Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Anna Dressed in Blood
by Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Published by Tor
on August 30th, 2011
Genres: Horror, YA
Pages: 320


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.

I truly and honestly do not have a vocabulary large enough to tell you how unbelievably amazing, gripping, detailed and entertaining Anna Dressed in Blood was. To be honest I sort of want to fill this review with a bunch of crazy “Oh my gosh!” gifs and keep repeating the word awesome. It was just that good, amazing, fantastic!

The story starts off with Cass (my new book love!) driving around in a borrowed car and a ghost in the passenger seat. A ghost who doesn’t know he’s dead. A ghost who is going to try and kill Cass in about one minute. I’m not sure how I expected this particular ghost story to start but I sure as hell was not prepared for Cass going all “ghost hunter” on this very dead hitchhiker within the first 12 pages! In fact I was a little afraid of the book for starting off with so much action, because I was convinced that from here it could only stall in the action department.

But sweet goodness gracious, in the name of all that is delicious it never slowed down!

You see Cass and his mother go from place to place hunting and “killing” ghost. It’s what Cass’s father did before he was viciously killed by a ghost and something Cass will never stop doing. And the next stop on their ghost hunting adventure is Thunder Bay Canada, where Anna Dressed in Blood is. Oh I just get goose bumps thinking about Anna! I LOVES HER! But the thing is Anna isn’t your run of the mill ghost for Cass. She’s stronger, smarter, and tougher than any ghost he has ever run into and against all odds Cass actually starts to befriend her! The same ghost who ripped a boy IN HALF right in front of Cass! Who kills anyone who dares to step into her house!

And you know what that’s just the first in many plot surprises.

I think that’s what I liked most about Anna Dressed in Blood. The plot was never your run of the mill “ghost story” or YA novel. Everything about it was fresh and different and just surprised the hell out of me! In a “typical” YA book Cass would have went after Anna all alone to “protect the people he loves”. In a typical YA book Carmel (another amazing character) would have run screaming with her pom-poms over her heads. In a “typical YA book Thomas (our dorky, but lovable, witch) would have died the moment he tried to be “brave”. But you know what?


This is Anna Dressed in Blood and it has set a bar so high into the clouds for ghost stories that I truly am afraid to read any other “ghost” story out there. Not because I’m afraid they’ll kick Anna’s ass but because I know they will butcher the true potential of ghost stories.

Anna Dressed in Blood was everything a real ghost story should be! It scared me (seriously), it had gore, the characters were strong and smart and so damn tangible! Originally I wasn’t too happy about Carmel, Thomas, and Will joining Cass because I thought some stupid love triangle would start, or the story would shift focus to Cass making friends for the first time. But there was really no need for me to be concerned because unlike other stories I’ve read the addition of supporting characters only built the story up. Without Carmel and Thomas this would have become a solid 4 star book instead of the 6 stars I feel it truly deserves. And yes I know my rating only goes up to awesomesause/5 stars, but this book surpasses that by so much! And for me not to note it somewhere in this review would be like lying in my opinion.

I can’t say anything else about this book to convince you to go grab a copy immediately but let me give you a taste of the kind of person Cass is. The kind of hero I hope to see more often:

“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 to 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.

-Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake page 22.


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10 thoughts on “Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake”

  1. I’ve had this book on my to-read list for EVER, but just haven’t gotten around to it… I think I’m gonna have to fix that soon. Cass sounds like an amazing protagonist, and I was SUPER glad to read that the supporting characters work to build the story up. I hate it when the minor characters just end up feeling like unnecessary extras. Great review!! 🙂
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  2. I usually don’t read horror because I’m such a coward, but my cousin begged me to read this because she loved it so much. I gave in, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It gave me a good scare, especially since I read most of it at night, but I really loved the story and the characters, most of all Cas and his sarcasm. At first I didn’t like Carmel, either, and I thought Thomas was kind of annoying, but they both grew on me, and by the end, I couldn’t picture the novel without them.
    Lee @ Rally the Readers recently posted…Center Stage May 2013 Character SpotlightMy Profile

  3. Those were my exact thoughts! In the beginning I was so aggravated the Carmel and Thomas joined but by the end I loved them so much! Thanks for dropping by!

  4. I agree!! I love Cass as well, he’s soo…I dunno. This one actually had me a bit jumpy and I couldn’t listen to it at night because my brain is tad overacting in the imagination department. Plus we have a squirrel in the attic (who is soon to be evicted) that had me panicking until I realized what it was. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much and I can’t wait to read the second book.
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