First Book Review for the Year 2012
Featuring: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
YA Supernatural Horror. Tor Teen.
“Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills people story.”
I actually read a hundred-and-fourteen pages of this last year, but carried it over into this one. Let me start of by saying about the caption above: this book is anything but average. I truly would have finished this book in one day if I hadn’t been so busy with holidays and the rush of the New Year. I came at this book as a reader, a writer, and someone who wanted to learn as much as they could about it by studying it. That means picking it apart to help with my own writing, gleaning any secrets that I could, to make my own work better. I was both challenged and excited by what I learned.
Theseus Cassio Lowood, a ghost-hunter, is truly a character that goes through a major story arc of being so alone in his world to opening up to let others in by the end. In fact, most of the major characters go through their own growth. From Carmel, the prom queen, forced to tackle a part of life she didn’t know about to Thomas, the geek who’s forced to become a hero, to Anna, whose story we learn and come to fear.
Studying the inciting incidents in the story gave me a stronghold I hope for my own. From the beginning when stakes rise as Carmel and Thomas start to get closer to the truth about who Cas really is and what he does for a living. And we have Anna and Cas confronting each other, neither sure what to do about the other, both feeling an “attraction” toward the other. Cas has a hard time admitting he needs friends/allies. He wants to continue his old life of move, hunt, kill. Little does he know what life has in store.
Cas got into the ghost-hunting business when he was old enough, taking his father’s athame (knife) said to link him to it by a blood tie. His ancestors forged the knife, bled upon it, to put the spirits down. He belongs to the knife, and it to him. He doesn’t know what becomes of the spirits when he kills them and his father taught him never to ask. When he learns Anna’s story of how she was murdered, Cas can’t kill her. Instead, he frees her.
When his athame is stolen it weakens Cas and he must go through more changes to be reunited with it. Anna warns there is a darkness attached to the knife. More bodies start to appear with Anna freed and Cas must decide whether he believes Anna is guilty of their murder or not. And how he plans to deal with the growing horror. The resulting battle is fierce, tender, and explosive.
My thoughts on the book? I loved to see the knock-down, drag-out justice of Cas. I worry about events that are clues to a sequel book or books. This is a story that grabs you and makes you care about Cas and his friends. So worrying about them in the future is good. I was truly thrown by the twists and turns of the story and discovered the truth along with Cas. I knew something was up, of course, but couldn’t put my finger on what. And that’s the mark of an excellent book. I think Kendare Blake did an excellent job bringing the characters to life and the end was a smash. Not what you’d expect, but what you’d hope for with the people involved.
Overall, I give it a 4 ½ *, the ½ because I wanted a “happier” ending. Still, it’s a keeper and I’ll never forget the journey of this book. Stephen King says you have to learn to be swept away by a good book before you can write one, here’s hoping I learned the lessons from this one that I can use to improve my own.
So have you read Anna? What do you think, feel, like, hate etc. about it?
Next up: The Nine Lives of Chloe King by Liz Braswel writing as Celia Thomson. Another YA Horror.