About the book
Anna Dressed in Blood is the first book in the Anna series by Kendare Blake. The book was published by Orchard on 5th July and it is 384 pages long. This is a review of the UK ARC.
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.
(Taken from Goodreads.com)
What I thought
I'd been looking forward to reading Anna Dressed in Blood for quite some time now but for whatever reason, I kept putting it off. Due to having some decent time off work for once, I went on a bit of a reading spree and this book was one of those that I read. When I finally did manage to sit down with this one, I planned on only reading a couple of chapters. This was at about 8pm and by midnight I was still going and not far from finishing.
Kendare Blake doesn't waste any time in getting right into the story, explaining what protagonist Cas (Thesius Cassio) does. Even though Cas is a teenager, he kills ghosts. Yes, ghosts are already dead but Cas has a way to get rid of them once and for all to stop them from either haunting or causing insane amounts of trouble. With the use of a special knife, Cas is able to send the ghosts elsewhere, to wherever they actually belong, and rid the human world of them. I instantly loved the initial idea for this book as it was fresh, interesting and really exciting.
Cas goes on a pretty intense transformation throughout the book. Due to what he does, he and his mum move around a lot and this book sees him move to Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada. This made me insanely happy to see due to having been there myself. Anyway, Cas is quite the independent character who doesn't like to rely on anyone else. He knows that his job is dangerous and tries to involve as few people as possible. As the plot expands, Cas realises that he cannot do everything on his own and opens up to more people around him.
What brings Cas and his mother to Thunder Bay is a ghost called Anna, aka Anna Dressed in Blood. Anna was murdered in 1958 on the way to her high school dance while she had a pure white dress on and that's where she gets the name from. Anna has a massive reputation in Thunder Bay and with many teenagers going missing, she gets the blame. Anna is creepy as hell but I loved her! She's an insanely strong ghost who can rip people in two with her hands and just the descriptions of her freaked me out. I didn't think that a ghost like this could be such an amazing character but she was. I loved everything about Anna.
I wasn't expecting for this book to have such a strong horror element, even though the name does kind of give it away. Anna Dressed in Blood reminds me of a mix between American Horror Story and the 1999 film, House on Haunted Hill - both of which are things that I love! Blake throws in so many twists and turns that the book was constantly exciting. I never knew what was going to happen next or who was going to have something bad happen to them. There is some serious gore in this book so it isn't for the feint-hearted at all. I don't mind a bit of gore at all but even I was shocked with how detailed some of these scenes are.
Anna Dressed in Blood is easily one of my favourite books of this year. It was so different from everything else in the YA genre and I was hooked from the very first page. There is a slight romance element to the book as well but this was very unconventional which made me love it even more. Anna Dressed in Blood is dark, thrilling and intense with a hint of romance and some amazing friendships. A must read.