Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Source: Personal Purchase
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...
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.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a book that's been highly recommended to me since it's release in August 2011. Granted, it's not a book that I would have been prone to jump at, because I don't consider myself a big fan of scary books, but that many readers can't be wrong, right?
As it turns out, the high praise for Anna Dressed in Blood was well-earned. Kendare Blake wrote a book that was both cringe-worthy and gorgeous. Scary and funny. In short, a fantastic read that reminded me a lot of Supernatural, but was completely it's own.
As well as the writing, I fell in love with the characters. Cas Lockwood is not a typically endearing protagonist. He's a teen curmudgeon. A loner. Snarky and dry-witted, but lovable all the same. Thomas, Cas' sidekick best friend, was a character that I immediately liked. Shy, awkward, and unpopular, Thomas can hold his own in the paranormal world, and it's cool to see him embrace his power. Carmel, the third member of the ghost busting trio, is a popular girl who basically runs the school. To see a girl with so much to lose, socially, sort of shrug her shoulders and hang out with Cas and Thomas was a nice surprise for me.
But I've left out the title character, Anna. I didn't expect Anna to be an actual character in the story. I obviously knew that she was important to the story, but I didn't realize that she was more than a scary ghost girl, dripping in blood. I expected Cas and Co. to spend the story trying to find a way to kill her. I didn't expect Anna to actually have a story. And what a sad, tragic story she has. It truly made me sorry for her. Sorry enough, maybe, to forgive her sins.
The one problem I had with Anna Dressed in Blood is the fact that Cas basically goes gaga for Anna. This super strong connection is something that I didn't truly feel, and I just didn't get it or understand it. Why didn't Anna go after Cas? I mean, she knows he's after her. How could he just overlook the fact that she ripped kids apart, even if it wasn't truly her fault?
**End of Spoiler**
Okay, despite having that one, albeit major, problem with the story, I kind of loved Anna Dressed in Blood. I was riveted by the story, I had to know what would happen to Anna. Would she kill Cas?Would he kill her. The story was unique, beautifully written and highly entertaining.
"I think of her again. Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood. I wonder what tricks she'll try. I wonder if she'll be clever. Will she float? Will she laugh or scream?
How will she try to kill me?" (pg.32)
You can purchase Anna Dressed in Blood at:
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Series: Anna #2
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 7, 2011
Source: Received from publisher for review.
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.
His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with. Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears. Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.
**This review is spoiler-free for Girl of Nightmares, but may contain spoilers for Anna Dressed in Blood.**
Anna Dressed in Blood ended with a fantastic and frightening bang. Anna took the plunge for Cas, Thomas, and Carmen; saving them and damning herself. It's an ending that had readers begging for me, and me feeling super happy that I didn't have to wait a year for Girl of Nightmares.
Girl of Nightmares picks up six months later. Cas, Thomas and Carmen are living in the aftermath of the brutal murders that occurred in Anna. They still go on missions, but the teen ghost hunters seem to have lost their groove. Cas is being haunted by visions of Anna, her being tormented in hell. Of course, this causes Cas to push towards finding Anna and freeing her, no matter the cost.
Thomas and Carmen want to be supportive, but there doesn't seem to be any way around what happened, and think Cas should move on. Carmen and Thomas were great in this book. Thomas is such a devoted best friend and never once hesitates, even though he surely is frightened. Carmen surprised me. She has moments of doubt, but is always strong. Her uncertainty and questioning made her the most realistic character in the story.
But...it sort of felt like Cas' not-quite-charming-but-still-endearing personality went down the chute right along with Anna. I don't know what this kid expected. To fall in love with a girl that's been dead for sixty years, bring her back to life and live happily ever after? I know this story is fiction, it's a paranormal ghost tale. But I really wanted to punch Cas in the shoulder and tell him to "Get real for a minute." I could probably overlook it for the most part, if I ever truly understood the connection between Cas and Anna. The whole ripping people apart (even though she wasn't in control) is something I could never get past. Also, I'm bothered by his willingness to risk his, but especially his friends' lives, in order to save Anna. I sort of get it, but I mostly felt conflicted.
But when I take that aspect out of the equation, I really liked Girl of Nightmares. We learn more about the history of the athame and why Thomas has the ability to use it. Though I must say, I never felt like I had a truly clear answer about who the athame was meant for and why. I spent a nice portion of the story interested, yet put off by Cas' single-mindedness. I was worried that he would jerk around and cause me to be really disappointed with Girl of Nightmares. The last sixty-ish pages of the story saved it, for me. It was scary, exhilarating, surprising, and wound up leaving me feeling very, very satisfied.
"It's the Suicide Forest. I'm walking through the f^cking Suicide Forest with two witches, and a knife that flashes to the dead like a damn lighthouse." (pg.235)
You can purchase Girl of Nightmares at:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
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