I admit it: I picked this book up based on the intriguing title and the stunning cover. Both suit the book perfectly: my expectations were fulfilled in a most satisfying way.
Our hero is teenage Cas. He is a ghost hunter, just like his father before him. He and his mother move around a lot, as Cas tracks down ghosts and dispatches them with his father's athame, a dagger with mysterious powers. Things have been fairly cut and dry for him up to this point: stay detached, hunt down ghosts, kill them, move on.
Then he hears about a ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood, and they move to Canada. There Cas finds himself facing a ghost unlike any he's ever known, and this time, he is going to need backup. He's held himself apart for so long that it is a strange sensation to find that he actually has acquired some friends willing to stand up with him, but even with their help, the situation quickly spins out of his control...
This is the perfect Halloween read, with atmospheric creepiness galore, along with an action-packed plot with twists and turns, sympathetic characters, a touch of romance, and even a little humor. My eighth grader picked it up this week and has had her nose in it ever since, barely able to put it down to do her homework or join us at the dinner table. I like that in a book! The novel stands well on its own and ends with a fairly satisfying conclusion, but there is, of course, a sequel. I found Cas to have his faults, but he is a charming and tough protagonist - and Anna? I won't say a word - you'll have to find out for yourself! So I'm definitely on board to see what happens next. This may be a little gory for sensitive readers, but for those looking for a story to get under their skin, particularly for Halloween, this one will fit the bill.
Books in the Anna series:
1. Anna Dressed in Blood
2. Girl of Nightmares
Anna Dressed in Blood (#1 in the Anna series) by Kendare Blake (Tor Teen, 2011)
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Anna Reads: "Horror is really not my thing — in books or in movies — but this was a pretty solid read."
Beyond Books: "Anna Dressed in Blood is a thriller-mystery with relationships, friendships, some wit and a lot of atmosphere. It's one of the better books I've read this year."
Book Twirps: "Anna Dressed in Blood is a great mix of horror, comedy, action and romance. Kendare Blake doesn’t waste any time, or words, in this novel. Each scene has a purpose and drives the novel forward at a satisfying pace."