Friday, 22 November 2013

Review - Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake


Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)


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.

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Holy. Wow. I don’t remember being genuinely creeped out by a ghost story in a long while, but there’s something about Anna Dressed In Blood that makes you jump at sudden noises and want to look over your shoulder in case you’re being watched by something sinister. Kendare Blake’s brilliantly creepy novel is one of the best YA ghost stories I’ve read, and earns bonus points for having great character development, something which is sometimes neglected in horror stories which can often be more about the scares than the characters.

Cas is a believable teen male protagonist, whose narration carries the story along with both humour and enough emotional depth to make him likeable. He’s a ghost hunter who has taken on his deceased father’s role of dispatching restless, violent spirits with his athame blade. But when he receives word of a spirit known as Anna Dressed In Blood committing gruesome murders in the town of Thunder Bay, Ontario, this becomes more than just another job and he finds himself developing a connection with the spirit.

Kendare Blake does a fantastic job of creating an ominous atmosphere with enough details to immerse the reader completely and keep the suspense running throughout. The plot is well-paced, and the subplot of Cas’s desire to kill the spirit which murdered his father ties into the main plot in an ingenious and unpredictable way. There is a romantic element, but thankfully it never draws the focus away, and this remains a suspenseful and spine-tingling tale from beginning to end. 

Rating: ****1/2*

8 comments:

  1. I've heard of Anna Dressed In Blood before, but admittedly didn't know much anything about it. Your review makes it sound amazing!

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    1. Glad I could help! It's well worth a read! :)

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  2. I've always wanted to read this novel but ghost stories creep me out! I loved Libba Bray's The Diviners, but I was so scared reading it. :)
    Nice review though!

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    1. I loved The Diviners, too! :) I think this is about on the same level, scare-wise, so you should be fine!

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  3. I'm working up the nerve to read a horror story. This is majorly tempting. Ah screw it...I'll add it to my reading list. I'll read it during the day. :)

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  4. I totally have this book in my TBR pile and just can't seem to get to it, but your review is making me move it up the list now. Thanks for the nudge and the great review! (BTW, I've also noticed a lack of character development in horror, too. It's annoying isn't it? Scares are good, but you won't really be scared unless you completely believe in the characters.)

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    1. Yes! That's why I loved your book! :) (review is coming in the next couple of weeks!)

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