By: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours
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 was so much more than I was expecting, and I absolutely loved it. Creepy and thrilling, haunting and tragic, gothic and romantic, it is everything you could possibly want in a ghost story and everything you would never even think to ask for.
Cas has been hunting ghosts almost his whole life, ever since his father was murdered when he was just a kid. But there’s something different this time. Cas knows it from the moment he hears Anna’s name, and as he arrives in Thunder Bay and first meets Anna, he realizes this job is unlike anything he’s experienced before.
Cas is an incredibly relatable narrator, despite the fact that he hunts ghosts for a living. And he’s a boy! I love me a good male protagonist, it’s so refreshing to read. And Cas is suuuuch a boy. He’s a little overconfident and full of himself, but he’s also been through so much in his life and has a vulnerable side as well. It’s very endearing and the male perspective didn’t feel forced at all, which can occasionally happen with a female author. Not the case here.
I loved the development of the relationship between Cas and Anna. She’s absolutely terrifying and deadly, and yet we get the occasional glimpse of something else yearning to break through and be seen. This contrast between the scary, bloody Anna and softer side of the mortal girl she once was is riveting, and there are some really wonderful moments between Anna and Cas.
Anna is the first in a series, and I’m so eager to read more about Cas and his friends and their ghostly adventures. And at the same time, this is a completely satisfying stand-alone story. With so many novels these days ending on heartwrenching and jaw-dropping cliffhangers, it’s kind of awesome to have the first book in a series end on a conclusive note. Of course, having said that, I can’t wait for the next one. :)
Anna Dressed in Blood is a deliciously spooky and bloody ghost story, definitely one you don’t want to miss. It’s chilling and spine-tingling, managing to tug at your heartstrings and also completely freak you out at the same time. You might want to leave the lights on for this one.
*Thanks so much to Cindy from Around the World ARC Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. :)