the book, Carmel annoyed me. Only one little bit. When she acts so coldly towards Thomas instead of just telling him the truth, I wanted to hit her. She was doing it to protect him, but jeez… The guy seems to have plenty of self-esteem issues as it is without having Miss Teen Queen messing with his emotions. So when she explains it all to Cas and says that she doesn’t want to be a part of that part of his life any more, I actually thought ‘yes! A character that’s going to make a choice for themselves and not be stupid!’. For a fair few chapters, you can tell that she isn’t happy, that she regrets making friends with a hunter and a psychic, and I was waiting patiently for her to actually do the smart thing and tell the truth. It was a nice moment and I felt like she really could have moved on. But then she comes back having followed them from Canada to London.
Finding out more about Gideon was a nice touch. Only hearing snippets about him in ADIB, it left me wondering what Gideon’s role was at all in Cas’ life. Why was he there? What was his relation to him? Why did he mentor his father? How did he know so much about the supernatural? It was nearly all answered in this story with the introduction of the super cult obsessed with Cas’ athame. Which leads me to my favourite character.
I really liked Jestine. She was a good character! I feel like if Kendare Blake were to write a spin off or even a third book in the series she should either make it about her and bring her into it more. I liked her dynamic with Cas more than I did Cas and Anna. Romance… I wouldn’t say no, but even if they were just friends and kicking ghost butt that would be an awesome story. Or just more background on her like where are her parents, how was her life before she met Cas, where has she gone now the book is over? Unanswered questions like that getting answered – even just a novella! Anything to give the character more depth and background! She has a whole world of possibilities and it would be a shame for her to go to waste.
I enjoyed the vivid detail and the threatening atmosphere – the Suicide Forest scene freaked me out because it reminded me of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who crossed-over with the Walkers from The Walking Dead… How it was all described was superb. I could feel the tension and it made my heart race.
The entire story was fairly paced – there were times when I questioned why parts were included and the decisions that were being made by the characters but when scenes went well, they went really well.
But, apart from the couple of grammatical errors I found – only two and they were spacing issues really – I really enjoyed this book. The characters weren’t perfect and that’s what made them feel real. I don’t know if I’d travel half way across the globe to find my ex-boyfriend after dumping him so callously, that did seem like a stretch, but it was a good book!