You know that old saying “Never judge a book by it’s cover?” Well…I suck at that. A few months ago (and by few I mean about 6) I got my Tor catalog in the mail. Like always (after I stopped jumping up and down and acting like a complete idiot) I saw a few things that peaked my interest. Then (cue dramatic elevator music) I saw “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake. To say it was love at first sight sounds a tad ridiculous, I know, but there is no denying that I was head-over-heals-googly-eyed-should-be-in-a-padded-room in cover love with this book. Now, that being said…I was frightened of actually reading it. Why? Because here I was, (basically drooling over some chick with wicked cool “floaty” hair,) knowing that there was no way in hell this book was going to live up to the hype I built in my own head. To say “crash and burn” would be nice compared to the pictures I had spastically flickering in my over-active brain, think…exploding sun. Luckily for me…my predictive skills suck and this book was (dare I say it) just as good as the cover. (Insert mildly humiliating happy dance.)
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. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: 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.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.
So why was this book so good? Because it was. (Ha, just kidding.) Because just when you think the story ends, it’s actually just beginning. (How’s that for completely abstract.)
How about I break it down for you.
First, lets discuss Cas, the lead. While at first he can be a bit abrasive (that’s code for an arrogant ass) you quickly discover it’s all an act. Like most of us…he is jaded, and being so causes him to hide behind sarcasm, wit and loads of pop-culture references. You know what? Cas can explain who he is better than I can:
“I’m not a superhero, ” I say. It’s an awful tag. It’s egotistical, and it doesn’t fit. I don’t parade around in spandex. I don’t do what I do to receive accolades and keys to cities. I work in the dark, killing what should have stayed dead. If people knew what I was up to, they’d probably try to stop me. The idiots would take Casper’s side, and then I’d have to kill Casper and them after Casper bit their throats out. I’m no superhero. If anything I’m Rorschach from Watchmen. I’m Grendel. I’m the survivor in Silent Hill.”
Witty right? (This is where you nod your head yes.) Anyways, Cas is actually narrating this little shin-dig and because he is, we are privileged enough to experience his grief, confusion, determination, (and eventually) heartache first hand; adding an emotional element to one seriously bad-ass ghost story.
Now, as for the story itself…it’s twisty, it’s turny and chalked full of some of the most impressive descriptive passages I have ever come across. For 316 pages I lived inside of this novel, swallowed whole by it’s beauty and anguish. It’s was easy to read. It left no stone unturned, and (as a bonus) it was horrifying in all the right spots.
In short…it was captivating.
Spend the cash, you won’t be sorry…
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Cellars are overrated.
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