Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Posted 09/21/2011 by alicemarvels in Horror
Theseus Cassio Lockwood, or Cas, inherits his father’s ghost-slicing athame, and his talent for sniffing out and facing vengeful ghosts. When we first encounter him, he’s finishing off his latest ghost-hunting mission – a poor murdered hitchhiker who can’t seem to stop reliving his death, and taking any nearby human with him.
Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost so named because she wears a dripping, terrible blood-stained dress, stands out amongst the many letters and tips he receives of dangerous ghosts who need a bit of help moving on (from the business end of his athame). She creeps in as an obsession, and he is determined to kill her, so he and his mother head off to Thunder Bay, where Anna resides in a house filled with the ghosts of the people she’s murdered.
When Anna and Cas first meet, it’s gruesome and terrifying, and the events echo through your mind each time Cas returns to the house, which itself seems menacing. During each new encounter, it’s impossible not to hang on Anna’s every move and word with fearful anticipation. Cas refers to her as a goddess, a hurricane, and that’s an accurate, if mild, description.
I found myself riveted by their encounters, and not in an “oh my god I think they like each other – hell yeah paranormal romance!” kind of way, but more in a “holy shizz these characters are seriously dangerous to each other, and should quickly kill each other if they know what’s good for them….wait, why aren’t they killing each other??” way.
The ending definitely left me wanting a sequel, which I expect was the intent. But all in all, it was an amazing story that never pandered or played to expectations. So, yeah I pretty much loved it. For lots of reasons, but mostly these:
Top 5 Reasons Anna Dressed in Blood rocked my pants
1. I fell in love with Cas
I loved Cas. He’s calculating, smartass, cynical, and vulnerable, and he can read both people and ghosts incredibly well. Reading Cas is a bit like watching Holden Caulfield with a supernatural life purpose, navigating nasty murderous ghosts and nastier high school social situations. I was simultaneously in awe of him and deeply sorry for him. A man on a mission, he is so devoted to it that he goes through life like a ghost himself. Perhaps that’s why he relates to Anna better than he does his newly made human friends.
2. I nearly peed my pants from terror
This book doesn’t spare you from gore and violence, and the ghostly unknown around every corner (and known, for that matter) is positively terrifying. Kendare does a good job of building up tension so you feel you are about to burst – not just when it comes to Anna, but with Cas and his father’s murderer. There is an ominous, thick, suffocating atmosphere over that whole storyline, and you’re just waiting for it clear so you can see the horrific truth.
3. Vengeance is sweet, and unforgettable
If you’re a Kill Bill-style “sock it to the sleazeballs” lover, you’re going to appreciate some sweet and sick bully payback that will leave you actually feeling sorry for the bully.
4. Anna broke my heart
What happened to Anna to turn her into this murderous malevolent spirit is tragic, and once I found out, I couldn’t really stay angry at her over her crimes, even though on paper, I know I should. As a ghost, she’s killed countless humans in equally, if not more barbaric ways (for proof, see her basement). But she is a more human ghost than some of the high school garden variety jerks in this book. You can’t help but root for Anna, which is not fun, because there is a never a moment when you feel like she will be spared, or even should be spared, and early on, you know the plot takes no prisoners.
5. Cat power
I love sassy cats with a sixth sense, and I finally found one to rival my fave YA cat, Church from Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices. I kept inventing wild storylines for Tybalt, and entertained several red herrings based on his reactions. I won’t tell you whether I was right, or what happens to him, but the fact that he creeped around my subconscious so often while reading this was definitely a victory for fictional cat kind.
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