Saturday, 11 January 2014

Review || Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake ★★★☆☆
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.

This book was a lot of fun. A lot of gruesome fun. The graphic descriptions in this book were a lot more than what I was expecting. I've generally got a relatively high tolerance for stuff like that in books, but there was something about the casual descriptions of dismemberment that were sort of shocking.

That said, don't let that put you off of this book. It's not all blood and guts. It's also got that really great creepy factor. I had to intentionally not read this right before bed, lest the shadows on my walls kept me up all night.

The mythos here was also neat. I like the rules and explanations of how ghosts worked. I enjoyed all the other paranormal bits that were included as well, like witches and telepaths. That last one surprised me, but it was a pleasant one. (I'm a sucker for telepaths, to be honest.) Cas was a likeable narrator and it was easy to understand his motives. His supporting cast was interesting and varied and I found that I enjoyed Thomas and Carmel (and of course, Anna) a lot.

My only criticism is the last... I don't know, 50-60 pages or so? I remember closing in on the end and thinking, "How on earth are we going to wrap all this up in so few pages?" The answer was... somewhat. The lose ends get tied up a bit hastily for my liking, especially when the major twist/antagonist was only really introduced a handful of chapters previous. The big climatic showdown felt rushed and wasn't as satisfying as I thought it could've been. Now, I know there's a second book. I'm willing to bet a lot of these problems will be addressed in that book. It's still a little disappointing, though.

Still, I gave this book four stars because all in all it was a fun and fast read. Certainly enjoyable, if occasionally gruesome. But it never really blew my mind or messed with my expectations. I think the big reveal towards the end might've, if it had been handled differently. I'm definitely going to be reading Girl of Nightmares, though.

If you're a fan of the paranormal with a dash of horror, this will be right up your alley. And if you've read this, what did you think? Let me know!