Saturday, October 29, 2011

ARC Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

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. (summary from Goodreads)

Anna Dressed in Blood is a thrilling and creeptastically awesome read that will raise your hair and have you turning on all of the lights!

Theseus Cassio Lowood - or Cas, as he prefers to be called - has been raised in the world of ghost hunting. His father was a hunter, and now it's his fight. Cas is determined to be the best he can be; to take down the scariest and strongest ghosts he can before facing the one that terrifies him the most: the one that killed his father 10 years ago. So when Cas hears about 'Anna Dressed in Blood', murdered in her white party dress over 50 years ago and killing anyone who enters her house, he moves himself and his wiccan mother to Thunder Bay, Ontario to confront her. Cas is drawn to Anna. There's something different about her...and it's not just that she doesn't kill him. All is not as it seems and Cas is in for some deadly surprises.

Anna Dressed in Blood is most definitely one of my favourite reads of 2011! As soon as I first heard about it, I knew I'd love it, and I wasn't wrong. Blake has weaved a fantastic story full of twists and thrills that keep you so desperate to read more the pages practically turn themselves. Anna Dressed in Blood has a killer beginning, starting with a bang that continues right through to the last page. Blake certainly knows how to bring the scare! Sometimes it's plain in your face horror while at others it's a slow build creeping up on you, causing shivers to run down your spine. There were a few times I got spooked enough that goosebumps raised along my arms! Granted, it didn't help that I read it in the middle of the night with only my tiny booklight. Blake's descriptions took over my imagination so that more than once I shone my light around my room...just to make sure no ghosts - or Anna - were lurking about! What's great is that Anna Dressed in Blood isn't just about the spooks but is a full on suspensful read with a lot of action, a little romance, and hints at a history that I'm definitely looking forward to learning more of in upcoming books.

Like Cas, I too found myself drawn to Anna. Quite simply, I adored her, sweet girl next door, black veins, and murderous rage included. Her story is compelling and had me desperate to get answers. I especially enjoyed her interactions with Cas, as I loved the insights they provided, both regarding her and Cas. It is Cas who drives the story though. He's a great main character; witty, brave and vulnerable all at once. Despite what he does, he's easy to connect with, still learning as he goes and never too overconfident. I felt like I was on the journey with him, discovering as he did. His relationships with other characters also adds even more to the emotional elements of the story. The understanding between Cas and his Mum was nice to see, but it was made all the more real because of the underlying tension. Let's face it, no mother wants to see their kid endangering their life, especially hunting ghosts, even if it is a calling family calling. I also can't go past Thomas and Caroline, new friends Cas reluctantly finds himself making. Particularly Thomas, who is the embodiment of the fun, quirky, loner sidekick you can't help but love. These supporting characters added some much needed dimension to Cas's life, as well as some humour!

Just quickly, I must admit to being a tad surprised by the romance elements of Anna Dressed in Blood. Honestly, I suppose I just wasn't expecting much of it or for it to fall how it did. But this is in no way a bad thing, because I absolutely loved it. Blake certainly earns even more points for leaving me sighing a little dreamily in the midst of the moments where I was pretty much quivering in terror!

I know the comparison has been made before, but if you're a fan of the television series Supernatural, you'll love Anna Dressed in Blood. And even if you're not, read it anyway because I don't think you'd be disappointed. Blake's book is a compulsive read from page one and you won't want to put it down - unless it's to investigate any weird creaking noises...just in case. And with it's wow ending, you'll be as desperate as I am for it's sequel, Girl of Nightmares...is it 2012 yet?!

Rating:

Publisher: Tor Teen
Published date: 30 August 2011
Pages: 316

Challenge: 2011 Debut YA Author Challenge

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