Initial reaction: “Anna Dressed in Blood” had everything I was looking for in a good YA horror story – it features one of my favorite paranormal beings (ghosts), has an awesome protagonist (Cas), great humor, shocking moments and an intriguing enough story/mystery that kept me reading eagerly through until the end.
I loved every moment of it.
I’ll start my review by saying that I love a good ghost story. Not so much a ghost “love” story per se, but usually those that have an intriguing amount of mystery, suspense and horror, sometimes humor if the cards are right. So when my friends were chirping their excitement over Kendare Blake’s “Anna Dressed in Blood”, a YA horror title that featured all of the above and then some, I knew I had to read it. It’s been a book I’ve looked forward to for a long time.
YA Sync had this as a free audiobook download in July, so it was as good a time as any for me to listen to it. August Ross does a fine job narrating the work, and I felt he captured Cas’s voice very well.
To expound a little on the story, Cas is a ghost hunter – if you call him a “Ghostbuster”, he’s not likely to take that well. 😛 He’s moved many times with his mother, and pursues his work where his father left off. His father was killed by a ghost in a grisly way. Cas pursues his work as “business as usual” – at least when he comes across the strange case of the ghost “Anna, Dressed in Blood”, as discussed in eerie ways around town. He decides to take on the task of killing Anna, but his first encounter with Anna doesn’t go as expected.
The story unfolds as to how Cas discovers more about Anna’s past and grapple with his own motivations and events surrounding his father’s death. In the mix of things, he befriends an unlikely group who helps him in the process, though it doesn’t come without some hard hits and scary/grisly/eerie situations. I loved Blake’s descriptions and balance of elements throughout the work. She crafts an intriguing story that pulls you through Cas’s experiences, while at the same time providing its share of thrills and surprising revelations. Great characterizations, and Cas has a strong voice that gives strength to the narrative throughout. He’s quite intelligent, and there’s a fair balance of bravery and self-awareness in his actions/reactions. Anna is intriguing to follow, starting off eerie, but becoming one that the reader can sympathize with as her story unfolds.
I did not want to put this work down, and as it ended, I’ll admit I still wanted more. I liked the ending and think it provides a good jumping point for the sequel.
Overall, this is definitely a title I would recommend for YA audiences who like a blend of horror, humor, mystery, and/or just a great ghost story that’s unlike many YA titles to date.
Overall score: 4.5/5