Sunday, June 17, 2012

30. Anna Dressed In Blood

Book #30: Anna Dressed In Blood
Author: Kendre Blake
Published: August 30, 2011
316 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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.

The story opens perfectly: Cas is right in the middle of a ghost killing. It sets the scene for what's to come - ghosts, horror, and lots of blood. We immediately know what Cas is capable of, so when we find out that he's going to Thunder Bay in search of an intense ghost, we're sure he can do what he came for. He is headstrong and a tad full of himself, yet shies away from actually getting to know people because he knows he won't be staying long. He mostly keeps to himself, ghosts becoming better friends than the living. But something about Thunder Bay is different and it's not just Anna - the ghost he's come to kill.

The characters flew of the pages for me. Cas with his take no prisoners, too good for everyone attitude, and his mother's feel good witchy love. Thomas, his first friend in Thunder Bay, a mindreader who knows just as much about the underworld as Cas does, is geeky and loveable. Carmel, the prom queen, is an unlikely team member, but she's sweet as pie and eventually shows her strength. Lastly, and most importantly, there's Anna. Innocent Anna who was gruesomely murders and now haunts the house she died in, killing all those who step foot over the threshold. That is, everyone but Cas. No one is quite sure of the reason why she spared him, but the friendship and romance that comes later proves there's more to the story than we know.

Anna is the reason why Cas is in Thunder Bay, but she is not the reason he's scared to be there. Twists and turns keep this story going and leave you wanting to keep the lights on at night. Blake captures fear perfectly, describing scenes in the exact right way to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing. Even just with Anna, we see both sides of her so fluently: the devilish side where her hair flies around her like Medusa and her dress drips blood and the innocent young girl, in her prim white dress and hope in her eyes.

I love a good ghost story, and she delivered. It did take me quite awhile to finish it, as I could only read a little bit at a time, not sure why, but it didn't quite capture me enough to want to read it all in one sitting like good books do. The romance between Cas and Anna is truly believable, since Cas relates better with ghosts than humans. Their story is heart breaking and brutal, just like her death. I can't wait to read about more of Cas' adventures in the books to follow.

“She's my purpose and we're going to save each other. We're going to save everyone. And then I'm going to convince her that she's supposed to stay here. With me.” 

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