Girl of Nightmares - Kendare Blake “She crossed over death to call me. I crossed through Hell to find her.”

It's been several months since Cas, Carmel and Thomas defeated the Obeahman with the help of Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas is melancholy over losing the enigmatic Anna when he begins to see her around him--only she appears to be injured and badly wounded. Where has Anna gone and can Cas and his friends save her from Hell itself?

Anna Dressed in Blood was a delightful surprise. It actually was scary, intense, gritty, and enjoyable to read. The characters were pretty well-done (even if Cas drove me nuts at times), and the story was definitely interesting. I hadn't been expecting it to turn into a series, but I realize how publishers are these days, and they usually try to pump a trilogy out of an idea. But since I enjoyed book 1 so much, I didn't mind marking my calendar for when Book 2 would be released.

"Girl of Nightmares" was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, it was still delightfully scary and mature (I read this at 11:30pm, which was STUPID and scared the CRAP out of me); on the other, I felt there wasn't enough story to justify another book.

Cas, Thomas, Carmel, Anna, Morfran, and Gideon return for part 2 and are excellent. Cas was occasionally grating, but like I've said before, I don't have to be BFF's with a main character in order to be interested in the story. And I did like how Cas was flawed, not some guy that every girl throws herself at. He was arrogant, stubborn, and fool-hardy. Thomas was a great pal, and I adored how he was the one to "get the girl" (I am SO sick of the main character always getting paired off with the only chick/guy). But my favorite character was Carmel. FINALLY, a female in a YA book who has opinions and sticks with them! And while she also was horrible to her friends (breaking up rather brutally with Thomas at one point), I respect WHY she did it and how well the whole situation was written, from Carmel's POV to Thomas' to them speaking again after the incident and beyond.

We have a few new characters that crop up, mostly Jestine, an annoying female Cas clone. I get how she is supposed to be the alter-Cas, but I found her obnoxious and irritating. I also felt that the members of the Order of Biodag Dubh were not very well defined and pretty shifty.

But by far my biggest complaint is that so much of the book feels meandering, just wasting time until the last 50 pages where we can FINALLY have Cas do what he's been flailing to do for the previous almost 300 pages. At the beginning, I was pretty engaged and intrigued, and there seemed to be a good flow. But the moment that the group had to travel to England (personally, I felt this was a copout--why couldn't this have been located in Thunder Bay?), the book seemed to lose its point and feel--I'm sorry--slapped together. Suddenly, we are talking about old mystical orders, a girl who is trying to be Cas' replacement, a "trial", a journey through Suicide Forest (which, to be fair, was pretty damned scary!!), and a bunch of talking with people about all this new information that suddenly appears (including "No, you can't rescue Anna", "Well, maybe you can", "We know how to do it...kinda").

It all boils down to this: I honestly feel that Anna and Cas' story was complete in "Anna Dressed in Blood". It pretty nicely wraps up the story of Anna right there. If there was to be a Book 2, it probably would have worked better to A) introduce more of these Order elements into Book 1 (which may not have been possible because "Anna" was written as a standalone) or B) have Cas face off with another ghost (yes, I know, this is cliche and basically copying the formula of Book 1). To me, it felt like a lot of new stuff had to be introduced (including a complex, hard-to-understand history of the athame) in order to make the story work.

That doesn't mean, however, this is a bad book. Again, it is scary, more than a lot of other novels out there (I had the pleasure of listening to Blake read the part where Thomas, Carmel, and Cas perform the ceremony to speak with Anna and that was creepy awesome!). Carmel was an amazing, kick @ss female character (so was, of course, Anna), and while I did get itchy for the plot to get going and for Cas to DO something, I did overall enjoy myself (that climax was pretty awesome). Basically, if you really liked Blake's writing, liked Anna's story, or like gory, scary novels, this is probably the book for you. It certainly isn't the worst thing to spend an afternoon reading.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
There are quite a few f-bombs in this novel, so I would definitely recommend to mature teens.
Carmel and Thomas are dating, but there are no explicit sex scenes and very little (if any) mention of sex.
Quite a few people are stabbed, cut, wounded, bloodied, or otherwise gorified (yay, I made up a word!) in the course of the novel. Again, for mature teens only.