At the end of "Anna Dressed in Blood," poor ghost Anna sacrificed herself, wrangling the Obeahman through a portal she opened, dragging him into another world. Her unlikely boyfriend, Cas, was crushed: the girl he loved--even though she was a ghost and his job is to kill ghosts--was taken from him.
"Girl of Nightmares" picks up a few months after that devastating night. Cas is obsessed with getting his Anna back. One night, he and his best friends, Thomas and Carmel, perform a summoning ritual in an effort to contact Anna. Once she understands that Cas & friends are real, she tells Cas, "Get me out of here!" He's terrified. "Where are you?"
The story in "Girl of Nightmares" traces Cas's long journey to cross the plane, to go into hell and bring back his girlfriend. The adventure includes experts close to home (Thomas' witch grandfather & dead Finnish witch aunt; Cas's mom), mysterious letters, and a trip to England to visit Gideon, Cas's father's most trusted friend and teacher.
As Cas learns about getting his girlfriend back, he discovers that he, his dad, and Gideon are not the only three of their kind. Indeed, there's an entire Order of the Black Dagger. When it's time for Cas to cross over on his mission, he;s forced to take along Jestine, the feisty young woman who's being trained as Cas's replacement.
I loved "Anna Dressed in Blood," due in no small part to Anna herself. In "Girl of Nightmares," author Kendare Blake has written a novel where Anna is "on screen," if you will, for only a fraction of the pages. However, her presence is everywhere. Cas remembers her constantly, even hallucinating (or not) disturbing visions of her. Cas, Thomas, and Carmel discuss how much they miss her. The greater part of the narrative traces Cas's unceasing work, trying to get her back.
In other words, while Anna only appears for any length of time during the climactic showdown, she is at the center of most conversations and actions.
I was a little worried that any sequel to "Anna Dressed in Blood" would be a letdown. I'm happy to report that "Girl of Nightmares" does an exemplary job following its predecessor. I like the way Ms Blake balanced the various quest stages, and how she not only fleshed-out Gideon from "Anna," but created a brilliant new character in Jestine. Finally, Ms Blake's choice of ending is the perfect way to wrap-up this. (As far as I know, there won't be any further sequels)
"Girl of Nightmares" is the perfect lazy Sunday afternoon read. Highly recommended