Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 30th 2011
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.
In waiting so long to read -- and, in turn, review -- Anna Dressed in Blood, I ended up reading a lot of reviews from other people for it first. I tried in the beginning to stay away from spoilery types (and did so for the most part), but I still got a lot of forewarning for different elements of the book that I might have not liked otherwise. People whose opinion I trust varied widely in their opinions of Anna. It was a very odd thing to see. Also, throughout the reviews, three different comparisons (both favorable and unfavorable) kept cropping up: Buffy, Supernatural, and Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Considering the fact that I'm a pretty big fan of all three, I was cautiously intrigued.
Perhaps it was the forewarning, but many of the problems others had with the novel didn't bother me to the same extent. I completely agree that the romance between Cas and Anna is very quick and never feels like a full-bodied experience. I also agree that Cas is a bit of a jerk in the beginning. And, no, I was never particularly scared while reading. However, I was definitely entertained; and think that, in Anna, Blake shows promise of being even more amazing at writing captivating characters in the future.
As for the comparisons? I never really got Buffy beyond the superficial level that Blake introduced herself within the text. There's an entirely different dynamic between the characters. Also, Cas and Buffy have come from very different places and have very different motivations. Supernatural, though, I get. Especially if you've ever seen the episodes with young Dean in high school. Cas is Dean: cocky while thinking he's charismatic, ambivalent about school or friends because he knows he's moving on soon, desperately trying to live up to the spectre of who he thought his father was, it's all in there. However, it doesn't bother me all that much because I like young Dean, and there's very little of him within the show. I think the teenage experience of the boys was an element that was never explored as much as it could have been, so good for Blake in exploring it. As for Hold Me Closer, Necromancer? Well, they both are darkly humorous, have male protagonists, and would appeal in a general way to the same sort of readers. Beyond that, I'm not seeing it.
I guess what surprised me the most about Anna Dressed in Blood was that, even with all the advance warning, I was still surprised by just how funny and smart I found it to be. I really liked this installment, and will definitely read the next.
4 of 5 Stars ~ It was great! I might even re-read it.
Review also appears on Goodreads; I purchased my copy for Nook from Barnes and Noble.