Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Pages: 316 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)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.


As a hunter of all things dead and the son of a man who did the same work, Cas Lowood has spent much of his life traveling with his family, now reduced to him, his mom, and their cat Tybalt after the murder of Cas's father by a ghost. Their next destination is Thunder Bay, Canada, where a young girl called Anna Dressed in Blood haunts her old home and kills everyone who steps inside, be they an encroaching vagrant or a nosy teenager. When Cas confronts her and she demonstrates her overwhelming power, she miraculously spares his life--multiple times. As Anna's situation becomes clear to him, Cas vows to do what he can to help her.

I'm afraid I'll have to put some blame on my friends here as to why I didn't love Anna Dressed in Blood as much as they did. (No, none of you are allowed to troll me for this. You know who you are.) So many of my friends read the book before I got to it and had it so hyped up that my expectations were immense going into it. I expected it to be hilarious, scary, heart-wrenching, and so much more. It was heart-wrenching at points, but not the other two. It feels terrible to let my silly expectations knock off a star like they're doing, but it doesn't feel right when I try to give it that star back.

Although the book is not scary, Blake writes some genuinely creepy scenes I found myself enjoying immensely. (Except for one close to the end because... well, even saying why I was uncomfortable would be a spoiler of the highest degree.) Cas's narrative voice is smooth and reads well; Cas got on my nerves sometimes, but he was a good narrator, certainly one of the best male narrators I've encountered in YA recently. Of the entire cast of characters, only Cas and Anna won me. Everyone else came off blah to me and the romance didn't connect with me.

The title character, the homicidal Anna Dressed in Blood, is the true star of the book and steals the spotlight from Cas, and she is why the book will remain memorable despite my so-so feelings about it. Her characterization is fantastic and all the work that went into making her such a complex, sympathetic character shows in how well it works. Anna and Anna alone is what has me hooked for the sequel Girl of Nightmares, out in August 2012.

One thing that bothers me about the novel is how little the people care about strange happenings. Three very unusual, very vicious murders and a disappearance happen in about two months in their area, but all that goes into it are a few days of being on the news and one search party? That doesn't quite work for me.

I wish I could have fallen in love with Anna Dressed in Blood (the book, not the character; I love the character), but it just barely won enough of my heart to make me stick around for the next book. Sometimes, I should ignore my friends so situations like this don't happen again.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

1 comment:

  1. I agree, I heard so much about the book that when I finally read it, I was a little disappointed in it as a whole.

    Anna, however, was fantastic.


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