Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: August 30, 2011 (hardcover)
Publisher: Tor Teen
Overall: 4.5 Stars
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
I really should have listened to the praise much more because I absolutely enjoyed reading Anna Dressed in Blood! There's something about the mystery of Anna's death and the dark reason she haunts her old house that completely mesmerizes you. I was just as curious and compelled as Cas to uncover the secrets which Thunder Bay, Ontario was hiding regarding Anna. There was more to Anna's vicious nature than the townsfolk's ghost stories were telling... and I tore through the pages trying to find the answers.
Cas was a great protagonist who showed so much growth throughout the novel. He's very cool and confident in his abilities on the surface, but on the inside, he has his doubts that he can avenge the death of his father when the time becomes right. His tireless efforts to kill the restless dead have been preparing him to take that step. He's not afraid to take risks to get the job done but he's also aware of his limitations. And despite his nature to push people away, others can't help but be drawn to Cas' strong sense of character and offer their help, knowing he's secretly grateful even if he wouldn't actually admit it. I just really liked Cas as a narrator with his sarcasm too!
I loved how the romance in the novel just sort of creeps up on you. It's not very obvious in the beginning, but then, it's suddenly in your face and everything falls perfectly into place. But that's all I'm going to say on that note. And like any good horror story, Kendare Blake has written some scary and gory scenes that leave quite the impression with the visuals brought to mind! It left me wondering if it was really such a great idea to be reading the book in the middle of the night...
If more ghost stories were as captivating and well-written as Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood, without a doubt, I would read them more often. Anna Dressed in Blood is just as dark and creepy as its cover, but in a completely awesome way. It's not so easy to find horror stories as imaginative and enticing as Kendare Blake's debut novel, yet Anna Dressed in Blood goes above and beyond being your ordinary ghost story. I'm absolutely looking forward to seeing what will happen next to Cas in the sequel, Girl of Nightmares!