Author: Kendare Blake
Published: 30th August 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Number of Pages: 316
Purchase: Amazon, B&N, TBD
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.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a paranormal novel full-packed with suspense, horror but also a little bit of love. The story is about Cas, a teenager ghost hunter, who decided to carry forward this activity in honor of his father, that died, fighting a ghost. His job forces him and his mother (and their cat! (':) to always move wherever there is a need for a good ghosts cleaning; this means living alone, no friends and absolutely no girlfriends, in a few words no relationship at all. But when Cas arrives in a small town to kill the undefeated and legendary ghost Anna he will soon realise that his whole world is about to be upset: love, friendship but above all revenge.. yes, because the ghost who killed his father is now ready to discharge his anger toward Cas and his friends.
Anna Dressed In Blood was a really interesting read, it kept me housebound for the curiosity to know how the story would end up! Let's start with what impressed me the most: FINALLY a story told by a male point of view! It's so rare to find a fantasy book told by a male protagonist and this is something I really appreciated; it was so intriguing to read how Cas reacted in front of threats and especially how he reacted in front of a range of emotions he has never had the chance to experience before. Finally the chance to live in a man's head!
I think it was really original to write about a love between a ghost and a human, personally I've never read something similar; but maybe the love story was not well-developed because even if it was palpable the attraction of Cas toward Anna, they've shared a really few moments of intimacy and then, all of a sudden they fell in love.I'm sure the "love-story factor" will be strengthened in "Girl of Nightmares" but I was really disappointed by how little space was given to Cas and Anna.
The whole history of ghost hunting has made the book lively and engaging and it also contributed to create a kind of popular mythology, let me explain myself: I really liked the fact that Cas had to travel from town to town, based on urban legends. Every ghost had his/her own story, the reason why they died, the reason that kept them stuck in that particular place, in that house and the reason why they continued to kill people in a determinated way and it was REALLY interesting. I thought Anna's story was really fascinating and I kept reading because I wanted to know what caused her so much pain... and when I knew I was shocked!
Speaking of the characters, Cas was a particular guy, (and not just because he was a ghost hunter!) he liked to stay alone and just to focus on his goal; it was evident that this attitude was a consequence of his father's death, to whom e was very close, but in my opinion, he was afraid of getting closer to someone because I knew that if he had, he wouldn't have been able to move anymore. I liked how caring he was toward everyone (and that was another reason why he didn't want friends around) but especially toward Anna; for a ghost hunter, feeling something for the ghost you are supposed to kill shouldn't be easy! And here comes Anna, my favourite character; I think she's the strong point of the book because her character is full of meaning and drama. Apart from her story, that I don't want to spoiler, I was so touched by her double-personality: it was like she wanted to protect everyone from herself but at the same time she was forced to kill anyone who entered her house.
If you're looking for a creepy and engaging horror/fantasy novel, Anna Dressed in Blood is the book you should be looking for!