Thursday, October 11, 2012
Anna Girl of Nightmares
Anna Korlov, better known as Anna Dressed in Blood, has been gone for months. She opened a door to hell in the basement of the Victorian house she haunted in order to defeat Cass's archenemy, the Obeahman. Unfortunately, she was sucked into that door as well. Cass, a formidable ghost hunter, is in love with her and has unresolved feelings. He knows having her at rest is better than having her hang around the living world, cursed to kill anyone who disturbs her house. Then, horrific visions of Anna pop up everywhere: at the mall, at his house, at school, while he sleeps. Desperate to find out how to get her and save her, Cass starts to research ways of opening up his own door to hell. Unfortunately, other occultists (like Thomas's grandpa and his own mentor) discourage him from even looking into it and want him to leave Anna alone. Anna saved his life and he loves her, so he continues his search. Their warnings did have some merit, made apparent when he invites the attention of an old cultish order that knows much more about Cass and his power than he does.
I read Anna Dressed in Blood, where the amazing and frightening Anna Korlov is introduced, last year and it shot up to the top of my favorite horror reads. Of course I had to read the follow-up novel that once again brings together Cass, Thomas, and Carmel, our intrepid ghost hunting trio. I can't get enough of these characters. All of them are amazing in their own way, but also not perfect. Cass is singleminded and unrelenting in his quest to free Anna. He would do the same for any of his friends, but she's also the girl he loves (even though he realizes how weird and fucked up it is). His sense of loyalty and morality makes him one of the best characters. Rather than follow someone else's belief system blindly like that creepy cultish order, he figures out his own moral code to follow. He also has a dark humor and wit that colors the narrative beautifully. Thomas once again proves his badass witch skills and sticks with Cass like a real friend even though everyone else thinks he should give up. Carmel is a little infuriating through most of the novel, but still has her good qualities even though she makes mistakes. Her fear doesn't deter her from fighting fiercely against things that outmatch her. These characters are so realistic and fun to read, making it even sadder that this series is over.
The scares are spaced out, but phenomenal. I was expecting more because of the previous book, so I was a teensy bit disappointed. The suicide forest scene and a couple of others (I don't want to spoil too much) were pulse pounding. This book is more about an emotional and psychological journey for Cass and completely different than the first book. I was also slightly disappointed that Anna didn't have a huge role in the book. She's talked about a lot and she definitely has a presence in the novel, but not as pronounced as the first book. I also didn't like seeing her as an damsel in distress, but when faced with a power so much stronger than her, I guess it was unavoidable. I have mixed feelings about the ending (among them being sadness, happiness, and anger), but I felt it was a truly satisfying end.
Anna Girl of Nightmares isn't as good as Anna Dressed in Blood, but it's still one of my favorites reads of this year and a very good novel with amazing writing and memorable characters. The more introspective and personal journey aspects are different from the first novel, but interesting and important to the story nonetheless. I will read anything Kendare Blake writes from now on and I highly recommend this to horror and YA fans.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins