Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Series: Anna #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Purchased
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.
Anna Dressed in Blood is an awesomely fun ghost story. Cas is a cynical yet lovable main character. He's something of a loner, on account of his being a ghost hunter who is constantly on the move. He doesn't have time for making many friends, but he's not socially inept. He's confident and has a bit of a swagger about him, but he does his best to keep people at a distance since his presence is always temporary. Anna is simultaneously horrifying and sympathetic. Her story gives her an admirable strength and makes her likable. The secondary characters are likable as well. Thomas is a bit awkward and can sometimes read minds. He's determined to help Cas and exhibits some admirable traits such as loyalty and bravery. Carmel is the resident it girl, but is anything but typical. Rather than being a superficial, snotty, stuck up, pretty, pretty princess, Carmel is not afraid to get her hands dirty. She's kind and brave, and is determined to be helpful.

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.


  1. Yay! I'm glad that you enjoyed this! It's one of my favourite reads of the year, I thought it was absolutely fantastic!

    I also like how it was set in Canada, but then again the best thing about this series is that who knows where Cas will go next!? Next book shall be intriguing either way!

    Great Review

  2. I love the sound of this one! Thanks to your review i think that I have to move this one up the wish list!

  3. I LOVED ANNA! Not many books can truly give me the heebie-jeebies, but damn. I seriously had nightmares for days. It is definitely THE perfect read for Halloween. Another fabulous review, and I'm glad NOLA got a shout-out. :)

    (This is the post I was trying to comment on awhile back when Blogger was being stoopid. I have no idea what I was trying to say then, but I'm sure this is along the same lines. :P)


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