YA Review (Horror): Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake

Review Time

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
Anna #1  316 Pages  Young Adult
TasCH’s Rating: 5 stars
Published: October 17th, 2011

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.

..ggg

I think of her again. Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood. I wonder what tricks she’ll try. I wonder if she’ll be clever.
Will she float? Will she laugh or scream?
How will she try to kill me?

Anna Dressed in Blood left me giddy. I started this book on a whim, on an airplane going back home, and by the time I landed in my town I was already past page 200. It is addicting and amazing and horrific and SO VERY DAMN GOOD.

First off, it is told from a male protagonist POV (Theseus Cassio Lowood– but you can call him Cas). SWOON. He kicks ass and takes names left and right, he is a ghost hunter (NOT a ghostbuster), he is protective of his mother and family cat, he is seeking revenge for the death of his father… also he wields an athame like a badass. He really does remind me of a young Dean Winchester, good looks and all.

Cas goes around the country (with the help of his mother) following leads and killing all sorts of unfriendly ghosts. The latest haunting tip instantly got his attention; about a girl who was killed over 50 years ago and haunts her old house killing anybody that decides to cross her threshold. The girl is mean, powerful, and wears a white dress that is covered in blood. She is a goddess, she is his biggest challenge yet, and he can’t wait to meet her face to face. And of course, kill her.

Anna is this goddess of death that plays with Cas like a cat plays with a mouse. He thinks he can kill her, she is sure as hell he cannot. She is strong willed even though she doesn’t think so, beautifully haunting even in her blood covered dress. They both try to intimidate each other and what ends up happening is that they end up bounding over their shared bravado.

I stand up and brush my shirt off even though there’s nothing to brush off, looking around. I’m in what used to be the kitchen.There’s a dusty black stove and a table with three chairs. I’d really like to sit down on one, but the cupboards start opening and closing by themselves, drawers slamming shut and the walls starting to bleed. Slamming doors and smashing plates.Anna is acting like a common poltergeist. How embarrassing

“You were trying to scare me off. That sad little display was supposed to send me running for the hills.”
“Sad little display?” she mocks me. “I bet you almost wet yourself.”
I open my mouth and quickly shut it. She almost made me laugh, and I’d still like to be pissed. Only not literally. Oh crap. I’m laughing.
Anna blinks and smiles, fleetingly. She’s trying not to laugh herself.”

The romance is slow to build, and so very tender that it will sure touch your heart. I love their slow building friendship and understanding of each other. No insta-love here. Do they have a shot in hell? probably not since Anna IS already dead, but that makes it the much more tragic love story.

My version of Anna:

Evanna Lynch evanna_lynch_lorenzo_agius_photoshoot_7A1j8Om_sized

Evanna Lynch– die her hair black and she is the perfect Anna.

The side characters also make the novel that much better. Cas is a loner by default, he never tries to make connections because he is always on the move to his next job. But this town came along with all sorts of complications. Here he meets Carmel, the popular girl at his high school who is surprisingly (and awesomely) not a total bitch. She is friendly, but she knows her self worth. She is confident, but she isn’t mean. She knows the power she wields in school grounds but she doesn’t take advantage of it. She is brave even though she doesn’t think she is. She is a totally awesome girl who you will come to love just as much, if not more, than Anna.

My Carmel:

The Vampire Diaries -- â??Down the Rabbit Holeâ? -- Pictured: Candice Accola as Caroline -- Image Number: VD414a_0122.jpg -- Photo: Annette Brown/The CW -- © 2013 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Thomas is the first to approach Cas and try to form a real friendship. He is a black mage, with a tiny side of mind reading powers. He is totally unpopular with the cool crowd, being too weird to really fit in anywhere. And the minute Cas rolls into town he notices not only how badass Cas is, but how much of a loner he is as well. Thomas is soon tagging along with Cas in order to solve the ghost hunting whether Cas wants his help or not.

I loved the dialogue! The writing is so witty, and yet so dark and gruesome at times. On one page you will be laughing and on the next you might want to look away from the gory scenes. Also this book did manage to shit you not raise the tiny hairs on my arm on how scary it gets at times (and how descriptive).

Bonus brownie points: Cas’ mom is in on the secret and she herself is a white witch. Hurray for YA novels that incorporate the parents!

My only issue with the novel: Why exactly DID Anna not kill Cas on sight? She mentions something about not being <I>made</I> to kill him, but by whom? Who is the puppeteer that moves her strings? And why was Cas spared?

If you like Supernatural, well then you will LOVE this book. This is like Supernatural for the YA crowd, it is Dean’s teenage years (only him without his father or his brother). It is fantastic, and did I mention that the dialogue is to die for? I cannot believe it took me so long to read this book, but on the other hand I am glad to find gems like this still hidden away among my stacks. Bought the sequel immediately.

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