Wow. Just … wow!
This review is going to be slightly different than usual — including a time-line for how my reading progressed because what happens is a testimony to how much I loved this book. As soon as I read a few reviews, I knew I needed to read Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood. Creepy, teen horror with an odd love twist? Yes, please! I read the first half of the book in about a day and a half. Then last night, around midnight when I usually call it a night, I hit the action — and it never stopped! I ran out to the couch so to not disturb a sleeping Jay, but when a specific part about a section of Cas’ house (trying not to reveal spoilers here) came up, I got actual shivers. My radiator made a weird noise and I scurried back to bed like a scared child. I turned my bedside lamp back on and continued. About a half hour later, an exhausted Jay begged me to turn the lights off. So I grabbed my flashlight.
I finished Anna Dressed in Blood around 2:30 am by light of my trusty flashlight (I seriously need a book clip light) and couldn’t wait to wake up and write about it! My adrenaline has not pumped like that in ages!
The novel follows Cas, the son of a once legendary ghost killer who was brutally murdered a few years before. Cas knows his father’s killer was not your typical ghost and plans to avenge him once he feels strong enough to compete with this other-wordly being. When Cas hears Anna’s story, he knows that she will be his final test. Right away, Cas has a feeling — something is different about Anna. She is stronger than most and much more brutal. But why? Cas does not plan on developing feelings for Anna, a girl who lived a tortured life even before her horrendous death. But there is something special about this haunted girl. Even though she may be a brutal killer, she understands herself — and Cas. Just like Cas, Anna is not at all what she seems.
With witty and emotional prose, Blake pulled me into the story from the first page. I have never read a more gruesome teen novel, but everything was written perfectly. Anna’s story will be enough to make you cringe and pull your blankets tighter around your body, but her character will break your heart. Normally, I don’t have overly emotional reactions to teen reads, but Anna made my chest ache. Knowing that the life she lead was not uncommon and that so many suffer just as she did made everything so much more difficult to read.
Blake combined so many things into this book: thrills, emotional moments, witty dialogue and fantastic story-telling. I couldn’t recommend it higher. You must meet Anna. You must read this book.
Oh and PS — the book takes place in Thunder Bay! Yay Ontario!