Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
Anna Dressed in Blood  - Kendare Blake
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

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. (Description from Goodreads)
~ * ~ * ~

I am not a horror-story fan. Despite how much I love paranormal books and can deal with the supernatural: vampires, werewolves, evil faeries - but give me a good ghost story, with the potential for things that go bump in the night, and I run shaking for cover. ‘Anna Dressed in Blood’ definitely had some of those creepy moments; but they were definitely worth it.

Theseus Cassio ‘Cas’ Lowood is a ghost hunter. His father was a ghost hunter and apparently it’s in his blood. As someone who has a long line of hunters in his family, hunting seemed like the obvious choice when it came to what Cas wanted to do for a living. But vengeful ghosts are tricky entities, and Cas still has a long way to go before he understands everything about the undead world. I get a little nervous when the main character of a supernatural seems to already known so much about the world they’re in. I like that it’s different from the New-Human-Stumbles-on-the-Supernatural scene that appears in so many YA books; but when a character is already clued into the paranormal, I wonder where they can go from the start – what’s left to learn? Luckily for Cas, he’s young and manages to come across a few ghosts with more strength than your average spirit; so there’s still a lot of his world left undiscovered – especially when it comes to Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood, the ghost that seems to have more strength than any Cas has ever faced before; but the one ghost Cas doesn’t want to kill.

I liked Cas, he had a cool sense of humour that balanced out the spookiness of the story itself. It was definitely needed for me, as I would have struggled to get through the book if the creepiness outweighed the calm and peaceful. I loved that Cas involved other people in his ghost hunting, despite normally doing the job alone. He recognised that, in Anna’s case, it was going to involve a lot more than just him to get her issues sorted out. My biggest problem with Cas was his voice. As the narrator, his voice should be strong and should really let the readers know who he is as a person and reflect that in the way he speaks and acts. For the first half of the novel, I kept losing ‘Cas.’ More times than I can count, I forgot he was a guy. The ‘male’ part of his voice didn’t seem strong enough. That’s not to say he was a weak narrator – the story and the way Cas told it was easy to get into and flowed well; but there were times in the beginning where I thought he was a girl. I don’t know if I got used to it, or if his voice changed with the direction of the story, but I didn’t notice myself losing him so much in the second half of the book.

I’ve mentioned quite a bit that I’m not a horror fan. For people with a stronger mentality than me, ‘Anna Dressed in Blood’ is probably fairly tame, but I found myself reluctant to read it at night because I didn’t want to be kept up with thoughts of ghosts dismembering people. The book was very descriptive when it came to deaths. The blood, the gore, the action and movement of ghosts as they pushed their hands through bodies and ripped people apart – it captured the moment very well. Despite cringing at descriptions, I really enjoyed the aspects of ghost life. I loved seeing into Anna’s past and discovering why she became a vengeful spirit and I was really interested to see how Cas solved her mystery; how he worked out a way to release her from her destructive path.

There was plenty of action and excitement throughout the book, including a ghost-on-ghost epic battle, which I never saw coming, but kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. It was hard not to get pulled into the action. There’s no way to explain the extent of this scene without spoiling the ending, but it left me with a few questions, which I hope will be answered in the next book.

I’ll be interested to see what ghostly adventures Cas gets up to next.

4/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)


  1. Kim! It sounds awesome! Oh goodness, I have little stomach for ghost stories, either. I'm talking serious nightmares and Not being able to sleep >__<

    I SO want to read this, though :P

    You are not the only person who's commented on Cas not seeming... Particularly boyish. That sucks :(

    1. There wasn't as many scary scenes as I thought there'd be, but the ones that were there made me recoil a bit. It was all so gross and slightly creepy. But definitely helped to set the mood. It was necessary.

      It was just so strange. It wasn't like it was a weak narration. It was engaging and fun and easy to follow...but I couldn't tell if it was a guy or girl speaking at the beginning and halfway through the novel I remember hitting myself in the head and being "Oh, right! He's a guy!"

      I hope you get the chance to read it soon :)


  2. Great review, Kim! I put this book off for the same reason, I am no good with most horror books but if you were able to get through this, then I hope I'll be able to as well!

    1. It's probably not as bad as I thought it was, I'm just such a wuss when it comes to spooky things. Vampires? No Problem. Dark-evil Faeries? Bring 'em on. Werewolves? Yes, please! But ghosts...I just can't handle them as well.

      I hope you enjoy it though, when you get a chance to read it.