Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

From the Back Cover:

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 Thoughts:

Kudos to Ms. Blake for an original story premise, a killer title, and a great opening chapter! In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I'll keep this short and sweet. Cas comes from a long line of ancestors bearing a special gift: the ability to kill people who are already dead--people who are unable to rest in peace and have become malevolent spirits. He travels the country with his mother, moving from town to town, following the tales of ghosts who take their anger out on the living. He's never met a ghost he couldn't handle--until he rolls into Thunder Bay and meets Anna.

Anna Dressed in Blood was sixteen years old when she was brutally murdered in 1958 and she's been taking her anger out on every person who has entered her house ever since. Cas senses right away that Anna is special, and that something is very off about her. She is stronger and angrier than any other ghost he's met, and as he gets to know her and her story, he falls in love with her and becomes determined to help her. But something wicked has set its sights on Cas, and as our players gear up for a classic good vs. evil showdown, he may be the one who ends up needing to be saved.

The plot is refreshingly original, fast-paced, suspenseful, and not at all predictable. It's got a large dose of horror with some witchcraft and voodoo thrown in, and I thought Cas was a great character. However, I would have liked a more mature tone for the subject matter-- it's a little too heavy on the teen-speak, one liners, and pop culture references for my taste. I had a couple of lingering, unanswered questions at the end, too, but I'm hoping that this was intentional since the ending, though fairly well-resolved, still leaves a little spark of hope for a sequel. Overall I thought this was a very good, very unique, and surprisingly emotional story, and should please fans of paranormal YA.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

*Please note:  This review references an advance copy received through the Amazon Vine program, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.


  1. sometimes that snappy teen-style prose really bugs me, but I reckon I'll make an exception for this which looks and sounds amazing!! I've been waiting for a review for a while, so thanks for sharing!

    Feel free to link your review up to my review blog hop, which will be posted at 8am CST time here tomorrow!!

  2. awww, too bad it's a little bit teen-speaky. sounds good otherwise though

  3. I love the title! That's what grabbed me! I'm not totally wild about YA so I might pass but you've totally piqued my interest!


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