REVIEW: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars, Genre: Horror/Young Adult, Pages: 320, Level: Easy

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.

Anna Dressed in Blood is a 2011 Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year title.

One of NPR’s Top 5 Young Adult Novels of 2011.

Cas’ father was a ghost killer and was killed by a ghost. Now Cas is a ghost killer. He gets a lead about a ghost in Ontario, Anna Dressed in Blood. But Anna is stronger than the others and Cas must find out why before he can kill her.

Anna Dressed in Blood was predictable and not scary. The premise sounded interesting and the execution wasn’t necessarily bad, but it just wasn’t captivating. And for a young adult book, I was surprised at all the cussing. There was even a quote about Cas being a psychologist’s wet dream. That was completely unnecessary. I am sure most young adult books are written by adults, but that usually doesn’t come across in the writing. In this one, I could feel the adult in the writing, struggling to write the way she thought a young adult would speak or think. It was a little distracting.

I do appreciate that Blake didn’t put in a lot of puff to stretch the story out into a trilogy. It’s nice to have a standalone book; they seem to be rare now days. A side effect of that is there are some convenient coincidences. For example, the first night he goes out, the guys take him straight to Anna’s house. Not likely, but it didn’t bother me as much as a whole irrelevant getting accustomed to his new school storyline would have bothered me.

I was surprised to find a rather profound quote in the book: “The things that your eyes see plainly and can’t forget are worse than huddled black figures left to the imagination. Imagination has a poor memory; it slinks away and goes blurry. Eyes remember for much longer.”

I would have liked to give it a higher rating, but it was just okay. Maybe young adults will find Anna Dressed in Blood more engrossing; It certainly did receive great reviews.

Update: There is a sequel titled Girl of Nightmares.

Reviewed by Christina

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