Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen (August 30, 2011)
Source: My choice; Library
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.I loved everything about this book. Seriously. Everything. The cover is perfect. The title so catchy and well suited to the story. Even the inside of the book is aweworthy. The text isn't black, but a very deep red (blood red, shall we say?).
And that's not even saying anything about the writing itself.
As an aspiring writer, I read agents and editors say they are looking for something different. Something that takes the usual storyline or plot and turns it on its head. Anna Dressed in Blood is the definition of this concept. It's not your typical romance or even your typical ghost story. The plot is so different and unique, I had to keep turning the page to find out what would happen. I couldn't guess.
Then there's the voice. I love stories told in an authentic boy's POV because it's not as common in YA. Kendare Blake does a great job with this. It's snarky, it's strong, and it has what I would consider to be some typical boy thoughts (though, I'm not a boy, so what do I know?). More than that, it's a headspace that I want to share for an entire novel...and more. Although the ending was enough of a conclusion for the story, I really hope Blake continues this story with future books.
If you like strong writing, an original story, and some fantasy/paranormal elements (we are talking about ghosts here), this book is for you. The only hesitation I have in recommending to everyone is that it is a little creepy. Personally, I loved the creepiness, but not everyone likes that. If you're very sensitive to creepiness, you might want to think twice about picking up this book. It contains some creepy content, but I wouldn't consider it gory. Most of the more gruesome things brought up is left up to your imagination to fill in the details.
Ghosts, witches, creepiness, death, and blood...makes for the perfect Halloween read.
Final thoughts: Buy it now!