Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Received from publisher for honest review
Summary: 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.
My Review: Spine-chilling and categorically stimulating, Anna Dressed in Blood, delivered one of the best ghost tales I've ever read. I love supernatural books, but for some reason I never was a huge fan of ghosts. However, it only takes one author to change a readers mind, and that's exactly what Kendare did for me. The novel opens up with Cas, a savvy ghost killer whose confidence level was through the roof. Luckily, his accomplishments backed up his dynamic personality, while his amiability shined through.
Honestly, most of the time I have trouble connecting with male leads, but with Cas it was different. I fed off his energy the moment he entered the scene and enjoyed peeling back his layers as I went. In addition, his quirky, witch mother and spirit-sniffing cat were also entertaining for secondary characters. Once Cas and his mother landed in a new town, the story took a turn for the oh my God, I can't read this book in the dark kind of way. Anna, whoa, that girl was a mix of the exorcist and the sweet girl next door. Is that even possible? Well, in this story it was! The deathly feel of Anna's angry streak scared the hell out of not only me, but her innocent victims as well.
Kendare's execution behind Anna's emotional uproar was superbly done. Thus, making it extremely easy for me to connect with her baggage and shockingly detailed background. The friendship build up between Cas and Anna was adorable. You'd think a human guy and a ghost girl having a relationship would be weird, but it wasn't. I would even find myself forgetting that Anna was even a ghost! All in all, I am fascinated by Kendare's writing ability and I look forward to continuing this series. I can't wait to see what happens to Cas and Anna next!
Kendare Blake grew up in the small city of Cambridge, Minnesota. She is a graduate of Ithaca College, in Ithaca, New York and received a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Middlesex University in London, England. She loves to travel, is an advocate for animals, and cheats a lot when she plays Final Fantasy. Adopted from South Korea at the age of seven months, she arrived with the following instruction: "Feed her chocolate." Though not medically advisable, she and her parents are eternally grateful for this advice. Kendare Blake's short fiction has appeared in numerous markets, including The Momaya Press Annual Review and Mirror Dance Magazine, among others. Her debut novel, Sleepwalk Society, deals with four friends coming of age post 9/11. Two other novels, Anna Dressed in Blood, and The Girl From Hell, are young adult horror books chronicling the strange life of Cassio Lowood, a teenage ghost hunter who falls in love with the dead girl he was supposed to kill. They are scheduled for release in 2011 and 2012.
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