Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Genre: YA, supernatural, horror
Published on October 17, 2011
Published by Tor Teen
Pages: 316

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: he kills the dead. 
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead - keeping pesky things life the future and friends at bay. 
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead of a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian house she used to call home. 
But she, for whatever reason, spares his life.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? It's spooky and gray with splashes of red - yes, I like the cover. Perfect for this book!

Characters: Cas is an awesome protagonist. He's sarcastic, smart, and maybe one of my new favorite teen male protagonists. Even when he's in a bad situation, Cas doesn't lose his sense of humor. He keeps his swagger while he tries to make it work to his advantage. I didn't think I would like Carmel at first, but she quickly grew on me. She's a popular girl, but she isn't typical, and she isn't squeamish. I came to really care about Anna, especially when we got her backstory. I wanted to like Will, but he quickly crossed the line and I began to dislike him a lot - even though I sort of felt sorry for him at the same time.

The Romance: It wasn't as weird as I thought it was going to be. Normally the whole "guy falls in love with ghost" plot device doesn't really work for me. It's. . . .strange. But the romance was actually extremely subtle and not the story's main focus.

Plot: Cas Lowood hunts ghosts. It's an occupation he inherited from his father, who was murdered by a ghost he was hunting. Now, Cas and his mother (who's also a witch) travel around, following local lore and legend, looking for malevolent ghosts and demons to put to rest. Where they go after they've been taken care of, Cas doesn't know. And he doesn't want to. When he gets a tip about Anna Dressed in Blood - an especially violent ghost who's been tearing people limb from limb - he knows there's something special about her. But he isn't prepared for her when he finally does meet her. Anna Dressed in Blood has never spared anyone. As soon as they cross the threshold of her house, they are dead. But Cas she spares. There's much more to Anna than just a mere tortured soul. And Cas is determined to find out what. Okay, this book seriously reminded me of Supernatural. Massively so. Which made me love it all the more. The plot is fast-paced and engaging and there's lots of mystery going on. Especially about Cas's father's murder. This is a duology; you know it's going to come up at some point. And when it does - well, let's just say it got interesting. At the same time, along with all the action and spooky stuff, there's a lot of world building done. And it's woven in almost seamlessly, so there's no information overloads and the plot is never slowed down, but the information isn't sparse.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. Loved Cas as the narrator; added a lot of humor, though this is a very dark story. The humor is subtle and rare, which makes it that much better when it did happen. I didn't mind the present tense at all. My only niggly was the red ink, but that's just me.

Content: 27 s-words, 14 f-words, 4 g--damns. The ghosts - especially Anna when she's morphed into her creepy, torturous self - are downright disturbing and demonic at times. The murder scenes are violent and brutal. And while there's humor in the story, it's mostly very dark.

Conclusion: What a climax! So, so creepy! But not drawn out to the point where it got boring. This didn't need a sequel. But I definitely see where there's room for one. Anna Dressed in Blood is creepy, disturbing at times, and engaging. It also has surprisingly complex characters that you learn to love and to hate. It's a lot more than a horror story (though it's also that). And I have to admit that I wasn't expecting that.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, eighteen-and-up, fans of horror, dark ghost stories, and Supernatural!

Others in This Duology:
1)Anna Dressed in Blood
2)Girl of Nightmares


  1. I agree that this doesn't need a sequel. I listened to the audio of this book and I was scared a few times!

    1. It's an awesome ghost story. I'm curious to see what the sequel is like.


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