Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Series: Anna #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
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.
The plot moves pretty quickly, making Anna Dressed in Blood difficult to put down. Cas is supposed to stop Anna, but she's different and stronger than any ghost he's had to deal with previously. This is a horror book, and Anna is a murderous ghost, so there are a few violent and/or gruesome scenes, but nothing that is overly graphic. Maybe a little bit graphic.
It's set in Canada which is kinda cool and different, though it probably could have been set anywhere and it wouldn't have made a difference. It does mention that Cas used to live in Baton Rouge. (I can't help liking this. We don't get much play in literature here in the BTR.) One of my favorite quotes from the book is about New Orleans. I like it because it feels very true. I think there's a distinct lack of truth about NOLA in books these days (most of it involves swamps, vampires, voodoo and such). And though this one is about ghosts it still feels accurate, like it captures some part of the mood of the city:
"I wouldn't touch New Orleans with a ten-foot pole. The town is haunted as shit, and all the better for it. Nowhere in the world loves its ghosts more than that city."
I really liked Anna Dressed in Blood, and I'll definitely be waiting for the sequel. If you like ghost stories, quiet love stories, or stories that are a little bit scary, you should definitely pick up a copy of this book and read it. It's perfect for some Halloween reading, as well.