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Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake ~5/5 Cupcakes~

TITLE: Anna Dressed in Blood
SERIES: Anna #1
AUTHOR: Kendare Blake
PUB. DATE: August 30, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover, 316 pgs
SOURCE: gift from baby sis
Anna Dressed in Blood
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
*the Romance section of the review is a bit spoilery*

THREE WORDS: Chilling. Spellbinding. Beautiful.

MY “I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK” REACTION: *turns all the lights on, checks under the bed, and dives under covers* Now that was creeptastic!

MY REVIEW: So, I did a not so smart thing. I started reading Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood at night…in the dark…when things get creepy. This book is so bloody great (I had to get that pun outta my system) that I couldn’t put it down, which resulted in me reading it in the dark, wee hours of the morning, constantly jumping every time my usually quiet house made a noise. Basically, reading this book was an awesome experience!

Cas is anything but your average 17 year old guy. He moves around a lot, he doesn’t revel in the attention of pretty girls, oh, and he kills ghosts. Like his father before him and his father and his father.  With his witchy mom and irritable cat Tybalt, Cas relocates to Thunder Bay, Ontario in search of local famous ghost- Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood. In Thunder Bay, Cas finds three things he’s never encountered before- a ghost he can’t (or won’t) kill, actual friends, and a reason to stick around. Along with his new friends, Cas must uncover the mystery surrounding Anna’s brutal death, deal with his unexpected feeling for this intriguing ghost, and go up against a deadly foe he’s unprepared for.

I’m a HUGE fan of the supernatural/paranormal genre, and with this book, Blake has done this genre right! There is so much to love about this book! It is dark and twisted in the most delicious way, with a captivating story and compelling characters. Blake’s writing is sharp, confident, and she weaves a spellbinding tale.

Anna Dressed in Blood flows effortlessly, is masterfully executed, and grips you tight from beginning to well beyond the end. Blake has really created something that is excitingly original and refreshing. It has all the gore and violence of a horror and all the mystery and intrigue of a thriller. It’s hip and modern, yet has the feel of a lovely, but dark Gothic classic. This isn’t your average or clich├ęd ghost story; it’s scary in its subtlety, surprisingly touching, and stunningly romantic.

I loved how unafraid Blake is to simply Go There in this book. Nothing is held back- not the gore, the language, the violence, the emotion- and the result is a gorgeous, realistic, vivid story that is haunting, merciless, and impossible to forget. This is also a very layered book. There are smaller, yet significant, stories found within the main story, but the book as a whole is never overwhelming or simply Too Much. I, for one, appreciated the complexity and sense of development that this multi faceted element created. I was pleasantly surprised at how much emotion and heart is in this book. Underneath all the supernatural and paranormal aspects, lies a lot of character driven emotion. This book isn’t just about death or killing ghosts, it’s also about moving on, living, friendship, family, and love.

Both Cas and Anna’s separate and intertwining stories took my breath away. I loved the storyline and the way the overall story unfolds. Blake throws in a few gasp-worthy twists and shockers that had me “OMGing” and “Oh, no she didn’t? Oh, yes she did!”. There’s a wonderfully evil baddie and an awesome confrontation with him. The ending is explosive and brutal, yet hopeful and it definitely left me open mouthed and wanting more.

I have to mention two personal things that I love about this book. First, the gorgeous cover! This is a cover that will have people picking it up off shelves and buying it without even having any clue what it’s about. It says so much about the story and fits the book so well! Second, I love how much this book reminds me of the tv show Supernatural! Ghost hunting, Wendigo’s, the name Cas?! *squee* My fellow Supernatural fans will know what I mean : )

Blake has created incredibly compelling, engaging, and well developed characters. Characters that I really liked as individuals, but loved as a dynamic, interactive group.

Cas has all the charms of a confident guy who knows what he wants and knows what he’s doing. Yet, underneath all that bravado, is a lonely 17 year old boy who misses his dad, feels the need to prove his abilities, and who constantly doubts himself. He’s smart, yet reckless; tough, yet soft; distant, yet yearning for a connection. I love the complexities of his character, but appreciate his relatability.

Anna is unlike any character I’ve ever come across! She is light and dark, strong and tender, feared and fearful. I was completely fascinated with and terrified of this lovely ghost girl. She could make me laugh with a witty remark, break my heart with her honesty, and with just a single described look I found myself coming undone by her right along side Cas.

Cas’ new friends, Thomas and Carmel, add a nice sense of realism and normalcy to the story. It’s hard to resist Thomas’ awkward charm. I was surprised by how much I ended up really liking the beautiful, popular Carmel. She turned out to be such a cool girl.

From the very first scene between Cas and Anna, a fiery, intense spark exist between them. Even when they are quite literally at each other’s throats, you can feel the chemistry and longing within them. This is a complicated and twisted romance, which of course makes it completely captivating. But as dark as this romance is, there’s also something incredibly pure and sweet about it.

Thomas’ crush on Carmel and her slow, realization of him, adds a bit of fun and cuteness to the romantic aspects of this book.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Kendare Blake has Wowed and Wooed me with Anna Dressed in Blood. This is a book that will captivate and thrill you, leave you feeling gutted, and have you saying Thank You for the beautiful ache. This book is a MUST read and I absolutely LOVE it!


You can learn more about and connect with Kendare Blake here:
You can purchase this book here:


LisaILJ said...

What an awesomely thorough review. I have wanted to read it before reading this, if only because of how well it has been received, but now I want to start reading it right this second.

Bookluvr Mindy said...

I've seen this one around quite a bit lately! Sounds good...and 5 cupcakes? It must have been! A creepy book with likable characters and romance! How can you get any better than that!

Nice review!

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking said...

LisaILJ- Thank you so much! It really is a MUST read!

Mindy- Thank you! It's probably one of the best creepy books I've ever read.

Kelli said...

Great review! After reading this, I only want to win a copy even more so I can get started on it! :)

Unknown said...

I loved this one! A great paranormal read. I agree that is was creepy. I loved the unique romance between Cas and Anna. First she almost kills him and then she likes him. She was also funny to me. She scared me to death and then when the curse was lifted she was just a normal girl riding along in the car. It kind of cracked me up. I'm very excited for the sequel.

Avon Bernabe said...

I've been hearing good things about this book and I would love to read this!

Kelly said...

I was chuckling from your humor when the review started. Then I read the review which sounds intriguing, but when I got to your thoughts on Cas it made me sad. When I think someone is the underdog, I automatically root for them!! I enjoyed the review and can't wait to read it!

Sarahbotbonkers said...

I love your review! Anna Dressed in Blood is really something I would read but I'm so easily spooked I doubt I could finish it. :D

Aaa said...

Nice review ! I have always wanted to read this book but I am afraid that it would be too spooky for me to handle :( But I think I will still go for it as I don't want to miss a great book with 5/5 rating! :)

primrose said...

I don't usually read horror books but Anna was awesome. And I really love your review.

Holly said...

I'm listening to this one right now and really enjoy it. I agree anyone who loves the show Supernatural, will love this one!

Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

I have this as an audiobook and I can't wait to get to it. I'm so glad to see other people enjoying it so much, it definitely makes me want to get to it a lot sooner.
Great review.

jaimecr76 said...

Loved this book, reading the follow up now!