Sunday, September 16, 2012

Girl of Nightmares Book Review

Author: Kendare Blake. Release date: 2012. Publisher: Tor Teen. ISBN: 9780765328663.

Annotation: After Anna sacrificed herself to save him and his friends, everyone in Cas’ life seems to think it’s best that he just forget the girl who used to be the vicious ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas is convinced, however, that Anna is trapped in Hell, and once he begins having nightmarish visions of Anna being tortured, he knows that he must join her to set her free.   
Personal thoughts: Anna Dressed in Blood was one of my favorite books of 2011 and something I like to recommend to teens who are interested in a good, scary story. I was eagerly anticipating the release of Girl of Nightmares, but was also a little nervous because I have read a few sequels this year that didn’t impress me. Thankfully, Kendare Blake delivered and managed to create a story that, while different from the first, was just as enjoyable! I was very intrigued by Anna’s disappearance, Cas’ uber-creepy visions of her in various stages of torture, and the history and secrets behind Cas’ weapon, the athame. I also was really happy with the the relationship between Cas, Thomas and Carmel, and like that the author doesn’t skim over the support characters but takes the time to let the reader get to know them as well. I haven’t seen anything as far as an announcement about a third Anna novel, but I hope that Kendare Blake decides to keep the story going!
Plot summary: Six months have passed since Anna sacrificed herself to save Cas and his friends, Thomas and Carmel, from the Obeahman: the evil ghost who killed Cas’ father and nearly ended his life as well. Cas doesn’t know where Anna went; where does a ghost go when it dies? Everyone in his life seems to think that he needs to forget Anna. Cas is convinced, however, that Anna is trapped in Hell. When he begins having nightmarish visions of Anna being tortured, he knows in his heart that his suspicions were correct. Determined to find a way to bring Anna back, Cas begins to investigate the origins of his athame: the knife that he, his father before him, and so on have used for centuries to kill vengeful spirits. Unsure of how a living person can cross into Hell without first dying, Cas soon learns that the answers he’s seeking might lie in the very tool he uses to send ghosts on to the afterlife. But how far is Cas willing to go to save the girl who saved his life and with whom he has fallen in love?
Review: Kendare Blake continues her sharp and scary series with Girl of Nightmares, the sequel to the 2011 best-selling novel, Anna Dressed in Blood. Oftentimes, books that achieve a lot of success lose steam in the stories that follow. Fortunately, Blake manages to maintain the creepy vibe of her first novel in the sequel, delivering a story that is just as gruesome, scary, and exciting as its predecessor. One of the most interesting parts of both Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares is acid-tongued but courageous Cas and his best friends, Thomas and Carmel. The trio’s relationship was well-established in the first novel, and their dynamic is the majority of the reason why the second book is as enjoyable as it is. The reader feels like they know the characters, they care about their fates and wonder how they are going to survive going through, literally, hell and back. Anna is only a very minor character in this novel, mostly appearing in Cas’ horrifying visions of death and torture. Blake certainly has an eye for creating scenes of horror, and non-squeamish readers will get a good squirm from all of the scenes of terror. As with the first novel, teachers, parents and librarians should be aware that this book is definitely for an older teen audience. There is quite a bit of swearing and a great deal of gore. For readers who are mature enough to venture into Hell with Cas, however, this series is quite a ride.
Genre:  Horror
Reading level: Grade 10+
Similar titles: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Hereafter series by Tara Hudson, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Everneath by Brodi Ashton, Falling Under series by Gwen Hayes, Lightbringer by K.D. McEntire, Soul Screamer series by Rachel Vincent, On the Fringe by Courtney King Walker, Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach.
Themes:  Ghosts, death, Hell, Wicca, occult, ghost hunters, witches, friendship, loyalty, revenge, England.  
Awards/Reviews:  Starred review from Kirkus, sequel to positively reviewed novel.   
Series Information: Sequel to novel, Anna Dressed in Blood. Third novel not yet announced.    
Discussion questions:
-       Which novel did you like better: Anna Dressed in Blood or Girl of Nightmares? Why?

-       How do you think Cas changed between the two novels? Thomas? Carmel?

-       What do you think was the source of Cas’ visions of Anna? How did those visions impact the story?

-      Do you think that Jestine was a friend or enemy of Cas? Why?

-      How do you explain the ending of the novel?

-      Would you like to read a third Anna novel? If so, what would you like to see happen to the characters?




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