Thursday, 10 January 2013

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Synopsys: 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 (Goodreads).


When a friend recommended this book to me, I was on the fence. The blurb promised an exciting journey to the world of tortured ghosts and fearless ghost killers, but on the other hand I rarely wander off into the world of horror, since I have quite a vivid imagination and the trips to the toilet at night after reading such book would involve me being all wild-eyed and terrified, mistaking my brother for a gruesome creature and stabbing him to death with my tweezers. But I am glad I gave this book a shot.

I must say Kendare Blake has has some seriously dazzling story telling skills. I like the way the reality and supernatural in the book are entangled, it's almost as it is completely normal in our world that some people kill ghosts and others are telepaths or witches. The story has a Supernatural vibe to it, as if Cas is Sam and Dean's long lost younger brother. I kept expecting for Sam and Dean to show up.

The characters in this book are very well developed and engaging. Cas is a very solid protagonist, kickass, down to earth, focused, tough, and so lonely. Even though I usually prefer my narrators to be female I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story from Cas's point of view. His connection with Anna, the ghost, and the bond they developed felt very spooky and gross at first. Then as I got to know Anna I understood her better. Why she is the way she is - a troubled ghost with powers beyond her control. The darkness that surrounds her, and the circumstances of her death. 

The mystery around Anna’s death to me wasn’t difficult to crack. I figured out who killed her the moment the gang cast the spell and Anna's memories came spilling in. Although it was committed for different reasons as I initially thought. It made me quite sad and I felt her pain. The author made a wonderful job of presenting the character of Anna, so the reader can easily relate to Anna and her story. You feel sorry for her and you better understand her actions, she kind of grows on you. 

One question does always appear in my head while reading about people discovering (and coming to terms with) the fact that there are ghosts and/or vampires, werewolves and other unearthly creatures roaming the world. Why does nobody freak out? I mean, really freak out. They all seem to just accept the fact that (in this case) Anna is a ghost and that she really is killing people. They say "If she's real, then we should probably do something. We can't just let her keep on killing people." instead of, I dunno... "Holly cow!! Are you kidding me? This can't be real! There are no ghosts! I know there has to be some reasonable explanation for the things that are happening! Ghosts aren't real!!! Come one, this is just some twisted prank someone is playing on us!" I expected a more tempestuous reaction from them. Hello you guys, you’ve just found out that ghosts are real. And everybody is so calm and composed and planning to stop the ghost from killing more people. This part of the book really bothered me. Am I really the only one that would react to such news with a certain amount of emotions?

Overall, this certainly was an intense read. I loved the concept and the exciting and suspense filled plot, its dark and shocking twists. The characters were intriguing and I'd certainly like to read more about them. What a great premise, and such a brilliant execution! I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, Girl of Nightmares.

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