Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)

By Kendare Blake

Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

To Sum It Up: Being a ghost hunter/killer necessarily involves seeing things which are out of the ordinary. Cas Lowood has certainly witnessed his share, so when it comes to all things supernatural, there isn’t much that can surprise him anymore. Cas’s next destination is Thunder Bay, Ontario to investigate the legend of the ghost whom the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood. The real Anna Korlov was a 16-year-old girl who was killed on her way to a school dance; now her ghost is rumored to kill anyone who sets foot in her old home. Cas thinks that this is going to be just another routine job until he comes face-to-face with Anna for the first time. She’s the most powerful ghost he’s ever encountered, and he knows that she won’t be easy to kill. Cas hopes to find her weakness by looking into her past, but instead he finds a tragic story that makes him question whether he can finish the task that he set out to do.

Review: Wow, wow, and wow! This book just may have turned me into a horror fan. Because I am an utter wuss, I usually stay away from any book or movie that is remotely scary. I’ve been attempting to be braver lately by trying books that normally, I’d shy away from. The zombies in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Infinity weren’t bad at all, and I had a lot of fun reading about the evil Crits in Emma Silver’s Blackbrooke. Since I was on a bit of a roll with the creepy creatures books, it was an ideal time to give in to my cousin Melissa’s pleas to read Anna Dressed in Blood, which she’d loved. Melissa was right: this book was amazing!

With a pretty eerie-sounding title like Anna Dressed in Blood and a pretty eerie-looking cover to match, I expected this to be one bone-chilling read. It was in some parts, but the book was also surprisingly moving and even laugh-out-loud funny thanks to Cas’s frequent sarcastic remarks. I loved Cas’s snarky demeanor; even when facing imminent death, he still managed to crack a joke. Cas is also really smart, and I admired his determination to avenge the death of his ghost hunter father, who was killed by a ghost. I’ve read several YA books this year with strong male protagonists in them, and Cas is definitely among that group.

The secondary characters are also very well-developed. I really grew to like Thomas Sabin, a geeky telepath and classmate of Cas’s whom Cas regards as a bit of a nuisance at first. By the end of the novel, though, Thomas has proven himself to be a brave and loyal friend. Another character who surprised me with her depth was Carmel Jones, another classmate of Cas’s who also turns out to be a true friend to him. When Cas initially meets her, he pegs her as the Queen Bee of the school. Carmel is actually made of steelier stuff, though, and along with Thomas, aids Cas in trying to unravel the mystery behind Anna’s death.

As for the title character, Anna is beyond terrifying when we first meet her. I happened to read about one of her more frightening appearances in the book at about 12:30 in the morning. I knew that continuing to read this part in the middle of the night wasn’t the brightest idea, yet I couldn’t put the book down. One of the best things about Anna Dressed in Blood was how Kendare Blake had me frightened of Anna at the outset of the novel and then had me feeling nothing but sympathy for her once the tragic history of her life was revealed. Anna may be a ghost, but Blake imbues her character with a stunning amount of dimension.

I can’t rave enough about how well-written and perfectly paced this book is. Reading it took me on a fantastic roller coaster ride of reactions: amusement at Cas’s humorous narration, outrage and sadness upon learning the truth about what really happened to Anna, and of course fear whenever Anna was in murderous-ghost mode. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Girl of Nightmares!

All in All: This is an absolute must-read. It even won over a non-horror fan like me. I definitely want to buy a copy of this book for my shelves.

Favorite Quote: You’ll be just like those four chaps in the movie. You know the one, with the oversized marshmallow.Gideon Palmer, an old friend of Cas’s family, Chapter 13


  1. I have never read horror in YA before, but Anna Dressed in Blood sounds delightfully scary. I'm also a totally wuss but I've been trying to get into zombies and the like, since that seems to be the growing theme in YA.

    1. Zombies definitely seem to be the latest trend in YA. In my continued effort to be a less cowardly reader, I'll be reading another zombie book soon (Courtney Summers's This Is Not a Test).

  2. I sucketh! I should've grabbed a copy when the price dropped on Amazon.

    1. I do that all the time! I'll spot a book on sale, take forever debating whether or not I should still spend the money even though it's on sale, then BAM! It's back to the original price. :(


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