Novel Review: Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood (2011)

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 by

I put off reading Anna Dressed in Blood for at least a year simply because it kept getting advertised as a paranormal romance. Which, it is, but barely. It was constantly popping up on my recommendations (Twilight was a drunken one night stand years ago, Amazon.com, let it go.) and finally I decided to look over the reviews. I’m glad I made that choice because Anna Dressed in Blood is now one of my favorite finds of 2015. 

Author Kendare Blake is a female horror writer who was adopted from South Korea by U.S. parents. She earned her undergraduate degree from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York and received her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Middlesex University in London, England. This woman deserves a fist bump.

“Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.” Cas is a ghost hunter and he is the ghost hunter we all want to be, badass. He hunts down ghosts and uses a magic dagger to send them to wherever ghosts go when they die. This is how Cas Lowood’s life works. He listens out for ghost stories or receives tips from others in the occult world. Cas then moves with his mother and they create a new life for however long it takes to take down the ghost and then they repeat the process. Only this time the ghost he is set to kill, Anna Korlov, is a bit different because she isn’t trapped in a normal ghost mode. She knows she is dead and she isn’t trapped in a repeated sequence. Anna is aware of her surrounds and can speak with Cas. He must learn as much about her as possible and the events surrounding her death in order to figure out what it will take to kill her. This is where the romance starts to fall in.

What I like about Cas Lowood is that though he is a teenager, he is written as a realistic teenager. He is more mature than the average teen, but I would say losing your father to an unknown evil and the constant moving that comes with killing ghosts earns you a few pearls of wisdom. I can also say this about the rest of the characters, especially his Mom who is a witch. She isn’t overdone or out there dancing with green hair, she is as close to a real world Wiccan as you can find in a fictional novel. 

Anna Dressed in Blood is geared towards teens, but there are a few graphic descriptions of gory deaths and as with many horror themed stories involving women: a sexual assault story line. It’s minor and isn’t graphic by any means, but it is there. 

Blake’s telling of different ghosts and their stories and why they are trapped is beautifully told. Cas mentions several times he hasn’t wondered where ghosts go once he kills them, but I am hoping this is foreshadowing future novels. Anna Dressed in Blood is now a book series with a sequel titled Girl of Nightmares. I will eventually read Girl of Nightmares, but I am enjoying the surprise excitement I found in Anna Dressed in Blood. 

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