Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

9378297Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 30th 2011
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Review copy purchased by yours truly.

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…
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.

Anna Dressed in Blood could be pitched as Supernatural meets Goosebumps, or something in between. The main character, Cas Lowood, reminded me a lot of Dean and Sam in the Tv series Supernatural. Cas spends most of his time hunting ghosts, and that makes him totally awesome. However, especially at the beginning of the novel, I had the feeling it also made him one of the biggest jerks walking around on this planet. When he gets to his new school, he walks around acting like he’s the coolest thing since the invention of ice cream. Sorry to say, but ghost hunting doesn’t make you that awesome. I mean, the ghost busters did it, and they didn’t end up redefining the meaning of ‘cool’. Add to that how Cas keeps on repeating he’s the only person alive (notice my pun?) who can slay ghosts, and you’ve got me feeling triple annoyed. Is it necessary to rub it in? And is it even true? I mean, why would I believe a high-school kid when he tells me he’s the only one out there who can kill ghosts? And it’s not even because of who he is – if I got the story correctly – but because of some magical dagger. Uhu. I’m not convinced.

Then we have the ghost. Anna. She’s deliciously creepy and has a reputation that would make any experienced ghost hunter run the hell out of her domain. Unfortunately though, she doesn’t pull it off. Not because she doesn’t have some insane tricks up her sleeves, but because for some reason she decides Cas is worth saving. She gives up her evil poltergeist ways and doesn’t kill Cas, for a reason that’s beyond me. It’s never explained more than feeling some sort of connection, and it kept me feeling annoyed. Why Cas? What’s so special baout Cas that the most terrifying ghost I’ve ever come across – one even Sam and Dean would have trouble with – decides to turn into a goody-two-shoes and turn her life upside down? I don’t get it.

What else I didn’t like? Are those kids in this book even normal, or are they seriously disturbed? At the beginning of the book, one of the teenagers entering Anna’s Haunted Mansion dies horribly. And when I say horribly, I mean horribly. Instead of crying, breaking down or fearing for their lives, his supposed friends make up some half-assed story about what happened and seem more concerned about coming up with a convincing lie than the fact their friend just died. That definitely didn’t work for me. Add on top of that the seemingly random explanation as to why Cas’ dagger can kill ghosts, and you’ve lost me. I didn’t think it was convincing at all, in fact it just added to the confusion. Another thing I couldn’t live with was Cas’ Mom. Her husband died ghost hunting, yet she merrily lets her oldest son ghost hunting. In real life, I doubt that would happen.

I liked the romance, or at least parts of it. I didn’t understand the attraction between Cas and Anna, and I’d liked it if the author would’ve explained it more. Now I think Cas likes Anna because she’s strong, and he feels sympathetic toward her, but I don’t get why Anna would like Cas. At all. Why him and not every other boy who walked through her front door? It annoyed me beyond belief. What I liked about it was that it was original. Opposed to going for the easy romance – Carmal and Cas- author Kendare Blake didn’t take the easy road out and went for the relationship between the ghost and the ghost hunter. Another aspect I liked was the villain. He came out of nowhere (almost like a deus machina) but he was well-thought-through and original. Bonus points for that.

All in all, I did get what the hype was all about. Anna Dressed in Blood offers originality, horror, a healthy dose of humor and an intriguing and unique romance story between a vengeful spirit and the boy supposed to kill her. But it fell flat on some accounts. The characters were odd at times, their actions and reactions not entirely believable, and the romance didn’t work entirely either. I would recommend this book to all YA fans, but more because of its general idea than its execution.


  1. Wow! And here I was itching to buy this.

    • It has a lot of good reviews on Goodreads. I guess I just felt underwhelmed by it. There were so many obvious things wrong with the book that I found myself often rolling my eyes. But a lot of people like it, so maybe I’m just the odd one out here.

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