Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: August 30th 2011
Pages: 373 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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.

Call me a wuss, but I am so easily spooked by ghost stories, it's borderline hilarious. Sit me in front of Paranormal Activity, and I'm literally glued behind a fort of cushions. So when I saw that Anna Dressed in Blood was given so many five-star ratings, I braced myself to be scared sheepless (you know what I mean, but PG kids, PG) - but I wasn't! And what's more, I actually enjoyed it. Best. Ghost story. Ever.

I honestly don't know where to begin. I don't really know what I was expecting from the novel, but it certainly wasn't what I got. I guess I thought it would be very gruesome and gory, stuff that would keep me awake at night and on the edge of my seat. It kept me on the edge of my seat, alright, and it had plenty gory scenes (which I did not appreciate whilst eating my dinner, thank you, Blake) but it wasn't terrifying. Scary, but nothing that got my heart pounding - which I actually preferred; I like my sleep.

I adored the characters! For the first time in a while, I actually felt like I knew the main character of Cas fully - I knew his background, his thoughts and feeling, his situation - I even had an image of what he looked like in my head, although I don't think it was what Blake intended. It was also a bit surprising that he was the main protagonist - I was expecting it to be Anna, but nope. On that note, I also loved Anna - I think it's impossible to read this book without loving her at the end. Sometimes I found myself staring at the cover - Blake described her so vividly, I just wanted her to turn around so I could look at her and see for myself. But unfortunately, this isn't Hogwarts and pictures don't move - sigh!

It was very easy to imagine the houses and the school; Blake wrote with such ease that it wasn't difficult to slip in and out of the story - though on the more exciting parts, it was like the cover was glued to my fingers! Some plot twists I did see coming, and certain things made them obvious - but for the most part, I was oblivious, and I found myself surprised on more than one occasion. It is truly one of the best ghost stories I have ever read and - gasp! - I actually want to read the next installment!

I think that no matter what genres you most commonly like - whether that be dystopian, contemporary, romance, whatever - you've got to try out this read. I think it appeals to a variety of different people, and I don't think you know whether you will like it or not until you read it for yourself. Anna Dressed in Blood took me through a rollercoaster of different emotions - love, hate, fear, suspense, heartbreak - you name it, I most likely felt it! This is definitely a must-read, folks!
Rating: 4/5

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