Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
Author: Kendare Blake
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Ghosts
Source: Borrowed from Library
Book Description from Goodreads:
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.
I thoroughly traumatized myself with ghost films as a kid and for the longest time I couldn’t watch them without huddling under a blanket and keeping a night light on. It wasn’t until I saw my first episode of Supernatural back in 2005 that I really got over my fear of ghosts because I realized that “Hey there’s really good looking guys that hunt ghosts and there’s totally rational ways to fight them”. It was their sense of finality at the end of the episodes that made me realize, well the ghost is gone and there’s nothing to fear (most of the time). This sense of safety is what I immediately felt upon beginning to read Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas Lowood embodies the Supernatural hunter vibe with cool confidence and deadly skills as he takes on “the family business”.
The cover features a gorgeous and haunting Anna in her signature white dress dripping with blood amid her Victorian home swirled in fog. I love the black and whiteness of the cover with accents of blood red! The version I read also featured a rusted blood red color for the font that compliments the mood of the story.
The story begins with Cas taking the reader through the logistics of ghost hunting, from the research to the props and finally the execution. I was immediately hooked by the rich details and the histories of the ghosts he hunts.
Cas has taken over ghost hunting ever since the death of his father at the hands of a very powerful and mysterious supernatural entity. As Cas and his witch mother move from one town to another in search of ghosts to put down, while Cas plans his revenge on the creature that killed his father. We end up in the Canadian city of Thunder Bay, Ontario as Cas follow’s Anna’s bloody trail to her doorstep.
Cas’ character is strong, confident (maybe a bit overconfident at times) and he has a hilarious sarcastic sense of humour. He’s got a very lone ranger method to ghost hunting and has a few acquaintances that he gets information from around the world. So when he moves to a new place he makes it his business to stay remote, and avoids making friends, but he definitely knows how to turn the charm on to get what he wants.
Anna’s ghost has a history that’s been shrouded in local legend and with all places that are haunted there are always drunk teenagers that stumble in to test their courage. Only this time, it’s not just a story and Anna is one of the most powerful ghosts that Cas has ever seen. The dichotomy of Anna’s character is what’s so interesting about her. One on hand she’s a blood fuelled, terrifying violent spirit that has an ever increasing body count to her name, but on the other hand with Cas the hurt she’s been through is visible as well as a lonely human side. When we finally find out her story, it was heartbreaking, and something completely out of left field. Anna also manages to get Cas out of being a tunnel vision hunter, she makes him question what he’s doing if it’s as righteous as he feels it is, she pretty much shakes up Cas’ whole life and it really makes him grow up a bit.
The secondary characters were an amazing cast who Cas originally only befriended because he needed them for their respective knowledge and skills, but they end up turning into something more. In turn each character such as Thomas who’s quite shy and a loner gets more courageous and Carmel, who I originally disliked because I figured she was the super peppy popular girl whose only skill is to scream, actually turned out to be pretty bad ass, and a great friend.
What Cas thought was just another job turned into something far more dangerous than just figuring out Anna’s story. There were so many twists and turns in this story that definitely kept me hooked all the way to the dramatic ending! Blake’s writing is so descriptive and it works well for when we’re taken back in time to recount the ghost’s moments before death. She also writes some really graphic- eye popping violence scenes and introduces some new aspects to ghosts that I’ve never really thought of before. I also love Blake’s little nods to Canadians by setting the story in a Canadian city, and things like Saskatoon Berry Jam (which is delicious by the way!).
Rating: 5/5 Steaming HOT Cups of tea!
Overall this is definitely an amazing ghost story! If you’re a fan of Supernatural, then pick this one up!