Publisher: Tor Teen (August 30, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, ebook
Cas Lowood isn’t your average teenager. Actually - he’s unlike any other person you’ve ever met. He’s a ghost killer (but please don’t call him a ghostbuster). Like his father before him, Cas has the unenviable job of hunting those spirits which still haunt this earth, hurting and killing people in their wake. With his father’s magical and deadly athame blade, Cas is able to send these murderous spirits away from this world. He travels with his mother (a white witch) and Tybalt, their ghost sensing cat, while secretly preparing himself to find and kill his father’s murderer. When he gets a tip about a ghost known as Anna Dressed In Blood out in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Cas knows that she is his next target. The story of a young Anna Korlov, murdered in 1958, inexplicable draws him. Once there, Cas tries to kill Anna but she is too strong - the strongest ghost he’s ever encountered. And she doesn’t kill him. But why? As Cas tries to figure this out he also starts to unravel the mystery of Anna Dressed In Blood.
Kendare Blake blends horror and teen angst into a delightfully creepy novel that will have you staying up late at night and turning on all the lights. It’s been awhile since I’ve been scared by a book but Anna Dressed In Blood managed it thoroughly. Cas, a jaded 17-year-old, has followed in his father’s footsteps to become a hunter of angry ghost spirits. In Blake’s world, when someone dies a violent death, they don’t always go away to where they are meant to. In her world, both good and bad people can come back as dark, twisted ghosts that lure the living to horrible deaths. Cas stops them by tracking them and setting a trap. Then he uses his mystical athame to send them away to parts unknown. Ghost killing is a gory business and Blake’s descriptions are often gruesome and chilling.
Cas is a complex character. Afraid to let anyone too close, he isolates himself and avoids making any real human connections. I admire Cas but I don’t always like him. He’s cocky and his snarkiness, especially towards those who want to help him, gets old. His father’s death has also made him bitter and serious. But he is also loyal and protective and I liked him more as the book went on. Forced to work with others for the first time, he learns to trust his friends.
Let’s not forget Anna. When we first meet her she is tearing a human body to pieces - one of many people we’ve been told that Anna has killed over the years. She is vicious and terrible but, we learn, she may not be evil. Complicated? You bet. But Blake deftly manages Anna’s evolution from angry, murderous spirit into someone you can sympathize with. Along with Cas and Anna, there is an interesting cast of secondary characters. New friends Tim and Carmel are opposites in the school heirarchy. One is awkward and dabbles in magic and the other is the school’s queen bee, but both are more than their reputations. Morfran, Will, Cas’s mother and their ghost sniffing cat Tybalt round out the eclectic group.
At times frightening, tragic, funny and creepy, Anna Dressed In Blood is a gripping read that you’ll have a hard time putting down. I look forward to Anna’s return in the sequel, Girl Of Nightmares, coming out next year.
You can follow her on twitter: @kendareblake
If you liked this review, please come check out our other YA and younger book reviews at Read Now Sleep Later and our adult book reviews at Nite Lite .
Thanks, Aly, for letting us guest post on your blog!
And thank you Thuy for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on Anna Dressed in Blood. I can't wait to pick up a copy, but I will definitely be reading this one with the lights on. :-)