Saturday, 3 December 2011

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (17 Oct 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0765328658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765328656

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.
Cover: A perfect cover.  Suits the book down to the ground.  Just how I imagined the creepy house to look, and Anna on the cover is perfect, even down to the dress dripping blood.  Beautifully eerie.  

Plot:  When Cas's father was murdered by a ghost he tried to kill Cas took over his vocation.  Every ghost he's killed since has been training.  Training to take out the ghost that killed his father.  Anna Dressed In Blood is the test...the penultimate kill, if he can take her on he will be ready for his father's murderer.  However it doesn't go to plan.  He finds a girl cursed...and Anna may be a separate being from the brutal killer that kills anyone that enters her house.  But...she doesn't kill him.

I didn't know what to expect from this book.  I don't know how but I had both high and low expectations from this book (I know right?!).  I am not a horror person.  I don't do horror films or books, I am wimp when it comes to them but can admit it.  But when I heard of Anna Dressed In Blood the synopsis hooked me in, and despite it being YA horror I had this compulsion to know why Anna doesn't kill Cas, and Cassandra Clare blurbed it so extra props there.
Plus it's in a male character perspective which in YA there isn't enough of.
I loved this book.  It has to be a 5/5 star book.  I loved the mystery and creepy factor in this book, and my initial fears of my being scared out of my wits were unfounded and when it actually came for the first kill of the story I actually found myself gripped and on the edge of my seat instead of scared, wanting more (which probably does make me disturbed in some way).
The plot was excellent and some parts I really didn't see coming (i.e. the violent murder Anna commits the first time we see her or her back story came as a shock to me).   
Characters are definitely the best thing about this book.  Cas (and I love Kendare Blake for giving him a truly unique and memorable name which really does stand out, Theseus Cassio Lowood) is a great character and his humour adds some much needed light heartedness to the story.  His unlikely friendship with Thomas is one of my favourite aspects of the book.
The book definitely has an authentic feel to it, the author has done her research into vodoo and wicca and that really comes across.  For example Cas's  mother cleans his knife by placing it in a jar of salt and putting it under the moon for three nights.
For me this book was just amazing.  When I finished it I just though "wow".  I have never read anything like it and it is definitely one of my favourites now.  I loved it enough to consider looking into more horror type books from now on but not too horrific...Anna Dressed In Blood was low enough on the horror scale to be just right for me.
The end was is now an excruciating wait for book 2, Girl of Nightmares which has to be right at the top of my most anticipated releases of 2012.
I would recommend this to any fans of YA paranormal or horror books.  If you want to try horror but haven't or are worried it's not for you, I would start here like I did.

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