REVIEW Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood
by Kendare Blake
Tor Teen
August 30, 2011
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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.

I didn't really know what to think when all the amazing reviews started to pour in for Anna Dressed in Blood.  It was a ghost story, right?  But...the ghost hunter falls in love with the ghost?  And the ghost has a bad habit of killing people?

I may have been a little skeptical.  But I was willing to give it a shot.

And, boy, am I ever glad I did.

This was a scary, bloody, rather disturbing horror story that begins when Cas decides that the next ghost he's going to "kill" is Anna, Anna Dressed in Blood.  So when he and his mother move to Thunder Bay, he gets close to the popular crowd at his new highschool in hopes that they'll shed some light on the history behind the ghost story.  Unfortunately, he ends up flirting with the wrong girl in order to get his information, and her jealous ex-boyfriend (after leading Cas to Anna's haunted house and informing him of the fact that no one who goes in ever survives) bashes Cas over the back of the head and dumps him inside the house, leaving him for dead.

That's when Cas first sees Anna, and when his world gets turned upside down.

Anna is flippin' terrifying.  And she is very, very dangerous.  So when she doesn't kill Cas, he is left floundering, and starts focusing more on WHY Anna's still there, and why she's so powerful, instead of actually trying to get rid of her.

There's SOOOO much more to this story, but the part that makes it terrifying is the fact that you don't see it coming.  I've spent the last two days trying to figure out how to gush about my absolute fave scene in Anna Dressed in Blood, without spoiling it, and I've come to realize that I just CAN'T.  Here's what you need to know... it's about three-quarters through the book and I was shaking in my seat.  When you read it, YOU WILL KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.  When you've finished, email me and we can discuss further.

This book is definitely topping my list of fave reads for this year, and the fact that there's going to be a sequel is making me so, so happy.

Horror fans, this one's for you!

Happy Reading Everyone!



  1. This YA ghost story is definitely marketed towards the older end of the YA market. It was a bit adult with some gratuitous cursing, and some rather grizzly violence but on the whole had a pretty exciting plot and a terrific central ghost story which the book is titled after. Blake definitely created a great premise. There were plenty of pop-culture references (though surprisingly none to the FOX show Supernatural which was rather surprising considering the similarities)and the 17-year-old ghost hunter male narrator was overall well constructed. Unfortunately, the female author didn't completely sell me on the male perspective, and the central romance fell a bit flat for me (though if you liked the Cristina Ricci version of Casper, maybe the romance would have a greater appeal). The writing too was a bit uneven, with a plethora of passive verbs slowing down the action. The ending is open enough that a sequel just may follow.


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