Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Tor Teen, 2011
I'm not usually one for horror books and ghost stories, but I can't say the same for the teens that frequent my library. They can't seem to get enough of them, and for the better part of a year, I've been able to scrape by based on the book jackets and blurbs I've read when helping them make book selections. But when this book finally made its way to our collection, I decided to give ghosts another try and was not disappointed.
Kendare Blake paints a dark, twisted picture in her novel Anna Dressed in Blood. Readers step inside the mind of 17 year old Cas Lowood - he hunts ghosts, just as his father before him did (until Mr. Lowood was murdered by a ghost). His jobs have taken him across America and now he's made his way to Thunder Bay, Ontario to kill off the evil Anna Dressed in Blood, the ghost of a 16 year old girl who was brutally murdered and has made a habit of killing anyone who enters the house she haunts. Everyone, that is, except Cas.
Overall, this story did a lot of things that I didn't expect it could do, and I really liked that. There's much more to Anna and Cas's situations than is originally let on, and I'm glad that this horror story really made me think about those predicaments and choices. This was a book I was not able to read quickly. Blake forces readers to slow down, take their time, and tread cautiously into this world of trying to kill the dead. She is descriptive and her choices seem to be meticulous. I liked that Cas was insulted by comparisons people made of him to Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Cas doesn't even try for a normal life because he knows it's not an option. It's what makes the minute pauses that resemble a normal existence so powerful to me as a reader. Cas is methodical, dancing on the line between caution when it's necessary and wanting to throw caution to the wind and destroy these things that cost his father his life.
I really enjoyed the secondary characters of the story, but I wish they would have been just a bit more fleshed out (however, the sequel Girl of Nightmares is due out later this year, so maybe readers will get more information then). I'm willing to concede to the idea that Cas doesn't say much about other people because he purposely tries to distance himself from them (he doesn't want anyone else to get hurt), but I hope to see a bit more dimension with them in the next installment.
Overall, I'm glad to have given this book a try and I'll absolutely be recommending to patrons who are looking for a story that will make their stomach churn. And while I'm still not really one for scary stories, you can bet Girl of Nightmares will be on my to-read list anyway.
Comments welcome and as always, happy reading.
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