Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Anna Dressed in Blood #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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'll just come right out and say that Anna Dressed in Blood was AMAZING!! It's the debut novel of author Kendare Blake and it's the best paranormal young adult I've read since I read Hex Hall earlier this year. Anna Dressed in Blood is fast-paced, action-packed, full of humor, full of heart and has the element of the unexpected.
I love all the characters in this book, even the bad ones. Our hero, Theseus Cassio Lowood (or Cas, as he liked to be called) is our first person narrator. He travels all over the country with his witch mom, "killing" ghost with his athame (a special knife inherited from his father that can slay ghosts). He was very driven and his focus was always on the next job, the next ghost. That is, until Cas and his mother arrived in a small Canadian town where a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood is killing people. He thought it was just going to be another job but it turned out to be anything but. I really enjoyed his voice which to me sounds like an authentic boy voice. I thought the author did a very good job with Cas--having a natural male voice doesn't always happen when written by a female author. The secondary characters were great as well like queen bee Carmel who is not your typical popular girl, Thomas the mind-reading sidekick and, of course, Anna. Learning about her history and how she came to be Anna Dressed in Blood was one of the highlight of the book. The flashback scene of the night she was murdered was insane--I can still see it in my mind as I write this review.
Unlike most paranormal young adult books, the romance was not a main theme in this book. It's subtle for most of the book and I felt the chemistry between the two characters but I kind of wondered if the author was going to take it somewhere. Then, when they finally get together and I read the really sweet scene between them, it just about melted my heart. The plot as a whole had me riveted from page one--it was a roller coaster ride of a read. Just when you thought you have it figured out something else happens and it has everything I love in a good story: great characters, a fantastic plot, plenty of action, mystery, creepy ghosts, magic, friendships and just the right amount of romance. Anna Dressed in Blood is an exceptional read--it will captivate you from page one and won't let you go until the last page. I highly recommend you pick up this book. You won't be disappointed. 5 out of 5 stars