Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

"I've seen most of what there is to be afraid of in this world, and to tell you the truth, the worst of them are the ones that make you afraid in the light."
Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
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.

I'm currently in that post-wonderful book stage. You probably know what that's like: it feels like your faith has been restored in all literature and YA novels and strong protagonists and plots and everything else that was lovely about the book you just read. It makes you want to go buy a ton of new books (because you obviously have legendary book-picking skills). It makes you want to secure a job as a professional reader because you can literally not think of anything more enjoyable than spending hours a day reading books.

But seriously, I love this book. I read it in two sittings—it would have been one if I hadn't decided that sleep needed to be a higher priority than the book (which was a tough decision, believe me). But enough gushing: this a book review. There will be some actual reviewing.

The pacing in this book is fantastic. One of my fatal reading flaws is that I can get terribly bored if characters get stuck in a certain situation for too long. Anna Dressed In Blood had the situation changing just often enough that I never got bored of the current objective. 

Oh my gosh: the characters. If I had have to pick a favorite—it'd be Anna. I know, you shouldn't pick the terrible haunting ghost who's an infamous murderer, but I can't help it: Anna, you're awesome. Her emotions are insanely realistic and, since I more often dislike girls in YA fiction than not, she completely surprised me by being such an awesome character. The rest of the cast was similarly wonderful—especially Cassio's mom. You rock, Cas' mom. 

I just want to rave about everything in the book—the plot and the writing and all the characters and more—but it's suffice to say that I just enjoyed pretty much every aspect of this book way too much.

If you shy away from serious cursing, that's definitely something you should consider before reading this book. Not that I'm condoning it—but as long as it's not an excessive amount (which it wasn't)—cursing doesn't bother me too much in a book. Basically, Cas occasionally says things a typical seventeen-year-old guy would say. Just a heads-up before you try this book out!

Other than that, my only (nit-picky) complaint is that I wish there'd been a little more description about the character's reactions to everything going on in the story. It's a horror book, so some horrible things are obviously going to happen—I would have liked to see a little more of the characters reacting to them. (That sounds horrible, I know, but I want my books realistically express a situation. I don't just enjoy my fictional friends' pain.)

I promised I wouldn't gush anymore. (Unless you ask. But be forewarned that my book-gushing knows no bounds.)  I recommend it to everyone and hope to get my hands on the sequel as soon as possible.


  1. I loved this book as well! (And yes, I put the swearing disclaimer on my blog too -- swearing doesn't bother me, but there's so much in this book that I know it could be a turn-off for some people).

    You're right -- the pacing was really good, and there was plenty of action and suspense to keep the plot moving. The only thing I didn't like was the Cas/Anna relationship. It felt a bit flat to me.

    Great review!

    1. Glad you loved it too! Yeah, I wouldn't want someone who is opposed to swearing in books to pick it up without realizing it.

      See, I liked how their relationship was for most of the book—how they slowly warmed up to each other. In the end, I think it might've been a little rushed to get them "together" so I wish there'd been a little more of Cas' thoughts about it. However, I think the point was that they didn't together for most of the book, seeing as how he was supposed to kill her, so I was pretty content with their relationship. I can't wait to see how it changes in the sequel!

      Thanks so much for letting me know your thoughts! (:

  2. Don't even worry, Chey, Anna was my favorite too! Cas was definitely a close second, but Anna--that was just awesome! I loved how she seemed so sad, and it was--AAAHHHH. I can't even explain it's beauty properly! Great review, Chey, so glad you finally got around to reading it! :D

    (I will not ask. It will start a random gush fest between me and you, and the public does not need to see that. ;))

    1. Whew, I'm not alone! :D I know, I loved Cas too! I'm so amazingly glad that you love this book as much as I did. Hahaha, you're right—they probably don't need to see that. ;)