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. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: 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.
Yet she spares Cas's life.
Rating: 3 Stars
Book Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: October 17th, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Of course I’m going to pick up a book when I notice the blurb on the front of it is by one of my favorite authors, ESPECIALLY if that author is Cassandra Clare. Case in point: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Did I mention I was also lucky enough to receive this book from Katherine Harbour after winning one of her giveaways? Thanks again Katherine!
Now typically I’m not the biggest fan of horror, but considering the fact that this is YA I wasn’t that opposed to it. It’s also about a ghost and I have this sick fascination with YA ghost stories after reading Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto last year. In Anna Dressed in Blood the ghost of Anna has a great backstory and a creepy house that is by default freakishly awesome. As far as her character goes though, I wasn’t the biggest fan. I thought the character development was somewhat lacking. When our main character, Cas, first learns of Anna, he gets to hear about all her horrifying murders and the picture I painted in my head of Anna was a force to be reckoned with. I’m talking about the type of ghost story that you fall asleep thinking about and then ending up dreaming about, waking up in a cold sweat. Then we finally meet Anna and she is all of these things, except she’s not. Confused? Just wait.
So basically Anna has a split personality, during which her darker side takes over when someone comes into her house, hence all the brutal killings. When she meets Cas though, this doesn’t happen. For some reason she is able to control herself around him and her true personality remains intact. Although I loved this Anna, the demon part of her felt somewhat forced and fake to me. I was hoping for some more scenes where we got to witness an internal battle between herself and the demon/dark side of her. Fans of Mortal Instruments I think a perfect example of what I was hoping for is what Jace has to endure later on in the series (trying to avoid spoilers here). I’m not saying I didn’t like the concept here, but I thought the two sides of Anna could have used some more development in the story.
As far as the plot itself goes though, I liked the idea of it. Despite Cas’s reluctance to be referred to as a ghost buster, that’s essentially what he does. Having inherited this profession from his father by default, Cas travels (taking his mom with him) to different parts of the world killing ghosts that are causing mayhem. Don’t worry! Nice ghosts get a pass! When tips and new stories swarm Cas’s mailbox, he looks at them and decides if any of them seen accurate. If they do, he packs up and takes off to his next location. I loved this part of the story!
Initially I was a little irritated that he seemed on a mission to get the ghosts only out of revenge. After his father’s death Cas sets off on these adventures in order to redeem himself for what happened to his father. It’s almost as if he blames himself and I was a little annoyed at the “woe is me” momentum this seemed to carry in the text. As I got further into Anna Dressed in Blood though, I realized just how crucial this aspect of the book was to the story overall and I changed my mind. It ties in really well with the climax and the end of the book!
Final thoughts? While I think Anna Dressed in Blood was a decent read and I got through it fairly quickly, it wasn’t one of my favorite ghost stories I’ve read. I think if you’re new to the whole YA ghost story scene, you’ll enjoy this one by Kendare Blake. For those of you, like me, who have read a few books from this genre though, I think you might find it comes up short in comparison to other ones on the market in this category.