Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: TOR Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Paranormal / Horror
Release date: August 30th, 2011
Pages: 316 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Won
Goodreads | Amazon | Author
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.

Anna Dressed in Blood isn't just another watered-down ghost legend in the town of Thunder Bay, Ontario.  When Cas arrives, he quickly begins to realize that she's much more powerful and dangerous than any other ghost he's faced before.  After all, she's just another part of his training to take on the head honcho that ripped apart his father years ago.  Something strange happens upon meeting Anna and for some reason or another, they both become attached.

The story is much more compelling than I originally expected.  I couldn't believe how gory and incredible the descriptions of certain scenes were, and I can honestly say that the first description of Anna made my skin crawl.  Theseus Cassio, or better known as Cas, constantly moves from town to town, making it his job to kill the particularly harmful undead.  He knows all the right places to look in order to find Anna Korlov, who was once an innocent teenage girl, but is now a deadly creature you'd never want to mess with.  From the moment they meet during an immature prank, she chooses to spare his life even though his plans are a bit different for her.

Though a large part of Anna's spirit seems to be quite malicious, Cas isn't scared off easily.  He's determined to find out how she died- why she's so powerful and vengeful- but after a few very unfortunate events, he realizes that he's got something much larger and much more powerful than the ghost of a teenage girl on his hands.

Kendare Blake did such an awesome job writing this book that I know it's going to stay on my mind for days after finishing it.  Essentially, the story blindfolded me and took me on a ride.  I can't say that I saw a single thing coming other than the small romance held within the pages.  I certainly wasn't aware that the story would end the way it did, but it makes me more eager to read the sequel.  Overall, Anna Dressed in Blood turned out to be an oddly pleasant book with magic, mystery, horror and romance all wrapped in one.

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