Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: July 5th 2012
Source: Publisher for review

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder 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: move, 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, but now stained red and dripping 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. And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

After everyone yelled and screeched about how wonderful this novel was, I finally read it and immediately understood the hype. There's no denying that Kendare Blake has created a magnificent group of characters who undoubtedly take this book from great to absolutely amazing. Furthermore, its eerie setting and the bloodcurdling murders will surely have you darting your eyes around the room throughout the night! This fabulous horror mystery will keep you on your toes and guessing till the very end, and it's an outstanding debut that I won't hesitate to read again.

Being a past Supernatural fanatic, Anna Dressed in Blood struck all the right chords with me. From the moment Theseus Cassio Lowood stepped out wielding his weapons to take down a crazed ghost hitchhiker, I was taken. Making his first kill at fourteen under the guidance of his now deceased father, Cas has moved on to be a professional supernatural hunter, having been to twelve high schools over the past three years. Currently, he's living with his Wiccan mother in Thunder Bay, Ontario for his next kill - Anna Dressed in Blood.

Much like Dean Winchester, Cas is a smooth talker. He pulls the gossip-centre queen bees of every school into his clutches and utilises any other resources he can find. He's always worked alone too…until now. As much as he tries to fend them off, Cas finds himself with a pair of willing helpers - the queen bee, Carmel, and the strange outsider/telepathic, Thomas. The three couldn't be more different and yet they share amazing chemistry as a group. Anna Dressed in Blood is unexpectedly funny and full of wit, which perfectly balances out the action and drama. Although they represent the stereotypes of high schoolers, Blake's characters certainly don't behave within the boundaries of their 'type'. They show us sides to them that we, and they, don't anticipate and it's exciting to wait for what they'll do next. As soon as I became invested in these characters, I was extremely nervous knowing that Cas would eventually have to move on and leave them all behind. You just can't do that to us, Kendare….. YOU CAN'T BREAK UP THIS GROUP!

Anna Korlov is the girl who was suspiciously murdered back in 1958, and she's now the most vicious ghost you can come across. Strangely enough, everyone but Cas who walks through the doors of her house gets killed, and he's therefore the only one who can save her. With his help, we slowly learn about her past and feel the same curiosity and sympathy for her that he does. She's not truly evil, you see, but stuck with a terrible compulsion to harm others in a blinding and uncontrollable fit of rage. Cas and Anna's relationship was definitely unique. I always went into this book anticipating a romance but had no idea how it would work. He's a human, she's a ghost. He's a protector, she's a killer. I didn't think it was possible but their bond manifested very naturally and in such a believable way! Anna is completely aware of what she's (unwillingly) doing and it only makes Cas more desperate to save her, but there are darker forces at work here that won't let him win so easily...

Now that's all I can say without ruining the delicious plot. Anna Dressed in Blood moves at a great pace and is full of complications that you'll have fun uncovering and solving. Blake executes action scenes flawlessly and knows just how to create the perfect mystery. We're always kept guessing about who is good or evil, who is behind a particular kill and how or if things will work out in the end. The individual character development and romances in this novel are unforgettable and enhanced by the great storytelling. Everything about this book was perfect, I tell you. Let me just go and fangirl somewhere now...after I sulk about the huge, horrible cliffhanger.

"Would you rather be a Trojan or a tiger?"
"What kind of a question is that? Do we have any jam?"
"Strawberry or something called Saskatoon, which looks like blueberry."
I make a sour face. "I'll take the strawberry."
"You should live dangerously. Try the Saskatoon."
"I live dangerously enough. Now what's this about condoms or tigers?"
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY. Gosh, how can you not love this guy?

I know. I'm so late to the party, especially since this was published in Australia a whole year later than in America! Was the second book amazing? I still have to get to it!

Find Kendare on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, her website and blog.
Buy Anna Dressed in Blood from Amazon, The Book Depository, Booktopia and Barnes & Noble.
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