Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Theseus Cassio Lowood (Cas to his friends), 17, has been killing ghosts for ten years. But not just any ghosts; he only hunts down ghosts that harm people. He comes from a long line of ghost-hunting ancestors and inherited the ability when his father was mysteriously killed. He travels to many places with his mother, following tales of ghosts who take out their anger on the living. Cas has never met a ghost he couldn’t handle, until he ends up in Thunder Bay, Ontario and meets Anna.
Anna Dressed in Blood was only 16 when she was brutally murdered in 1958, and has been haunting her house since then, killing anybody who enters. Teenagers dare each other to enter her house, and if they do they are never seen again. Anna is stronger and angrier than any other ghost Cas has ever met, but as he gets to know her and her story, he falls in love with her and becomes determined to help her. Can Cas help Anna stop killing so he doesn’t have to kill her?
If there is one reason to read this book, it is the characters. As the protagonist, on the surface Cas is a tough, matter-of-fact guy who is sarcastic with a little melancholy and torment mixed in. As a ghost hunter with a worried mom, he has to be. But under that tough exterior he is thoughtful and courageous. His concern for his mother and his new friends Thomas and Carmel as they help him decide how to stop Anna become clear through his thoughts and actions.
Anna is a character I found myself rooting for rather than wanting to see her vanquished. Like Cas, she is not a one-dimensional character. She’s not just a ghost who kills; Anna is a soul in agony who doesn’t want to kill, but feels she has no control over it. Reading the way Cas describes her makes her seem like both a terrible and awe-inspiring goddess and a scared and sad young woman at the same time. She’s a force to be reckoned with in all her vicious splendor, but at heart she’s still the girl she was when she was murdered in the 50s.
Cas and Anna aren’t the only reason to read this book, though. The plot is also unique, suspenseful, and unpredictable. I couldn’t guess which direction the book would take. The suspense of not knowing kept me reading. The creep factor is also very prevalent in this book, and it has a large dose of horror with some witchcraft and voodoo thrown in. For those of you who like a little adrenaline rush from a good scare, this is a perfect choice.
Congratulations to Kendare Blake for creating a storyline that is new and refreshing with a title that grabs you from the beginning. Overall I thought this was a spooky, engaging, and surprisingly emotional story.