Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Book: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release date: August 30, 2011
Source: ARC for review from I Read Banned Books Tour

Summary: (from Goodreads) 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 deadâ??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.

First impressions: Male POV! Yes! Not only is Cas a great male protagonist, he’s funny. Swoon!

Lasting impressions: Great little horror book for the ghost hunting set.

Conflicting impressions: Can we have a new rule where nobody falls in love with ghosts?

Overall impressions: This book was so much fun, which feels weird to say about a sometimes gruesome, often scary tale about a demonic ghost. Kendare Blake sets the tone with our fearless narrator, Cas. He’s witty, funny, quirky, and has an interesting occupation: ghost killer.

Cas has inherited a knife and an ability from his father that allows him to put murderous rampaging ghosts to rest. He grew up traipsing around the world after his dad, who followed leads on where to find the worst ghosts. His mother, a witch, sells candles and other Wiccan supplies online, thus supporting the ghost killer habit. When Cas’s dad dies at the hand of a particularly brutal ghost, Cas takes over.

Now following tips of his own, he pursues a lead on a ghost in Canada known locally as Anna Dressed in Blood. Murdered in the 50s on her way to a school dance, she now haunts her old house, taking out anyone who dares enter. She proves this in epic fashion on Cas’s first visit to the house, when a bully from school locks him in the house and Anna unleashes her wrath upon the bully.

There is plenty of violence and a smattering of foul language (f-bombs flying!), so this is one for the older set. I, for one, did not mind the language, but a few times it seemed to pop up so suddenly that it took me out of the world for a second. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading so clean lately?

Anna is as wonderful a character as is Cas. She’s bold, confused, and full of hideous secrets she tries desperately to hide. I don’t want to give too much away, because the joy of the novel is discovering Anna’s story as well as Cas’s. The two of them have to explore their histories and destinies in ways that make them uncomfortable, but it must be done in order to set things right.

This is a magical, dark, funny novel full of interesting characters. I loved the story, and its twists and turns kept me guessing. There were a few elements that could have been developed a little further, and I’m not a fan of the fact that this turned into a paranormal romance when it could have been a great standard horror book, so four stars from me. It’s still a great read, however, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great male protagonist.

Marry me, Cas!

Rating: 4/5 stars

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