07/11/2014

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood {Kendare Blake}




Written by Kendare Blake

Cas Lowood kills the dead. And so did his father, until he was murdered by a ghost. Now, armed with his father's 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 keeping the living at arm's length. When they arrive in a small town searching for the deadly local legend 'Anna Dressed in Blood', Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. But what he finds 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, stained red and dripping with blood. And since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into her deserted Victorian house. And yet she spares Cas's life.

Anna Dressed in Blood combines the eerie ghosts and stoic hunters of Supernatural with a fun and comedic group dynamic. It offers everything from bubbling romance and unexpected friendship, to gory murder scenes and brutally creepy phantoms.

Cas is a ghost hunter that patrols the country killing spirits, with his wiccan mother in tow. After his dad is horrifically murdered, Cas adopts his powerful athame and swears vengeance. He's not just hunting for ghosts, he's hunting for the thing that killed his father.

Cas was subtly manipulative enough to play the role of someone used to adjusting to their surroundings, stealthy and skilled enough to be the trained hunter he claimed to be, and yet also wry and anxious enough to be just another teenage boy. Kendare Blake really did a wonderful job crafting a character who manages to be so many things, none of them ever seeming forced or overdone.

Unfortunately, I wasn't too keen on Cas's new friends. Thomas seemed like a recycled version of every typical 'smart sidekick' character and Carmel was far too bland to ever capture my interest. 

Anna more than made up for that though. Her darker side was truly scary in some points and the vividly grotesque descriptions of her, right down to the dark tendrils of hair, were enough to creep me out.

As we watch her struggle with the more demonic side of herself, and her back-story is revealed, I only liked her more and became invested in her as a character who, despite anything, was still fit for redemption.

This is a romance as well as a horror, but that aspect never really takes shape. It's hinted at and implied, but never fully-developed, which I was pleased with. At its core, this is a ghost story, and I was glad the focus remained on that, splattering some blood-red droplets of doomed love, but never drawing away from the story with it. Instead we're treated to a plot that twists and turns in so many surprising ways, redeeming old murderers and revealing new ones.

This was a fantastically eerie ghost story that made the perfect Halloween read. Kendare Blake was able to effortlessly balance gory ghostly murders with slow-burning romance and a plot that twists and turns with the wind. It wasn't perfect, and some clichés floated through to the surface, but overall this was a satisfying start to the series.

"Having no choice doesn't seem fair, but having all of them isn't easier."

 
 
Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart
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29 comments:

  1. I agree, there were heaps of cliches in this story but the creepiness of Anna more than made up for it. A perfect Halloween read, great timing in reading this one Allie! Hope you enjoy the sequel as well, that one had a suicide forest *shudders* Great review hun!

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  2. I feel like I missed the chance to read Anna for this year! I'm super jealous because you got to sneak in a distinctively halloween-esque read (while I went for the good ol' mild gothicism). I've always put this one off, purely because of the "goriness". And it's old because I have nothing against gore. But I'm putting it aside for a 2015 halloween read. I'll count down the next...12 months :P Brilliant review, Allie! <33 x

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    1. You can always read it on Christmas; it'll lighten up the mood ;)

      To be fair, it's more creepy than gory. Although, yes, there is goriness, but I think the scarier parts are the 'less is more' parts. The gory bits come and go quite quickly, so I wouldn't worry!

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  3. Anna was definitely the star of this series. I really need to read book two.

    Great review!

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    1. Yeah, I'm really excited for that! Especially since Jeann just mentioned there's a suicide forest! It sounds so cool.

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  4. So everyone always yells at me when I mention that I haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood yet AND on Halloween that number tripled since it was everyone's go to Halloween creepy read. This makes me think that I really need to get my priorities in order and start reading it. I love my ghost stories Allie and this one does sound epic. I can deal with cliché's as long as a story has something to make up for it and Anna Dress in Blood sounds like it has a bunch of crazy creepiness that will make me love it! Lovely review :)

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    1. I'M GOING TO YELL AT YOU RIGHT NOW. Hehe. Really though, I can't talk, because I've only just read it myself. BUT SHAME ON YOU ANYWAY.

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  5. I enjoyed Anna too, but the sequel not so much. I do hope you get to enjoy the next story…but for me I expected something a little more than predictable huhu Great review, darlin. <3

    www.lite-rate-ture.com

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    1. Ohhh :( don't say that! Was it really predictable / corny? I've heard Anna isn't in it much, which I'm rather disappointed about

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  6. I like that quote! I am curious about this one - it sounds interesting and I've heard good things overall.

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    1. It's quite unique and if you love Supernatural, you'll love this! It's always nice to read about 'professional' hunters, rather than random teenagers finding themselves in precarious situations with ghosts

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  7. So glad you liked it! I agree, there were some bits that could have been better. Will you be reading the 2nd book? Personally I felt it was a bit of a let-down compared to the 1st one. Still, not bad either, though.

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    1. Yeah, I definitely want to; some aspects sound really interesting (the suicide forest, for instance). Most people are telling me it's a let-down though and that Anna isn't in it much, which I'm not loving :(

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  8. I haven't read this book yet but I've always wanted to! I feel like this book shouldn't be read for any other time except Halloween. Lol. However I'm so glad it's good! I need some creepiness in my life, so maybe I'll just break my rule. ;)

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    1. LOL, it is definitely great for Halloween. I won't deny that! I do think it's an awesome read in general though, so I'd say to go for it any time you're in the mood to be creeped out

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  9. Wow, this sounds good! I LOVE that there are tons of twists and turns, and I love the subtle romance. I have been on the fence about reading this, because of the gore factor, but I am thinking it is worth giving a try! Great review :)

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    1. Oh, I love a bit of gore! But then, I'm a horror junkie. You'll definitely be surprised by the direction of certain things (well, I was anyway!)

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  10. I am not a huge fan of horror novels-nightmares are bound to occur when I read them-but nevertheless I loved Anna Dressed in Blood.Both the main characters were well developed-especially Anna- and most of all the writing of Kendare Blake is so amazing. I'll love even a physics textbook if Kendare Blake wrote it.
    Have you read her Antigoddess?

    Mishma @ As the page turns

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    1. LOL. Strangely, I don't get nightmares form books. Movies can creep me out majorly, but I think that's because of the strong visuals. Books aren't scary enough to give me chills after I'm finished. I'm clearly too bad- ass ;)

      This is my first Kendare book! What's Antigoddess like???

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  11. I absolutely adored Kendare's Antigoddess series, but for some reason, despite the glowing reviews I haven't picked this one up yet. (Ha! Who am I kidding! We all know why I haven't picked it up yet - I'm scared of the creepiness here!) However, I'm definitely reconsidering picking this up because, despite the cliches, this sounds like the perfect creepy read with the murder mystery and the ghost aspect. Plus mind-blowing plot twists? YESSS! :D

    Thanks for sharing Allie, and fabulous review! <3

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    1. You're the second person to recommend that to me! I haven't even heard of it before LOL. I live under a rock, clearly, Zo!

      I think you'll like this! I can see you being a bit iffy about the same things I was (particularly certain romantic elements), but you'll love Anna's creepiness!

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  12. this sounds sufficiently creepy even if side characters werent the most original

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  13. Ooh, this sounds deliciously spooky, Allie - thanks for a wonderful review! I definitely think I should read this soon as I received both books in the duology for Christmas last year.

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    1. Ohhh, did you? LUCKY. I've bought the second book now and am waiting for it to arrive. Exciting times!

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  14. I'm really excited to get my hands on this book! I don't read anywhere near as many creepy reads as I want to. I hear such good things about this one though, and it has a very Supernatural feel to it. Supernatural is one of my favourite shows, so I clearly need this book in my life!

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    1. Honestly, it's insanely similar to Supernatural in some parts. I like to think of it as Dean: The Teenage Years haha

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  15. Glad to hear you enjoyed this! It was kind of terrifying for me (since I don't read a lot of horrors) but I loved that it really was more of a horror story than a romance, haha. I think I liked Thomas and Carmel better in book 2.

    Great review, Allie!

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