Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
released: August 30th, 2011
hardcover, 360 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: received from publisher for honest review
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.
Review: In one word: Awesome!
I really loved this one. It was a little of everything: tense, funny, sentimental, adventurous, terrifying, gory, romantic. All of that and more. Let me tell you, I normally steer clear of anything gory, which is why you don't find too many zombie books on this blog...I just don't have the stomach for it. Anna Dressed in Blood had moments of sheer gore, blood everywhere, people getting ripped in half---and yet I was so wrapped up in the wild story, it didn't bother me. Some of the terrifying moments were so intense and the monsters so creepy, they snuck into my dreams, but I enjoyed the characters and their dilemmas too much to stop.
The beginning hits the ground running and never stops. We don't get told what Cas does for a living, we step right into the passenger seat and get shown first hand this boy in action. Cas was far from a normal everyday guy. Yet I found him completely relatable. He was funny, so clever, wickedly brave, and had made a fine art out of keeping people at arms length. Confidence that bordered on cockiness once in a while, but that made it all the more entertaining to see him knocked off his game by the mysterious Anna.
The big surprise: This book, Anna's story specifically, had me in tears. The last thing I expected when I cracked open this book, was to need to reach for the kleenex. It was that complex, that intense...that good.
Scary, thrilling, fun, and more than a little stomach-turning...but Anna Dressed in Blood is so worth it.
Final note: Upon finishing this, I completely thought this would be a stand-alone. But a sequel has recently been announced! No details yet, but this will be high on my wishlist for 2012!
Visit Kendare Blake's site here.