Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011

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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Oh boy!  Someone is getting bumped off of my "Top 10 YA Books of 2011" list, because this book just earned a place high on it!  Wow!  What an awesome read!  This is one of those books that does not let go once it has you in its clutches!  It is really difficult for me to believe that this is Kendare Blake's debut novel because she writes like a seasoned pro.  She did a bang-up job with the character development, world building, plot, and pacing.  I just don't have any complaints.  I am officially a Kendare Blake fangirl!  Now that I've said that, I can delve a little deeper into why...

First off, I'm a sucker for books that are told from a male protagonist's POV; there are not enough books like this, and I usually find myself loving them.  Add to that the fact the male in question is an epic character.  Cas is a ghost hunter- he "kills" the worst of the dead, the ones who kill humans where they haunt- and he's damn good at it.  As you can imagine, a teenage boy with his job might have some morbidity issues.  Compound that with the fact that his occupational predecessor was killed on the job, and also happened to be his father.  Cas is a complicated character; dark, mysterious, sexy, and detached.  All he needs is the right woman to bring out his feelings, right?  But what if that woman happens to be a violently murderous ghost that he is responsible for taking out?

And that brings me to another reason I loved this book- Anna.  She was terrifying, tragic, and absolutely believable.  The mysteries surrounding her were so unpredictable and utterly riveting.  An YA mystery that isn't predictable is a rare, rare thing, and I was so impressed that I never figured her out.  As far as the other characters were concerned, while I didn't like them all, I never felt like anyone was flat.  They all had their stories and reasons why they were who they were.  I think it's important to be able to connect on some level- like, love, or hate- with supporting characters, and Kendare Blake makes sure her readers do.

As far as the story itself is concerned, it was fabulous!  It was gory and mind-bendingly scary much of the time, but at other times, it was tender and full of emotion.  One thing it never was, was dull.  It's pace was quick, but even; I stayed up far too late the first night reading it, starting again the moment I woke the following morning.  In the meantime, I dreamed about it.  It was that good.

Finally, I have to comment on the aesthetics...  Is the cover not to die for?  I love the black and white image, with just the smallest bit of red.  As is the case with a lot of the books I read, I was initially drawn to the cover, and I can tell you that this cover did not let me down!  Another small, but satisfying feature was the dark red type the book was printed in; it was exactly the color of dried blood and it was just perfect.  Small details like this make me happy.

Book #2, The Girl of Nightmares, comes out August 7th, and I cannot wait!  If it is even a fraction as good as Anna Dressed In Blood, it will be worth the long, long wait!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★+

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book has a bunch of swears, some teen drinking, and rather graphic violence.  No sex.  I'm not all that bothered by swears, so if you are, you probably want to add a couple of years to my recommendation.  That said, I would recommend this book for grades 6 and up (ages 11+).

**Don't forget to enter my 400 Follower Giveaway for your chance to win a SIGNED hardcover copy of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins!  Click HERE to enter!**

1 comment:

  1. This book has been sitting on my stack of TBR books from the library for a while now. I must get to it by the end of the year.


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