Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)- Kendare Blake
“I’m not a superhero,” I say. It’s an awful tag. It’s egotistical, and it doesn’t fit. I don’t parade around in spandex. I don’t do what I do and receive accolades and keys to cities. I work in the dark, killing what should have stayed dead. If people knew what I was up to, they’d probably try to stop me. The idiots would take Casper’s side, and then I’d have to kill Casper and them after Casper bit their throats out. I’m no superhero. If anything I’m Rorschach from Watchmen. I’m Grendel. I’m the survivor in Silent Hill.
I’m not afraid of the dark; I’ve always slept like a rock, and I’ve been in more than my share of dim and dangerous places. I’ve seen most of what there is to be afraid of in this world, and to tell you the truth, the worst of them are the ones that make you afraid in the light. The things that your eyes see plainly and can’t forget are worse than huddled black figures left to the imagination. Imagination has a poor memory; it slinks away and goes blurry. Eyes remember for much longer.
I adore ghost stories. I’m the girl who is genuinely thrilled to curl up on the average Saturday and watch reruns of Paranormal Witness, Ghost Hunters International, Supernaturaland/or American Horror Story. I love horror films and even know a few ghost hunters myself. So when I stumbled upon the creepy black and white cover for Anna Dressed in Blood that seemed to be oozing blood from the pops of color on the cover to the rusty red print of the text itself, I was more excited than I’ve been in a long time. While YA is chuck full of supernatural beings there’s a serious shortage in the ghosts/poltergeists department. So if you’ve been searching for something a little different and very scary look no further and check this out.
Cas Lowood is not your average teenage boy. While some guys focus their efforts on getting the hottest girl in school to go out with them or making the football team, Cas never stays in one place for too long because he can’t afford to become attached to anything and especially not anyone. Cas is a ghost hunter spurred into action not only by his blood but by an all consuming hungering for vengeance. Cas’ father was a legendary ghost hunter who lost the battle to a cannibalistic entity of unimaginable power. Since he found out his father was gnawed on, he researched and made it his mission to hunt down the creature that robbed him of his father much too young. When Cas gets a letter in the mail written in human blood informing him about a volatile spirit named Anna who slaughters everyone who enters her old Victorian house, he knows without a doubt that this threat is real and just the sort of warm up he needs to move on to the creature that killed his father. Cas and his mother pack up and head to Canada with their cat and his mother’s portable magic supply. Cas’ mother is a white witch who has a steady business of infused candles and homeopathy. Cas immerses himself into the local high school eager for tales of mysterious hauntings. Late one night at a drunken high school party, after cozying up to Carmel, the most popular girl in school, a group of jocks who pretend to be friendly hit him over the head with a board and drag him into Anna’s house. His head bleeding profusely, he is startled by dripping, he lifts his head and faces Anna, her white gown soaked through with blood, steadily dripping across the floor. The girl before him is something of nightmares, black veins twisting up her body, black eyes locked with his. For some reason Anna spares him and moves on to the jock that knocked him unconscious, reaching into his body and tearing him to pieces. Cas knows he must destroy Anna but something about her makes him hesitate. With his unlikely band of friends, the prom queen(Caramel), the goth(Thomas), and a black witch (Thomas’grandfather), Cas struggles through his conflicted feelings about Anna, and faces a danger unlike any he’s encountered before.
- The author very obviously did her research on the magical and medicinal purposes of herbs and the purification rituals of Wiccan culture as well as voodoo practitioners. This was fascinating and I found myself researching their uses for fun.
- Often in YA recently, the popular crowd is depicted as a group of evil bullies who enjoy tormenting those who are different. The protagonist is usually the outsider, a unique somewhat insecure person who has a hard time fitting in. Carmel is a leggy, tan bombshell of a blonde who is also the most popular girl in school. It is so refreshing to see the it girl as a genuine sweetheart who is nice to everyone.
- Cas is a wonderful mixture of Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural. He’s sexy, witty, exudes confidence, but is also unsure when it comes to matters of the heart.
- Anna’s story is a tragic bloody mess of loss and longing that will win your heart a thousand times over.
- Several sections felt convoluted. Especially during the action scenes, there were so many things thrown in at once that it was a bit of a confusing mess.
- Some of the humor fell flat and was a little awkward.
- Near the end of the book, some of the voodoo elements could have been explained more in depth. The black cross wasn’t clarified in regards to its purpose and the voodoo practitioner that wasn’t really voodoo because they take energy into themselves rather than create it…this section was a bunch of names without any real explanation into what exactly they are and how much they differ from regular voodoo. It was stuffed into two or three small paragraphs.
- The gore wasn’t as descriptive as it could have been. I would have liked more detail. Just a teeny bit more of this would have made the story a lot more terrifying. The lack of detail detracted from the sheer magnitude of the horror, it was as if it was glanced over but not brought into focus.
- If you liked any of the following, you’d enjoy this: