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Girl of Nightmares    by Kendare Blake order for
Girl of Nightmares
by Kendare Blake
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kendare Blake gave herself a hard act to follow in writing the totally engrossing Anna Dressed in Blood. But she's done it again with Girl of Nightmares.

The first book introduced Theseus Cassio 'Cas' Lowood, from a long line of ghost hunters. Cas inherited his athame (an ancient, magical knife) after his dad died fighting a powerful voodoo entity, the Obeahman. His mom is a Wiccan who crafts and sells occult supplies. Their pursuit of ghosts led them to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where Cas planned to end the reign of terror of Anna Korlov. Known locally as Anna Dressed in Blood, this girl was murdered in 1958 at age sixteen.

At high school, Cas befriended queen bee Carmel and Thomas, a telepath and nerd, whose salty old grandfather Morfran is skilled in voodoo. But the confrontation with Anna did not go as expected. Though others died, she refrained from killing Cas. Instead, 'she sacrificed herself and dragged the Obeahman down to Hell.' As Anna Dressed in Blood ended, Cas was obsessed with her, but her ultimate fate was unknown.

Now, in Girl of Nightmares, that obsession continues and Cas is plagued by nightmares of Anna suffering continual torment - where is she? His distraction risks his own life and that of his friends, Carmel and Thomas (who are now dating and help Cas dispatch ghosts). So they start seeking answers, first from Finnish witch Riika (a family friend of Thomas and Morfran) and then in England from Cas's father's friend Gideon, who has always been his mentor.

Despite constant warnings to back off - and damage to the relationship between Thomas and Carmel - Cas cannot stop this quest. In England they meet the Order of the Black Dagger and a young member, Jessie. She has been trained to do what Cas does, but the Order is more ruthless in its approach to ghosts than Cas ever was. The Order tests Cas, along with his friends and Jessie, by making them run a gauntlet of ghosts in the Scottish wilderness.

And when they do consent to help Cas seek Anna, Jessie goes too, and there's a steep price, 'your life's blood, leaking out of your gut.' Girl of Nightmares is a wonderful sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood. And though it's often gory, it is also beautifully written, as in this description of Riika - 'Her voice is like the pages of a very old book.' Don't miss this amazing series!

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