Anna Dressed in Blood
By Kendare Blake
Kindle book description:
“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.”
Everything about this book hooked me — the title, the cover, the first couple of pages. I was delighted when I realized the main character was a boy. Which is the only problem with the book: This is a boy book, so what’s with the cover? The cover sells this as a girl book. I realize a lot of girls will read boy books or books with boy main characters, but a lot of boys will not read a book that looks girly. And this cover does. I think they’ve missed a big chunk of sales with this cover. But more girls read than boys, so maybe they went with the bigger audience.
It’s a shame, because boys would love this book. It’s gory; the main character is cool and self-assured, not a sweet Edward-type of guy completely focused on a girl; and the romance isn’t too heavy. I mean, the love interest is a ghost, so the romance is fairly platonic. His goal isn’t to fall in love, it’s to avenge his murdered father. The girl is just a side dish.
And Anna is quite a dish, with her white skin covered in snaking purple veins, her black lips, her eyes like oil drops, her dead dragging feet, her floating hair, her cold hands strong enough to rip people apart. She’s pretty and murderous and brave. At first I thought the human Carmel would be his love interest, and I was disappointed. She’s just so average. Anna is weird and scary and kicks butt, which makes her a great heroine for a boy book.
Did I mention it’s bloody? Blood everywhere. Boys would love this! Blood drips from Anna’s dress and pools on floors. Bodies are stacked rotting in the basement. Boys get cleaved in half by bare hands. Ghosts are sliced into oblivion.
Girls will love this book too. Cas is cute, laid-back, and unimpressed by the popular crowd. The cool outsider. The romance is sweet and his relationship with his mother is nice. She’s afraid for him but respectful of his talent. For both girls and boys, the “bad guy” is really creepy. The book is plenty bloody, but I wasn’t offended. I think anything less wouldn’t have fit the story.
I like that the book ends at the ending. A sequel is obviously coming, but the author ties up the loose ends and leaves the characters ready for a completely new story. Will Anna reappear? I sure hope so!
Gory, creepy, scary, bloody … a ghost story that stands out from the crowd.