Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna
Volume: 1
Genre: paranormal, horror, romance

Why I Read It: I've been meaning to for a while. It is my first real foray into anything labeled as "horror" in a while.

A Quick Introduction: Cas Lowood kills ghosts. He's moved around since he was little, and, after his father died on a hunt, he took up the mantle, and the ghost-killing knife. He only ever stays in one place long enough to kill whatever's killing people- and there's plenty more where that came from. When one of his network of informants send him a tip about a ghost killing people in Thunder Bay, Ontario, it is with some skepticism that he heads up to check it out. Anna Dressed in Blood is a ghost in the form of a teenage girl in a bloodstained white dress, stained from the wound that sliced her throat open. When Cas arrives, he doesn't expect to find anything, since most ghost stories are just that- stories. But there is something in that house. Something unnaturally strong, even for a ghost, capable of tearing a human in half. Something that, for some mysterious reason, didn't kill Cas when she had the chance.

Review: I enjoyed this one a lot. As I mentioned I haven't really read much in the way of horror, and this seemed like a good place to start. There was one part that I genuinely found creepy (spoiler: the "In your attic eating cats" bit). I enjoyed the amount of action that there was in this one, as well- Cas hunts ghosts, which is inherently rather violent job. These ghosts, depending on their strength are fully capable of killing people and that's where Cas comes in. He hunts down the spirits that are killing people, and, using his ghost-killing athame, sends them "on". Nobody really knows where that is, and the question is raised as to what happens to the ghosts after he ends them, though it isn't answered in the book. He's used to fighting, used to hunting and constantly on the move. He's always on edge, because hunting ghosts keeps you on your toes, and, at the start of the book, views himself as above others his age, because he isn't like them. He's seen more, he's done more, and he has is purpose. Everything else is just excess baggage.

He moves around a lot only staying in one place as long as it takes to kill the ghost haunting it, and never really puts down roots in one place, so there are gaps in his knowledge of people- he's typically quite good at manipulating people to get information, but he doesn't have much experience in actually friendships, so watching him fumble through anything in the way of actual emotional connection was sort of fun. This is the first time he's really had friends, and Thomas and Carmel were good side characters. They both contribute to the story in their own ways, both to the action part of the plot line, and the more character development part, as Cas learns to trust them and they go from people who he can't seem to get rid of to friends who he trusts. I found Cas's relationship with Anna was subtler that a lot of relationships in young adult paranormal fiction (for much of the book, it was less of a driving plot point, if only simply because he doesn't realise why he's so protective of her). Anna herself was interesting as well. She's not your ordinary murderous spirit. For one thing, she's stronger, strong enough to tear a person in half, and fully capable of killing anyone who enters their house, ghost hunter or not. But she doesn't kill Cas, even though he's come to destroy her, because, for some reason, she doesn't have to, and neither of them really know why. And when she's not in her murderous rages, she's a girl trapped in her house with the corpses of all the people that she's killed. She's split into these two halves, the murdering monster, and the lost sixteen year old girl, who can think and reason. And, for the first time, he's found a ghost that he's not sure he should, or even can, kill.

So overall, I enjoyed this one. I think there was less of the "horror" aspect than I was expecting, but there were still some creepy scenes (I redirect you to the cat tail scene, for those who've read the book). I have since read the second in the duology, Girl of Nightmares, and I enjoyed that one as well, though I think I like Anna Dressed In Blood best of the two.

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