Anna Dressed in Blood
Anna, Book #1
By Kendare Blake
Author’s Website: http://kendareblake.com/
Brought to you by OBS staff member Annabell
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 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: 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.
Do you remember what you were little and heard the small creaking sounds in the still of the night? Do you remember stuffing yourself under your comforter in the hopes that whatever was making the scary noise would think you were invisible?
Anna Dressed in Blood will take you right back to feeling just like a five year old and asking for your mom to spend the night. Or perhaps, booting up Google on your computer and shelling out some cash to buy your very own athame in order to tackle down the head the way the lead, Cas, does in the book.
As much as we all know there are no so called normal families, Cassius Theseus Lowood (how awesome is that name by the way!) takes the cake. His mother is a white witch and his father was in the business of killing the dead (yes, I am well aware how much that sounds like an oxymoron) but his father helps to put the dead stalkers of the living world to rest finally. Until, Cas’s father is killed by one of the ghosts he was hunting in a rather horrible way. Cas took over in his father’s place chasing after ghosts who refuse to leave the place in which they died and unable to escape the memories of the violent crimes they had been killed in. Many of them seek revenge against the world outside of them. Cas also took over his father’s powerful athame.
He travels to Thunder Bay in Canada with his mother on a tip of a ghost that has killed over twenty-seven victims. Anna is the name of the ghost who acts more as a demonic serial killer. She was killed in 1958 and the rumors behind her story are that she was killed on her way to the prom dressed in a beautiful white dress. Her throat was sliced beyond recognition and she gained the nickname Anna Dressed in Blood.
When Cas gets stuck inside Anna’s house via an evil prank, he can barely defend himself against her fury but is surprised when she spares his life. Not just once but twice. Cas soon discovers there is far more to Anna’s story than he thought and she will be the ghost who changes his life.
Even though Cas is your predictable brooding-anti-social-loner due to his job description, he was still my favorite character in the book. His sarcasm and honesty was fantastic. He could sometimes come off with way too much angst that it bordered on “confessions of a teenage girl” but I appreciated his impulsiveness and tough as nails attitude. He was more used to dealing with the dead than the living. It was fun to watch him feel out of place gaining actual friends and realizing he could have more in his life than just ghosts and death.
Carmel, at the beginning, annoyed me. She was your typical most popular girl in the high school persona, but underneath that stardom she carries herself with strength and has a good heart. Even when she’s scared, she still stands her ground and I respected her character more for that.
Thomas, who becomes Cas’s sidekick without Cas asking him to, was such a cute nerd! I loved how awkward and shy he would get when Carmel was around. He always seemed to lose his ability to think rationally when she was in his presence and it was very cute.
Anna is a killer and a monster. But underneath her demonic powers and extreme Goth get up, Anna is actually a victim of a deeply disturbed and cruel mother. The truth behind what happened to her was heart breaking. She’s actually an innocent girl who didn’t deserve the fate she was dealt. Anna is fiercely strong and remorseful of the actions she had no power to control.
The story is told from Cas’s point of view and was done well. The reader really gets absorbed into his world of death and raged filled spirits. It’s dark and gruesome and not a story for the faint of heart. But as Cas learns to trust and build a friendship with Carmel and Thomas, you see light shine into his soul.
The book is filled with wonderful suspense and vivid descriptions of both the characters and the world Cas lives his life in. The tension and pace are built up quite nicely. There’s also a twist in the romance department. I love that the popular girl didn’t fall for the brooding new kid in town. Cas’s romance story is a bit predictable and really strange, but oddly sweet nonetheless.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a very dark themed book: Anna’s murder is explained in detail and so are the tales of what happened to many of the other ghost. Also, the ones Anna murdered are told in detail. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone under the age of sixteen since the scenes can be intense. Some of the plot is too predictable and Cas can get annoying with his brooding-I’m stronger than the world-I’ve survived death time and time again-attitude but he’s still a great character. Cas’s mother had a tendency to be absentminded and wasn’t developed anywhere near as well as Cas or Anna. The story behind the villain wasn’t as powerful a build up as the author let on but I did like the way the villain came into the story.
Any fan of horror and paranormal will find themselves unable to put the book down until they have read the final sentence of the final page. I look forward to seeing what the author does with the sequel.