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August 29, 2011

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
I only have one word to describe this book, from the cover to the story to the characters: badass. 

When Theseus Cassio Lowood, more commonly known as Cas Lowood, arrives in Thunder Bay, he's only got one thing on his mind--killing the ghost that the town refers to as 'Anna Dressed in Blood'. Armed with his dead father's powerful athame and protective herbs from his mother, a witch, Cas sets out to get rid of Anna once and for all before she can kill another person who enters her house. However, when Cas meets Anna, she makes no attempt to end his life--and so begins the haunting tale of Cas's attempt to figure out what really happened to Anna Korlov.

To call Anna Dressed in Blood a thriller is the biggest understatement of the year. Anyone who knows me well is aware that I don't have much tolerance for horror films. Then again, staring at gruesome creatures on a screen seems much more frightening then reading words off a page, right? Wrong. I'm so glad I didn't opt to read this book during the night hours; trust me, it would not have ended well. That goes to show you how brilliant Kendare Blake's writing really is--she literally made the story come alive right before my eyes.

Cas and Anna are both extremely strong characters. I loved that Anna Dressed in Blood was written from the male perspective; I haven't seen much of that in YA paranormal novels and it was rather refreshing. While I really don't care for foul language in books, the usage in this one was understandable and easy to overlook with such an intense plot. Between the cursing and the violence, I'd recommend this book for older/mature teens and adults. Paranormal and horror fans will not be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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