I’m glad I picked this sequel up because it’s really what a sequel should be- focused on tying up loose ends from the previous book and finishing the story rather than presenting a bunch of new plot lines. Girl of Nightmares is a quick, fun read, just like it’s predecessor, offering the same witty narrative and endearing characters as Anna Dressed in Blood .
The sequel follows the aftermath of Anna disappearing into (what is assumed to be but is really open to interpretation) “hell” with the ghost that killed Cas’ father and has now become bound to his athame. This sequel provides an interesting, if still vague, backstory on the history of the athame and how it came into existence. Gideon’s character is fleshed out more as well as Thomas’ and Carmel’s, though Carmel has a character arc that was somewhat irritating, unnecessary, and pretty cruel. A new central character is introduced, Jestine, who readers will either love or be irritated by- I was the latter.
Personally I did not find this book nor its prequel scary or disturbing, and I don’t claim to be brave in the least when it comes to horror. I think that Cas’ jaded character and unique narrative contribute to this factor(I personally love the fact that Blake includes honest swearing, as it’s totally realistic and really convinces the reader that they are indeed hearing his internal monologue). I’m also glad that while the series has a creepy pretense, the author is not so focused on the need to make it absolutely terrifying or gory that the plot suffers. At times I did find that this story tended to drag toward the middle and end, especially before the climax (which was really only like introduced and wrapped up in the last 15 pages) but I was motivated enough by the overall series to get through it. And the ending- I’ve seen a lot of reviews freaking out about how the series ends, and though it becomes obvious a few paragraphs before it happens, I did not see it coming throughout reading the book (though looking back one realizes it was a strong possibility). I applaud Blake for writing an ending that goes against the normal YA-fiction formula, though it left me achingly curious about Cas’ story after Girl of Nightmares.
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I loved loved loved the Suicide Forest. It was the most clever thing I have read in a long time, especially in a YA fiction book. I loved the obvious influence from Dante’s Inferno and the personalized take on the idea. I also love the way the meaning of the forest twists throughout the narrative, going from a peaceful place for people to end their lives to a place of seductive and vile beauty that seems to lure lost souls in and almost forcibly take them. This was probably the creepiest and most wonderfully written portion of the entire series.
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All in all I would give Girl of Nightmares a 3.5 out of 5, a series that I had enormous fun reading, whose premise I loved, yet I wasn’t left with the feeling that the book was going to forever stick with me, or keep me up at night with its complexities. I am excited to see what else Kendare Blake produces in the world of fiction, and one thing I will take away from reading this series is Cas, who is hands down one of my favorite male protagonists in a YA series of all time.
What did you think? Was this series really as scary as it was hyped up to be? Did you like Cas as a narrator? Let me know!