July 5th 2012
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...
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.
As soon as I saw the title for this book, I knew that I was going to love it. Seriously, completely love it. And maybe it's because I went into it with that mindset that I thought it was so good. I think that it's more just a combination of that and the books pure awesomeness, though, that actually made me love it so much.
Anna Dressed in Blood is probably the most violent, gory, creepy YA book I've ever read, but I loved every minute of it! I don't know if I've ever told you this, but I love creepy books. Or the few that I've read, anyway. Which is weird because if you put in front of a horror film I'll probably be hiding behind a sofa, hating every minute and then proceed never to sleep again. But horror books are a whole different ball park, and they're something I want to see way more of in YA. Like paranormal, but with the paranormals actually being creepy as, like they should be.
I think that Cas had a lot to do with me loving this book (or I should hope he did, seeing as he's the narrator), and I could really connect with his voice, which was something I wasn't really expecting to happen seeing as he's, y'know, a boy. But that being said, he wasn't aggressively male. He wasn't like some male teenage stereotype, and I think that it was his intense focus on his work as a ghost hunter that makes him very easy to read about regardless of your gender. And I kind of felt bad for him at first too, because he's never really stuck around in a place for long enough to get involved with the living as well of the dead. I loved seeing him actually making friends instead of just using people like he had previously. I also really liked all the stuff with the Athame (even though it ended up causing a teeny bit of trouble), and his connection to it, and I thought that it was really cool that he wasn't some buff, uber-masculine, I-can-kill-stuff-with-my-bare-hands douchebag, and that he could only really do the stuff he did because of the knive. And because he had no fear. I would not last a day at ghost hunting Cas-style.
And Anna! I really, really liked Anna, too. At first, I was a little worried about how their romance was going to play out because when we first meet her she RIPS A MAN IN HALF WITH HER BARE FREAKING HANDS. But as we learned more about her, you start to realise that there's way more to her story than first meets the eye, and by the middle of the book I felt really sorry for her. What happened to her was awful and I can't believe that anyone would do that. By the end of the book, I really, really loved her and respected her for what she did. And I think that for someone who's dead she's an incredibly complex character and I can't wait to read more about her.
I really liked the stuff about magic too, and it kind of reminded me a bit of Buffy magic, because it was all rituals and pentagons and chicken feet and what not. And Thomas and Morfran were brilliant, too. I want a cat called Morfran, now, because it's just such an excellent name (and on the subject of cats, I still hate what happened to the cat in this book. I won't tell you, but if you've read it then you'll know.) The relationship between Thomas and Carmel also made me really, really happy, because I want more nerdy boys to be successful in their romantic pursuits in books! And I also really liked Carmel as a character, too, which surprised me. But she was actually really nice and likeable, so that's all good too.
As I said before, this book is pretty darn creepy and gory. Anna pulled some seriously creepy stuff when her and Cas were first getting acquainted. I often found myself being caught between morbid fascination and all out disgust, and I know that if a film is ever made out of this book then I will not be able to watch it because I appreciate being able to sleep. Also, by the end, when the kind-of-but-not-really sub-plot about Cas's father's murder kicks into action and all that stuff happens, that's pretty damn creepy too. The bad guy in this book is just plain scary, and I loved it, and can we please have more scary book please. Just, I just love them.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a book that I highly recommend, despite the mixed reviews. But I think if you like being creeped out, or you like male perspectives, then you should so pick this book up. It rocks.