Jan 7, 2013

Review | Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Genre: Young Adult - Paranormal
Publication: 08.30.2011 by Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Tor Teen - For review
Rating: ★★★★

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.
Thoughts: Anna Dressed in Blood was the book I was most anticipating in 2011. I wanted to read it so badly, I actually requested it. That's kind of a big deal here. Why? Well, it's the only book I have ever requested. Seriously. This book sounded and looked awesome so I wanted it as soon as possible. But of course I didn't get to read it over a year later. Anna was a terrifying fun read that I definitely liked.

The characters: We meet Cas, a ghost killer, like his dad before him. He follows ghosts around different towns so he doesn't have friends and never really connects with anyone. I can totally relate to that, not because I move around a lot with a witch of a mother like he does, but because I tend to keep myself isolated. So I immediately like him. He's nice, yet snarky, good-looking but not annoying and generally nice. He is determined to avenge his father one day and I felt was a great narrating voice.

We then meet Anna (and yes, she is dressed in blood...sometimes) and I liked her too. Sure, she was at times so terrifying I was afraid I might have a hard time sleeping, but she was a great part of the story. Cas is curious about her, partly because she spares his life instead of killing him like she has done so to hundreds others, and also because so little is known about her death...and when we find out it's oh so sad and I hurt for her! Anna doesn't exactly play the role I expected though and this was disappointing because the story takes a new direction I wasn't expecting.

Cas' mom, Tybalt (the ghost sniffing cat,) and a few friends he gains (despite his efforts to keep them away) play vital roles in Cas' hunting and become quite important, without being overwhelming or too annoying, to the story. I enjoyed getting to know each one and particularly enjoyed the relationships that were formed along the way.

The writing: Blake's writing is easy to sink into and I loved her descriptions of the towns and characters. While the story wasn't overall what I expected, she added some elements into the plot, like voodoo and unexpected romance, that were very interesting. Some of Cas' thoughts and  the dialogue was a little too much, and I found myself almost rolling my eyes, but I was able to overlook it. I was surprised with how creepy things were and am looking forward to reading the next one in the series.

The plot: This was probably the part that I liked least...and it's not that I hated it! I totally didn't, but I guess I had different ideas of where the story would actually go. If I hadn't expected the story to be all about Anna and killing her and her being evil, well maybe I wouldn't have been the wee bit disappointed that I was when we find out that there is a bigger, badder thing out there. Obviously Cas has to defeat whatever that is and that's where the story sorta changes and focuses on other things. Not that it's a bad thing, really. The gore and the blood and the unexpected violence makes up for it. It does because it's so awesome.

Oh and then there was the athame? I got a little confused about it's power and all but it was a unique idea that I look forward to learning more of. Just had to throw that out there.

Overall: Okay, so Anna wasn't everything I thought it would be. That's my fault. I think that overall, this is a great book and I recommend to anyone looking for something creepy and unique. This is definitely one of the better books I read this year and look forward to the next installment: Girl of Nightmares. 
This review turned out to be quite long and I think I may have enjoyed Anna more than I claimed to. This review was originally going to be 3½ stars. 


  1. I LOVED Anna Dressed In Blood. It was one of my favorite books that I read last year (I think, not sure if it was 2011). I agree, the plot could have been better. Great review! :)

  2. It's a shame it didn't quite live up to your expectations. I think I'll probably be the same, I've been wanting to read this since it came out and have high expectations thanks to all the rave reviews. But it still seems like a good read, I'll get to it one of these days!

  3. Thanks :D and thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hmm, well it's too bad this one wasn't everything you thought it was going to be. It can be tough when we go into a book having certain expectations. I haven't read this one yet, myself, but I really want to - I think I'll definitely like the spooky tone of the novel, as well as the characters!

  5. I tried to read this one a few months ago and it wasn't for me- the whole theme was a little too creepy for me, which I should have guessed, but I was still surprised by how graphic the writing was. I have the weakness of flicking through the end of a book if I'm vaugely interested in it but don't like it, and the ending was pretty fantastic, though understandably a little confusing. I hope you like the next book even more- great review!

    Romi @ Where the Writer Comes to Write.

  6. You should definitely read it! :) Thanks for stopping by