I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, so I recently read a book entitled “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake, which was quite different from the ghost stories you typically read.
Our hero is Cas Lowood, a loner teenager who kills ghosts with his deadly ghost-hunting knife. Cas doesn’t kill all ghosts he comes across — only those ghosts who harm people. We learn that he inherited his profession and the knife from his father who was killed under mysterious circumstances by an especially nasty ghost. Cas works on building up his ghost-hunting skills, and once they’re good enough, he plans on avenging his father’s death by destroying the ghost that murdered him.
Since his father’s murder, Cas and his mother, who is a white witch, travel the country following rumors of murderous ghosts. Cas makes a point of never making friends or connections because he knows he never stays long in one place; there’s always a new ghost to hunt in a new city.
Following a local legend about an especially vicious ghost named Anna, Cas and his mom end up in Thunder Bay. Anna was brutally murdered in 1958, and since then, numerous disappearances have been blamed on her. But Anna is not like any ghost that Cas has ever encountered before. She is extremely powerful, tormented and full of rage — and she wears the same dress she did the day she was murdered: stained red with blood (hence the book’s title).
Anna also kills anyone who dares to enter her old Victorian homestead by tearing them apart, so the story was rather frightening and bloody at times. Anna was definitely one scary girl! She is also the most fearsome ghost Cass has ever encountered. But…all is not as it seems with Anna.
The story is told from Cas’s point of view, and I loved his character. He was cocky (perhaps a tad arrogant), self-assured and brave but had a sensitive side as well and turns out to be quite a likable character. The author did an excellent job of portraying what it is that makes our young protagonist tick. His deadpan humor really added a nice touch to this character. I loved how his character evolved from a closed-off loner to a more open, caring person with actual friends.
Equally impressive were the vivid secondary characters Thomas (a mind-reading nerd), Caramel (a high school Queen Bee), his mother (a lovable kitchen-witch) and of course our ghost, tortured Anna, who is at first ultimately terrifying but there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.
All in all, the characters were complex, well-developed and humorous, and each had an important role to play in the book. By the end of the story, you had a feeling as though you knew each of them well.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a suspenseful, well-told compelling tale with an unexpected twist at the end. The action was fast-paced and exciting, and the numerous twists and turns definitely keep the reader guessing. The ending and the plot were not predictable (at least I didn’t think so) and were refreshingly original. While it’s certainly a horror story filled with action, gore and mystery, it’s also a story of redemption with a touch of romance.
This is a story that pulls you right in and keeps you interested until the very end — or at least it did for me. I really loved this story and all of the characters. I usually have a niggle or two with most books I read but there were none for me in this book. It was amazing.
I was also happy to learn that there’s a sequel entitled “The Girl of Nightmares” which I’ll definitely be reading (note: there was no cliffhanger at the end of Anna Dressed in Blood – the storyline was completely resolved at the end). I am so happy I discovered this author and will happily read her other books. Recommended!
You can check out Anna Dressed in Blood HERE