Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (August 30, 2011)
Source: ARC received for Teen Book Scene Tour
Cover: I think this cover looks middle grade. Not in a bad way but I don't think it looks very young adult, just by the way it's drawn. However, I really like the intrigue of it, seeing the house and Anna. I love that it is black and white with only red accents.
First Sentence: "The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway--no pun intended."
Mini-Review: An addictive debut with a fantastic cast of characters that will have fans of Supernatural clamoring for more.
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.Book Review:
Anna Dressed In Blood is an off-the-wall debut that utuilizes a realistic and likable male voice, one very fascinating job and a toe-curling plot. Cas Lowood is one heck of a lead that you won't mind spending three hundred pages with and Ms. Blake's writing is competent and sure. Anna Dressed In Blood is so creepy it's good!
I loved that this story was written in a male's perspective. Cas reminded me of the best of both Supernatural brothers rolled into one guy that was equal parts serious, humorous and cocky. From the moment he starts his story to his last words, he grows and learns. I loved that in the beginning he was confident but as he spoke, you could see the little boy peeking out, trying to fill his father's shoes. This gave his character a lot of room to grow and grow Cas did. Seeing him learn to lean on other people was surprisingly fulfilling. Even though Cas didn't seem to care that he was solo in the beginning, the author did a great job letting the reader know that something was seriously missing. Just fair warning, Cas is a little rough around the edges with his foul language but he is respectful to his mother and generally cares so for me, that canceled it out. Like I'd mention in other reviews of the same genre, he was a strong enough character to lead the reader through the horror of his surroundings and competent enough that he didn't look dumb running to the noise that go bump in the night. For me, that's essential.
The ghosts that Ms. Blake created were interesting. Hopping from town to town with Cas is like getting to hear the best spooky stories each place has got to offer. And spooky they were! Some of the scenes with Ana had me scooting to the edge of the lamp light so that the shadows were as far away as possible. The way the house was described was incredibly creepy but I liked that at the same time, after a while it felt familiar. Sort of like a metaphor for Anna herself. The author did an awesome job setting up the mystery surrounding Anna and the fact that she didn't kill Cas when we witnessed her rip the others to shreds made riping through the pages a breeze. My only niggle is that I felt like the writing tripped up at times. There were a few places where I had to re-read because something wasn't clear or it just didn't connect to the paragraph before it. It wasn't enough to detract from the mystery of this novel and the incredibly creeptastic story within the pages.
Anna Dressed In Blood will surprise you with its sincerity. I don't want to give away too much but I enjoyed that it switched themes in the second half of the novel and Cas's love interest was just too bittersweet for words. I enjoyed every last word from the guy that for me, embodied both of my favorite brothers on television (Supernatural). A strong debut by an author to look out for, Anna Dressed In Blood is a must read... or else she'll come for you. And you don't want to know what goes on behind Anna's walls unless Cas is there too!