Paperback, UK, 373 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Orchard Books
(first published August 30th 2011)
140832072X (ISBN13: 9781408320723)
Anna Dressed in Blood
literary awardsCybils Award Nominee for Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult) (2011), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2012), YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers (2012), Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of the Year (2011), NPR's Top Five Teen (2011) Endeavor Award Finalist (2012)
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.
I would say this was actually a pretty unique book. It seemed to have its own sense of what it wanted to be and that it wanted to stand out from the crowd rather than join it and be part of it. I liked the fact that the book was written in the context of fitting the young adult and if not younger generation. It wasn't so complex that you could or would get confused when reading it. it was actually pretty well done in a formation that meant you really could get along with it. When I started to read it I actually thought that the main character was a female. Perhaps its just that I am use to reading the young adult books having a main female character, or perhaps its just that the name cas is usually associated with a female rather than a male. However it was nice to then find out and discover it was a male because it added that element of surprise and you knew it wasn't going to be based around which boy was the best looking and which boy they were love in and so forth. You also didn't have to worry about reading how pretty and slim and beautiful they were for like every chapter of the novel. It just made it so much more refreshing in so many different ways and I actually enjoyed engaging with the novel for this sake and purpose.
Of course, every book has it flaws, in that it seemed to me that the school was a little bit unrealistic. Like we all know that your not gonna fall in with the popular girl just like that, even if she has just dumped her hot totty boyfriend. But the author seemed to redeem this fact by showing the top guys as the bullies. They didn't want Cas there and they especially didn't give a rats arse about what happened to him which of course is why they looked and appeared to be trying to kill him when they whacked him around the head in the very house that is known as the house you don't come out alive from. I suppose in many ways this did redeem it because you get that highschool feel about it again. But it still leaves you hmmming because honestly, how many of our schools are like that?
I think the idea of a ghost killer is a hard concept to take in because ghosts, well they are technically dead already, so how can one person kill them again. But for me that made the plot all that more engaging and well written because it was something new and it was almost like a taboo, a subject meant to challenge you to open your mind and really take it all in. Cas has clearly had a difficult past and so his mum and what he does is something that makes you wonder if there are killer ghosts out there, causing people to see the end of there life. However, Anna seems to be a ghost that really does send a chill down your spine, because I know I would be petrified to step into her house and for a second or too, you can actually see that Cas is also too afraid of stepping in the house but he knows that it is something that he has to do. Clearly though there is more than meets the eyes when it comes to anna, especially when the only person she doesn't appear to want to kill is Cas. This leaves you wondering why, whats so special about Cas that she can't kill him when she could kill say mike without a moments hesitation, power or thought.
This was clearly therefore meant to be the main priority of the book. It wasn't really so much about killing the ghost it was about understanding that everyone and everything has a past, something that makes them the person that they are at that time and moment. I found it interesting to discover annas past and it really did allow me to feel more connected to the plot and I actually felt like I needed to be someone to offer her a helping hand and to set her free from what her parents made her suffer. it really made me cringe but it also made me appreciate the parents I have because so many kids do actually have parents who could and perhaps are as cruel as Anna's. Therefore in some ways and senses I would say that the book has a thought provoking element to it, in that it really opens your eyes and makes you engage your lifestyle with that which is represented there in the pages.
You could see a love story developing between Cas and Anna and whilst it would be nice to read about it, I was grateful for the sense of mystery and drama, when something still isn't right and is still going about and killing people who really don't deserve to be killed, who just needed a kick up the backside perhaps. I think that for me the series is ideally going to be about the monster that killed Cas' father and is now after something new, someone else. I do think that Anna too will play a big priority of the novel and the way that it ended did leave you feeling the need, want and power to have more. you can just see that there is a lot of room for this series to succeed and to become succesful because it has its main focus and its not about the same usual thing. we just have to hope that the author keeps it up and doesn't fall back into the cliche.