Theseus Cassio Lowood (Cas) is a ghost hunter just like this father. His powerful athame (knife!) can destroy a ghost in the space of a heartbeat. However, his biggest challenge is before him when he and his mother--a kitchen witch--and their cat, Tybalt, move to Thunder Bay in search of one of the most powerful ghosts of all. The infamous and terrifying Anna Korlov, or Anna Dressed in Blood. She appears covered in veins, eyes black and terrible, her white party dress dripping blood. She shreds anyone who comes into her house. Except Cas. But the truth of the matter is that a much more terrible entity may be on Cas's trail. And he needs Anna's help to fight it.
When I picked up Anna Dressed in Blood I was somewhat apprehensive. I gave up YA paranormal fiction years ago because in the wake of the Twilight novels, it seemed that many YA paranormals became increasingly formulaic. The good news is that I hit the jackpot with Anna Dressed in Blood! Not only was it a breakneck (pardon the pun) pace right from the beginning, the writing was great, the story was fun, and the characters were unique and genuine.
This book would not have been as awesome without Cas as the narrator. Blake does a fabulous job writing a teen boy's perspective. Cas is a little bit full of himself (he's a super cool ghost hunter!) and more than a little conflicted. He's a loner but he knows how to play his classmates in each new school he visits to get information on the ghosts he needs to pursue. He has his hands full when he meets Carmel (most popular girl in school) and Thomas (witch, mind reader, loser) and actually makes some friends.
Anna herself is an amazing and enigmatic character. She's the most powerful ghost Cas has ever encountered (which is saying a lot). She's intelligent, thoughtful, introspective, and bound by a powerful spell to destroy. Can Cas help her? Can he keep from falling in love?
If you're not OK with gore, this book might not be for you. I think of it as a true horror/ghost story. There's no question about what's going bump in the night in this book. It's Anna, she's pissed, and she might rip out your intestines. 'Nuff said.
Cheers to Kendare Blake for writing a really cool, fast-paced, surprising, scary novel. I had a little trouble sleeping when I was done. I kinda thought there might be a ghost hiding in my attic. I think now it might just be a squirrel family. I hope.
If you're interested, there is a sequel to this book called Girl of Nightmares. I have the e-book (thanks, Heather!) and will read it as soon as I am ready to be freaked out again. From what I can tell, the sequel is the end of the series. It's not ANOTHER TRILOGY. Maybe. We'll see.
Snuggle (though skewering would be appropriate to the book) -- Skewer
Pub. Date: August 2011
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates