In YA Paranormal

Anna dressed in bloodANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

Author: Kendare Blake
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Paranormal
Format: Hard copy (paperback)
Publisher: Orchard (Hachette)
Release Date: 5th July 2012
Recommended Reading: 16 + (Book cover advises; not for younger readers)


THE GIST: Fans of Young Adult will empathise with my desire to continually seek ‘that’ next book which brings something edgier, different or dare I say, cooler? Anna Dressed in Blood delivers an exciting and refreshing departure into the now popular paranormal genre. This book excels with a great plot, exciting male protagonist and all the tension, romance (but don’t roll your eyes, it is the well-executed kind) and depth you would hope from a book aimed at older readers of this genre. That, and there are some seriously cool fright scenes.

SYNOPSISCas 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. (Amazon)

THE LOWDOWN: I was both excited and concerned about starting this book. The synopsis sang to me from the shelf; I love paranormal, I love ghost stories and I love a bit of old school horror – but, surely a book couldn’t fulfill my expectations for this combination? This one did.

The first thing that struck me was the male lead, Cas. The books I read all seem to have female lead characters, so it was exciting for me to read one from the male perspective. The second was that he was a ghost hunter; as a Supernatural fan (the TV show) I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to his situation – the family ‘hunting’ business and the need to follow in his father’s footsteps, set the bar high for Cas. He had to be that good. He was (praise indeed).

For Cas, reality was following around the kinds of urban legends kids tell at sleepovers. Armed with a special knife he inherited from his father, Cas and his mother move to wherever the job takes them. He takes on a host of other-worldly enemies and seemingly, he wins. His success rate has brought him confidence and he has obliterated more than a few paranormal foes when he aims for the Holy Grail; Anna Dressed in Blood. Anna’s reputation for being particularly ‘resistant’ to interference from the human world makes her all the more alluring. He is intoxicated with the chance to be the victor.

Anna is a murderous ghost who has managed to (quite brutally) kill everyone to ever enter her home. That is until Cas steps in. Not to say that she welcomes his visit with open arms, but it soon becomes clear to Cas there is more to her story and he becomes entirely fixated on his spectral nemesis, which makes doing his job all the more challenging. Even after he sees the full extent of her terrifying powers, Cas cannot bring himself to send her away. There is just something about her and therein lies the story!

Cas is kind of tortured, without coming off as predictable and I found myself drawn to him and his unusual skill-set. Cool and original, he is one of my favourite YA guys.

Cas and Anna are strong characters, both of whom have exceptionally well-crafted back story which feeds directly into a plot YA fans will devour. Death, love, ghosts, rituals, witchcraft and mystery, what is not to like?

I am eagerly awaiting the follow up – Girl of Nightmares, to find out what comes next for these two and will forever (however virtually) be first in line to grab anything else by Kendare Blake.

Amy Keen
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