02 March 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake


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.
Usually I’m not a horror person. I’ve never actually seen Jurassic Park all the way through in one setting. I’m a wimp. So I think you’ll understand when I say this book was, well, difficult for me. To be frank, it scared my pants off. I’m glad I read it, though, because along with being scary it was really, really good. Blake did very good character development. I loved how Cas, Thomas, Carmel, and even Anna grow as characters across the arc of the book. Although the ghost lore part of the story is well thought-through and laid plain for the reader there’s not a lot of backstory or obvious worldbuilding. The story doesn’t seem to need it, though. We see as much of the ghosts as Cas sees, and we know what he knows, so the unusual ghosts are exposed to us as Cas learns more of them. Blake manages to build tension without making it too heavy with her liberal use of sarcasm and witty one-liners from Cas. ***** SPOILERS ***** The only disconnect I could find was in between fixing Anna and finding the real killer. The tension could have been kept up a bit better by having a body be found before Anna was cured so the kids could wonder if she was leaving the house. Instead the letdown from freeing Anna let some of the air out of the book, making the end seem like it was racing instead of building. However, I really liked the romance that developed between Cas and Anna during and after her release from the curse. It seemed natural, appropriate to their ages and experiences, and very sweet. ***** END SPOILERS ***** In all, this was a very good book. I recommend it to anyone who wants a good scare with a love story sideline.

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