Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Summary (from Goodreads):
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. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: 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.

Yet she spares Cas's life.
So far, I feel like I have only picked true gems for my 2014 reading challenge. This was one of those books that got a lot of hype and positive reviews back when it came out a few years ago, and while I purchased the book, I never had the opportunity to read it.
Things that spoke to me right away: there’s a guy main character (!), there’s ghost hunting, there’s an important mom character (who happens to be a witch), there are numerous similarities between this book and the show Supernatural (in the early years), there’s an ultimate revenge mission, there’s a super scary creep factor, and there’s a general lack of sugar-coating.
Cas swears (as most teenagers do, I might add). And I was actually legitimately scared reading this. I don’t think I’ve ever been scared by reading a YA novel. Like I sad, nothing was sugarcoated. Anna was a ghost who split live human bodies down the middle, into two pieces. This is not a book for people who can’t handle their stories with a little blood in them. Also, Anna’s story was very dark and disturbing.
Another thing to love about this book is all of the urban myth references. I loved all the mentions of Bloody Mary and town spooks. I also super loved Cas and his mother. I loved having a YA book where the parent character knows what is going on in their kids’ life. I loved their teamwork. I also loved how considerate Cas was of his mother, again, not something I’m used to seeing.
I do wish some of the side characters had a little more depth to them. The characters I was meant to hate were way to easy to hate. I wished they could have had some kind of redeeming quality to them. I did find his two new besties to be awesome though. And I was so fascinated by Anna.
And just when I thought I got my take on all the supernatural elements of the world, I learn more about voodoo and curses. I loved that the author kept throwing more in. I also loved the idea of a telepathic best friend and a good witch mother. It was interesting getting little clues as the book went on as to what really went down with Cas’ dad.
There are definite comparisons that can be made to multiple supernatural tv shows (besides Supernatural). The protections spells reminded me of Buffy. Some of the powers and curses reminded me of Charmed.  And in a way it felt like a wonderful supernatural tv reunion for me. Add the awesome main characters and all the wonderful things I already listed, and I was highly impressed. I give this a 10/10. And I will definitely have to get my hands on the sequel.

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