Plot: Cas is a ghost hunter like his father and his father before him going back a thousand years. A few months ago, he fell for a murderous ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood and she dragged his father’s killer into hell. Since that day, everything has changed: he is obsessed with Anna’s fate and this obsession colors every aspect of his life. But when he starts seeing her, tortured and asking for his help, everyone is sure that he is hallucinating. Nothing can return from the other side… or so he has always been told.
Girl of Nightmares is the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood. Blake’s first novel took my breath away: she gave me both an chilling ghost story and a unique romance. Her second book is every bit as good.
With both Anna and the Obeahman gone from their world, there are fewer murders than in the first book. But don’t be fooled! The stakes are as high as ever. Cas continues to hunt some truly creepy ghosts but with his attention diverted, he makes some very risky mistakes. And before the novel is done, he must confront a secret society, a rival to his calling and every ghost he ever sent away with his knife. It’s not a gruesome story but there’s more than one scene that will give you goosebumps.
Cas and his love for a girl who died long before he was born continues to be fascinating and surprisingly believable. But, for me, his friend Carmel is the one who shines in this novel. She is an ordinary (if extremely beautiful and popular) girl, not even a witch like her boyfriend Thomas, and she is having more and more trouble dealing with the supernatural danger that comes with being Cas’ friend. She makes some hard choices and she takes crap from no one, no matter how powerful. There is also a new character who, to avoid spoilers, I will let you discover for yourself. I will only say that though she can be hard to like at times, it pleases me to see a woman so unashamedly strong, blunt and ambitious but who is also, very clearly, a good person.
The writing, meanwhile, is wonderful. I especially appreciate Blake’s dark sense of humour. The timing and the tone always seem to be perfect. She can surprise a smile out of me in even the most dire situations. When Cas talks about “dead-girl whack-a-mole” and the “shitty tread” on his “shoes of the mind”, I am reminded of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at its best.
As a side note, I must say that the red ink that the book is printed in really added to the atmosphere. I like getting away from plain black from time to time, especially when it suits the novels theme. (I’m also thinking of the brown ink in Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker series.)