BOOK REVIEW: Anna Dressed In Blood, by Kendare Blake

Date(s) read: January 21, 2012
Genre: YA Horror
Challenge: 2012 Young Adult Reading Challenge

1. Anna Dressed in Blood Goodreads | Amazon
2. Girl of Nightmares

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. . . 

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 like 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 is 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 she used to call home. 

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

My Thoughts
I’m going to say this first: I love a good ghost story. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like YA books nowadays deal with anything but ghosts, so I was happy to find such a book even existed. Aside from the fact that it’s a ghost story, Anna Dressed In Blood immediately drew me in because of the cover — how crazy and cool is that cover art? It’s mysterious and creepy and fantastically designed. I probably would’ve bought the book for the cover alone if the story hadn’t also drawn me in.

Anna Dressed in Blood is the story of Cas, am 17-year-old ghost-hunter who kills the dead. Not all the dead, but only the dead who are a threat to humans. When he moves to Thunder Bay, Ontario he has one mission: to find Anna — a ghost that had been causing major problems — and kill her. Naturally, there are twists and turns, but this is a pretty good story and will keep you turning the pages.

Now, while I was first turning the pages, getting into the crazy intro that Blake tossed my way, the first thing that completely threw me with this novel was the fact that it was told by a guy’s perspective. When I realized this, oh, about 10 pages in, I realized that I read a lot of woman-based fiction; a lot of stories told from a female perspective, or about females. I am obviously quite sheltered in my literature and really should get out of my shell.

But I digress.

That being said, while I loved Cas and his snarkiness, I really enjoyed Anna’s character. She was haunting, but sweet, and I found myself constantly pulling for her. I also loved Cas’s mother and how she helped him with his “kills” — from what I’ve been reading in YA literature, the parents aren’t normally one of the forerunners of the novel; sure you see them now and again, but they never play a big part.

The other characters are awesome as well, though I thought there was one thing missing with them: that emotion that comes with seeing a ghost, or seeing anything truly gruesome. Is it just me? Am I the only one who would be thrown into a sleepless night after seeing a ghost? I felt like these kids were just shaking it off like it was something that was bound to happen sooner or later and it’s really no big deal.

One of the other things that took some getting used to was the print of the book: rather than having the story printed in regular, run of the mill black ink, it was printed in a dark red, as if to emphasize the “blood” part of the title.

And the romance! Who would’ve thought that a YA novel written from a male perspective would have such great romance. I’m not talking about anything hot and heavy, but rather, more of an innocent kind of romance. Nothing heavy-handed or overly done, but something that made me smile and blush in parts. I adored the romance in this book!

And how could I forget Tybalt, the Siamese cat? I am not really a cat person (just ask the two I have at my house — they’re my husband’s cats and pretty much ignore me when he’s not around), but I absolutely fell in love with Tybalt. I felt he added some good humour to the book.

The only thing I was really questioning throughout the book — besides the teenagers’ reaction to the world of the unknown — were the ghosts and how tangible they actually were. I felt that it wasn’t really talked about, yet the ghosts seemed to come across as regular human beings, heard by everyone, able to be touched and touch things. From what I remember, from ghost stories I heard growing up, a ghost was only seen by certain people and couldn’t be touched. I wonder why the ghosts in this book were so different.

In the end, I really enjoyed this novel, even if it didn’t completely live up to the high horse I had put it on. Don’t get me wrong, I adored Cas, and loved Anna to death, but I felt like something was missing. Maybe it was because I didn’t get completely scared while reading it — though, it does take a lot to scare me in a book. Even if that was the case, I still really look forward to the second instalment of this series — I’m sure it will be wonderful.

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© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.

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4 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Anna Dressed In Blood, by Kendare Blake

  1. I love a good ghost story, too. I’m planning to read this one soon so I’ve marked your review to come back and read it again once I’m done. I don’t get scared easy either so I’m curious how much it will live up to the hype for me as well.

  2. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2), by Kendare Blake | Reading In Winter

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