Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

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.

Oh boy, what to say? I started this one after two very disappointing reads, so I was really hoping to break my streak. I was hooked by the very first line. I mean that literally too. I read the first line, chuckled, and immediately felt like I was going to enjoy this book immensely. And I did.

Cas isn’t you’re ordinary boy. First of all his full name is Casio Theseus Lowood. Secondly, he hunts the dead. Cas and his mom live their lives constantly on the move so he can hunt down violent ghosts and dispatch them. I think one of the things I liked best about this book was that, even though the events are extraordinary, Cas’s voice stayed real. Most of the time his humor and actions pretty much lined up with what I imagine a teenage boy might say or do in these circumstances. When the characters were having a conversation, it sounded like something I would actually hear people saying; swears, corny jokes and all. When your book’s about a teenage ghost hunter who has physic friends and might be in love with a ghost, it’s nice to have something familiar to ground you in reality. Makes it more believable.

And then there’s Anna. I’m pretty much a wimp when it comes to ghost stories so I was a little worried this would keep me up at night. Anna is certainly scary when we first meet her. She’s all-powerful and murderous and that’s shown in rather graphic ways. But it’s also clear from the beginning that there’s more to her. Anna’s fear factor fades pretty quickly once you find out more about her past, though she remains a force to be reckoned with.

I was happy to see that this is going to be series because there are a few loose ends that would look alarmingly like plot holes if this was a standalone book. I kind of wish they’d been addressed in this one just for the sake of tidiness, but I’m happy to have something else to look forward to.

On a side note, I think this cover is gorgeous. I’m pretty consistently disappointed with cover art these days. I am soooo tired of the photos of pretty models dressed in evening gowns, maybe because when I first started reading YA the covers were mostly artwork. Some of them actually look a little cheesy now, but I still find them more interesting than most things I see on the shelf today. But this cover is an exception. I actually kept flipping the book over to look at it every now and then as I was reading because it just did such a good job of capturing the image in my head.

So, to sum things up: Good book, heartily recommended. Was the perfect antidote to the less than stellar books I had been reading, yay! Although the next one I read was awful…boo. Oh well.

Anna Dressed In Blood on Goodreads & Amazon


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