Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Orchard Books (2011)
Cas Lowood, armed with his late father's athame knife, kills ghosts. In Thunder Bay, Anna, forever 16, drips blood on her white dress from throat slit in 1958, and rips apart anyone who enters her house - except Cas. He makes new friends - high school queen Carmel, jock Will, admiring nerd Thomas and Tom's voodoo grandpa Morfran - to fight this demon.
I remember falling deeply in love with the cover of Anna Dressed in Blood quite a long time ago. And I still love it unconditionally, only now I absolutely love its story too. The girl dressed in a gown made of blood, with her black hair twirling in the wind, standing in front of what it seems to be a haunted house… everything combines perfectly in this picture and since this is, in fact, an undoubtedly beautiful cover, maybe the reason why it took me all this time to get into the story was precisely that—I was scared that the inside wouldn’t match the outside. And it doesn’t—yes, the inside is even more overpowering!
The story of this book is surprisingly good and captivating. I don’t recall reading many novels where the centrepiece, in terms of characters, is a ghost and a ghost hunter, so this turned out to be quite an interesting surprise and approach to the YA genre. And despite being categorized as a horror tale, I don’t necessarily agree with that. Yes, it has a lot of blood and creepy descriptions, with spells and voodoo involved, but the essence of the book is not that scary and the photograph that Kendare Blake takes of it isn’t that overwhelming frightening either—yes, you might feel the occasional need to turn on the lights, and you sure will sense many chills running down your spine… and don’t forget the unconscious necessity you’ll have to look at your cat just to see to what he/she is looking at, but the plot itself is so well created and imagined, the characters are so damn fascinating and the action is non-stop and incredibly mind-blowing that no supernatural happening will be strong and terrifying enough to make you stop reading this book. For sure that Anna Dressed in Blood is a novelty in its genre, and I can’t wait to read more of it in the sequel Girl of Nightmares—that is already waiting its turn.
Uh, I feel like I could say so much more about this book but I’m so terribly nervous of spilling out something that will ruin the surprise of actually reading the story. I think any reader will be astonished by the twisted turn at the end, and will also feel excited with reading the sequel, but the thing that will amaze him/her the most will be Anna. Anna is such an incredible yet believable character and after a while you can’t stop to wonder about her past and feel sort of sympathetic by her condition and her inability to be happy. Yes, she is definitely a scary little ghost dressed in a gown of blood, but there is so much more in her as a fictional character, so much despair, and suffering, and determination, and regret that I’m sure no reader will forget her anytime soon. I know I won’t.