Publisher: Tor Teen
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Google
If you know me at all, you know I don't like scary movies in the least. In fact, I watched a couple last Monday night, and couldn't sleep four complete hours that night. It was terrible. I avoid haunted houses like the plague. Scary things and I are not even acquaintances. But, sometimes something comes along that's so good that the frightening parts are completely overshadowed by the mindblowingness of the awesomeness. (<==that phrase is an odd one...) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake was just that. Sure, I can't walk under my attic at home without of thinking of a certain scene, but who cares? The experience and fun of reading the book was totally worth the fear.
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.
Anna Dressed in Blood is perfectly plotted and executed. It is creepy enough to make you want to keep all the lights on, yet so interesting you have to keep reading, despite how creeped out you are. Luckily, I managed to read most of the book during the day, though I did read the last 50 pages or so at night, and was super creeped out. I felt like a lot more was accomplished in the book than most YA novels I've been reading. Rather than having one complication for Cas to overcome in the one book, things just keep getting thrown at him. This kept the book from feeling nothing like the first of a series, even though it is.
Every character felt like a fully developed construct, not a filler. Cas was a wonderful narrator, with a very individual voice and specific demeanor. Cas is also the most gutsy seventeen year old I've read about in a long time. Killing those that are already supposed to be dead is something that would make me ruin my pants, personally, and Cas just runs in gung-ho, and for that I salute him.
Though Anna Dressed in Blood is narrated by and follows Cas, Anna is really the character that takes the focus, no mean feat for a book filled with so many good characters. At the beginning, the reader knows only what Cas knows: that Anna Dressed in Blood is a ruthless ghost that pulls those who enter her house into little pieces. Little do we know what lies behind that exterior. Anna is described as pale with long hair as dark as ink, and when she gets angry, it's a sight to behold. When we learn why Anna is the way she is we feel her pain and are horrified at her circumstances.
If you're looking for a YA horror book that will scare you out of your pants, yet is tolerable for even the biggest wimps (like me!) then look no further. Anna Dressed in Blood has answered the call, and you will not be disappointed. It can be as scary as you can imagine it. Once you finish it all you will be able to think about is that sequel, Girl of Nightmares, that is coming out next year.
Risk a paper cut? YES INDEEDY. Anna Korlov will scare your face off, but melt your heart at the same time.