July 14, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake {Review}

Publisher: Tor Teen
Publish Date: August 30, 2011
Source: Library
Cas Lowood has inherited a unique 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 out 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’m feeling kind of wishy-washy about Anna Dressed in Blood. On the one hand, I really loved the story itself with all the little side-stories and ghosties, but on the other, something about it just didn’t quite work for me.

Let’s talk characters first. None of them really jumped out and grabbed me with either a great like or dislike. I liked Anna and Thomas a good bit, but that’s about it. Everyone else just fell kind of flat for me, which is actually okay since I’m more of a story girl.

Now for the writing. Sometimes the pop-culture references just got to be a bit much for me. Especially when I couldn’t understand them. They petered out towards the end, so I appreciated that.
Sometimes I felt like I was thrust into the middle of a conversation where everyone else knew what was going on and I was left in the dark. I really don’t like feeling like I have to play catch-up. I don’t need things spelled out for me, I’m pretty good at putting the pieces together myself, but sometimes it felt like the characters were holding some of the pieces hostage from me.
Also, this could just be because the book I finished before this was over 500 pages, but it felt like it was moving a little too quickly at times.

Now that I’ve got all that out of my system, let’s talk the good stuff.

I really enjoyed the story. It’s very rare that I come across a ghost story in YA that’s actually more than face-value horror (such as R.L. Stine), but Anna Dressed in Blood certainly has more going for it. I mean, we’ve got Cas working through his “I’m a lone ranger” complex; a little relationship building with side characters; a ghost that’s evil, but also maybe not; and scary undefined evil character from Cas’s past. That may sound like a lot, but Blake really makes it all work for the story.
I love that Anna actually has a personality and isn’t just all “Kill everybody!”
The Nusthell: Though the characters weren’t my favorite and the story seemed to move too quickly at times, I really did enjoy it overall. Blake has woven a ghost story that’ll have you shivering under your covers, but unable to put the book down because you simply must find out what happens next. This isn’t some shallow “ghost kills people, good guy kills bad ghosts” story either. There’s a real story with history and emotions that’ll completely draw you in.

Pages: 316
Series: Anna #1
Rating: Hit


  1. I'm sorry that you didn't love this one, Jasmine! I actually really ended up loving this book. =O) I really loved Cas, Anna, and Thomas. They all really grew on me! I am glad that you enjoyed the story itself, though, because I really loved that part! It was SO not your average ghost story.

    Fabulous review, Jasmine!

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  2. I just finished this one this week and felt similarly, but for different reasons. I listened to the audio, and the narrator really killed all of the characters for me. So I ended up liking Anna, and kinda liking Thomas...and that was it. I feel like this one may have been hyped a bit much for me, but I still liked the good points quite a bit, and plan to read the sequel!

  3. I really need to read this one soonish - It sounds good. All your thoughts made me really excited to read as I love that Anna has so much personality!


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