Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
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.
Alright, so I might as well start off with saying that, while I read many gory or supernatural books, I'm not that big of a fan of anything scary. I just . . . don't like them. Even a little bit of anything scary makes me scream away in terror. So then, while judging if I should read Anna Dressed in Blood, I thought, "Well, it's YA. It can't be that bad." And I'm so glad I told myself that and picked up this book, because, though it was scary and super creepy at times, I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
I loved Cas. I can tell you right now that he will definitely be one of my favorite heroes that I'll ever read about. He wasn't like the normal bad boy. He was bad and he was a boy, but he didn't put up this false cold front for everyone that wasn't his mother. His chilliness to others was out of necessity and he wasn't on this mission to make friends or be accepted throughout the book. He could have cared less, and I honestly wish that more characters in YA would show this example of just not caring about what others think or say. However, he did create friends, and it was not something that he had planned, but it was kind of cute to watch him try to interact with people his age. Cas was a natural-born badass and his confidence was infectious to me. He also just had a great voice. Cas was sarcastic and entertaining, making it easy for me to love him and enjoy the book.
Story wise, I seriously did surprise myself. I handled the book pretty well, and I actually slept like a baby at night (prior to, I was taking all necessary precautions to make sure nothing was lurking in any shadows and I avoided my attic at all costs). Anna was unlike anything I have ever read. It was creepy, mostly, and explicit with gruesome details. And those are not bad things at all. I liked it. Some books shy away from describing a violent scene, but I assure you, Blake has no problem with that--and it was sweet. Besides it being a little predictable at times, I also enjoyed the story. There's this whole trend for ghosts being good, harmless things that can't touch you. I don't mind reading them because, while I don't believe in ghosts, it puts my mind to rest. If you haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood yet, I suggest you throw away those ideas of good ghosts.
And expanding on how explicit the details were, I wanted to mention that the imagery in this book was spectacular. Truly amazing. I could see everything--could almost smell the air. It was such a lovely experience for me as a reader and made conjuring up these wily, unpleasant, corporal ghosts a little easier.
Oh! Have you ever read a book with cuss words in it and it just felt like it was all forced? That it didn't fit the characters or kind of stuck out of the text like--whoa? I don't mind cursing at all. If anything, I think that it makes the characters more believable because I have not met a teenager who has not cursed. A lot. And in Anna, Cas does curse, but it doesn't feel out of context or odd coming from him. I was extremely happy to read a book where I couldn't wait for Cas to curse because I knew it wasn't going to be a mental-cringe moment for me.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed a book that I thought I was going to hate. Not because of bad reviews or that the idea sounded bad, but because I underestimated my ability to swallow a semi-scary book. Anna Dressed in Blood was, as written in my review notebook, some "creepy ass shit". It was extremely well written and definitely changed my mind on how ghosts in books are in general. Blake brought to life a new and greatly disturbing (but in a good way) world with likable characters and a quick pace. For those who enjoy books with gruesome detail, evil, killer ghosts, and a likable male MC, I suggest you read Anna Dressed in Blood!