Thursday 10 October 2013

Book Review - Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Genres: Paranormal, Horror | Young Adult
Release Date: 5th July 2012
Publishers: Orchard Books
No. Pages: 373
Source: Purchased
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
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. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: 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.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

First off, I'd like to congratulate Orchard Books on publishing the UK paperback edition of Anna Dressed in Blood with one of the most gorgeous and breathtaking covers I've seen in, forever. As everyone else is pretty much aware, every other cover in existence has Anna in a white/grey dress with blood across the lower rim, and while I love those covers, I absolutely adore the UK cover, my cover. It's one of those covers that I feel reflects and complements the story so well, capturing the essence of mystery and creepiness, as well as providing readers with a greater sense of the plots scenery and surroundings. If I'm quite frank, I probably would have forever been in love with the physicality of the book, even if I'd hated reading it.

I would however like to bring forth a point that had me to'ing and fro'ing about whether to buy this book in the first place, and that is of the theme; fantasy horror. I am usually pretty pathetic when it comes to anything remotely scary. I refuse to watch any film that has any sort of ghostly spirits, signs of zombies or just any sort of undead being involved. I am essentially, the most anti-Halloween person I know of. I'm that nasty person who doesn't buy sweets for Trick or Treat'ers, so even noticing myself go back to watch the price of this book fluctuate week by week was insanely strange. Yet once I had bought it and owned it, I was still afraid to start reading it, but after a serious talk with myself, I started Anna Dressed in Blood, and I regretted having put it off so long. There was no flapping around with a history or background of the characters, there was no dragging my heels along while I hoped this book improved, it got straight into it from page one and carried on throughout, with no opportunity to put the brakes on, and while I was initially hoping for a little bit of preparation, I found both the pace and style of the plot to be great; so much so, I later found myself wanting more gore, more scare, and much more description of those deaths and hauntings, and I realised I had done a complete 180 degree turn. I found myself wanting to be even more freaked out, that I had to remind myself that a YA book would only go so far. I was taken in completely. I was also amazed at how much Kendare Blake managed to cover and highlight in quite a middle length book. She managed to highlight subjects of child abuse, of our histories prejudice through different nationalities, and also a large array of different and unique beliefs, ranging from witchcraft, to voodoo, to as far as slaying ghosts, and these weren't heavily thrust upon the reader either, which I think helps cater to a large amount of readers, and I loved it.

When it came down to the characters, I was both highly impressed and a little disappointed, and it's conflicting feelings like that make rating and reviewing books so difficult. On one hand, I was blown away by Anna's character. She was like nothing I'd ever read before; her Jekyll and Hyde personality gave her such depth and her tragic past gave her an innocent, almost childlike feature to her, both in appearance and attitude. Her development throughout the story was fantastic and I think out of all the characters featured, I invested the most in her. When it came to Cas however, I fear my high expectations may have hindered how much I liked him. I expected a much more heartless and cold character, a ghost killer who chose his ghosts meticulously, and was driven to riding the world of them, however, while Cas is a great character, a great voice to hear the books perspective from, I just wasn't as impressed with him as I was with Anna. However, his development in creating people to trust and working alongside others did change my mind slightly. In contrast to other people's views, I did actually like the romantic aspect of the story, and didn't find it as difficult or forced as I have in other books, although you do have to have quite an open mind for it to not throw up a few scientific, logical questions.

With all the plot twists within the last 100 pages, the two main characters and the surprisingly enjoyable theme, I don't think I could highlight anymore just how much I loved this book. I regret not having bought and read it sooner, but I shall not be making the same mistake again, as I am most definitely buying Girl of Nightmares in the New Year, and no bank balance, scary theme or undead being is going to stop me.

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