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11 Oct 2012

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

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.

Where do I start with the praise? Seriously, I was glued to this book, flicking page after page until I finally reached the end and started jumping at every noise.

Firstly, love the cover.  Anna looks very Grudge-like which is always a key to freaking me out.  Those Japanese ghosties can spook the hell out of me. 

The ghosts overall were my favourite part.  We jump straight into one of Cas' ghost hunts, learning about this ghostly hitchhiker who died a violent death and now appears to drivers on a night, wanting a ride before it kills anyone who picks it up.  That's what all these ghosts really stem from.  Violent, brutal deaths that keep them here, stuck in a loop of their death and forced to attack innocent humans.  It's tragic and scary at the same time and it's what Cas has chosen to deal with. 

I quite liked the Supernatural-esque feel to Cas' life.  Travelling around America and Canada to hunt ghosts from articles he's found and his dad's old contacts.  Only difference is there's an awesome cat, a mother who knows everything, and better living conditions.  Cas is a great character.  Great voice, quite snarky and dedicated to ghost hunting.  As a teenager he's clearly detached from a normal life, just sticking to what he knows, getting the job done, and moving on without making a friend.  But it's different this time around.  Anna is a tricky ghost to deal with and slowly he's gathered a group of friend and frenemies to stop this ghost from murdering more people.  The group is a fantastic mix.  Thomas the loner and Carmel the Queen Bee.  But there's nothing stereotypical about them.  They have their school status but that's it.  Thomas proves to be more usual than the bumbling sidekick who just ends up knowing about their supernaturally involved friend.  And Carmel is nothing like your typical Queen Bee Mean Girl.  She's likeable, what you see is what you get and she's ready to deal with a situation when it affects and targets her friends.  They made an excellent ghostbusting team and I hope we get to see them all again in the sequel. 

I was a little grossed out by Cas' relationship with Anna.  I get that he's not your typical teenage boy.  He's more connected and comfortable in the ghost world than he is in a high school.  But I could have done without the romance between Anna and Cas.  Sorry, Cas, but she's dead.  Stop with the obsession.  A friendship between a tragic ghost and ghost hunter sure but I couldn't root for the romance. 

I ordered Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) about a couple of chapters in to Anna Dressed in Blood.  It was one of those times where I know I'm really going to enjoy the book and the sequel.  And I loved every minute of it.  A great addition to YA Horror!


  1. I loved this book! I made my book club read it. :) I didn't mind the romance, but I see where you're coming from. I haven't started the sequel yet, but I'm excited to!

  2. Neither have I. =D Hope to see more from the new scooby gang in it!