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.
Horror After Dark Review
ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, by Kendare Blake, is the first in a two-novel series. Theseus Cassio Lowood (Cas) is a teenager that has a unique . . . job . For generations, the men in his family have dispatched violent ghosts that stick around, and are somehow able to harm the living. Since his father’s murder, Cas has been the one to wield the sacred athame, which–for lack of a better word–kills the ghosts for good.
“. . . It’s only other people who think you can’t kill what’s already dead . . .”
When Cas gets a tip about a girl dressed in a white gown that drips blood, he and his mother immediately pack up and move to the location. The number of murders this ghost is allegedly responsible for is far more than the “usual”, in his line of work.
“. . . Death is my world. Everything else . . . they’re just things that get in the way of my next ghost . . . “
Cas and his mother–a white witch–are characters I instantly liked. Cas seems to have a great understanding of how things work around him, yet no friends of his own. When your life is “school, dispatch evil ghost, move on to the next”, there really isn’t any time for the normal teenaged things.
“. . . living people are irritating . . .”
The other “live” characters are exactly what you’d expect, with the exception of one other boy and his grandfather. As for Anna, the author put a unique spin on her story. There were some honest surprises as far as she was concerned.
A few details did bother me, as we weren’t given any explanation for how they were possible, but I can’t give specifics without spoilers. In general, they concerned the house, itself, that Anna was bound to, and certain things I wouldn’t believe a ghost–as we commonly “think” of them–are able to do.
“. . . life doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t care about fair or unfair . . .”
The atmosphere changed depending upon the situation, and usually felt “right” throughout the entire novel. I enjoyed the sarcasm and comments made by Cas–a boy who cared, but knew little of the living people around him.
“. . . one can never be sure if something is looking right at them if that something’s eyes have been sewn shut.”
Overall, I found this to be a novel with a unique premise and likable characters. As for those that weren’t, they were clearly not meant to be. There were no real “lulls” in the action, and I felt the pacing was well done all throughout. A few details did bother me–especially the more I dwelled on them–but as there is a sequel to this, perhaps an explanation will be given there. If not, this was the one thing that took me “out of” the story for a bit while reading it. Still, a good read with some new ideas on the “ghost/haunting” sub-genre.
About The Author
Kendare Blake grew up in the small city of Cambridge, Minnesota. She is a graduate of Ithaca College, in Ithaca, New York and received a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Middlesex University in London, England. She loves to travel, is an advocate for animals, and cheats a lot when she plays Final Fantasy. Adopted from South Korea at the age of seven months, she arrived with the following instruction: “Feed her chocolate.” Though not medically advisable, she and her parents are eternally grateful for this advice.
Kendare is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of several novels including ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, ANTIGODDESS and THREE DARK CROWNS.
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