Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.
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 actually picked up the sequel to this book first, while I was taking a break at a write in, and wandering around the library. I’ve had Anna Dressed in Blood on my to read list for a while, after being drawn in by the cover. I just hadn’t picked it up. After realizing the book I held in my hands was the sequel, I put a hold in for Anna Dressed in Blood and went on my way. I picked it up from the library yesterday, started reading it yesterday, got about halfway through, went out with a friend and talked about the book to her for a good half hour (mainly about how it was creeping me out), came home at 12:15 am and finished it off.
I loved this book. It was well written, I fell for all of the characters, the relationships were organic and nicely developed. The reason why I didn’t give this was five stars was the pacing. It wasn’t until the last couple of chapters that we find out that Anna isn’t the only major big bad playing in the game, and I would have liked a few more hints, a few more bumps in the night if you will, about the other entity that had found it’s way into Cas’ life. And speaking of the major big bad, while Anna is the titular character and the more influential big bad, I consider the thing that’s hunting Cas to be a little more terrifying–it’s really well done. An interesting take on a voodoo magic/practitioner. I like the tie in to something that happened in Cas’ past and I like the way the first book ended. It’s not so much a cliff-hanger, but a way that’s open to a second book.
Cas is a character that I can support. He’s sarcastic without being a brat, he’s smart but at the same time he still needs the help of the supporting cast who he comes to like and think of as friends. I really liked the slow shift to a somewhat normal life he got a chance to have while at Thunder Bay. Yes, he’s still hunting ghosts, and his life is in danger, but he makes friends–two in particular who really serve to better his character. I’m really looking forward to getting into the second book.
Let’s talk more about YA horror! This is the first book I’ve read in the horror sub-genre. Have you read it? I’ve got a couple other books sitting upstairs, but I’d love some more recommendations!