Halloween Reads: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

October 31, 2014 / 7 Comments / Review, Uncategorized

Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake (website | twitter)

Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover316 pages

Publication date:
October 17, 2011
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Buy it:  Indigo.ca | Indiebound | B&N | The Book Depository | Amazon

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the
murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood,
Cas expects the usual: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.

Yet she spares Cas’s life. 


Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter who inherited his powers from his father, who died in the act of killing a ghost. Cas and his mother move around to different places based on tips about ghosts, and his latest mission is to kill the ghost of Anna Korlov, or Anna Dressed in Blood. But when he ends up at her house, she bypasses him, and he discovers that he is the only person that Anna has ever not killed.

What follows is a horror story, with a lot of
classic elements done well – haunted houses, voodoo, ghosts, and magic all play a part here, and the paranormal parts were interestingly and uniquely used. Anna’s house was particularly well described and I liked how much it played a part in the atmosphere of the book.

The classic YA tropes of being an outsider, being special because of a certain power were laid bare here – maybe a little too bare? While I enjoyed the story, it was quite predictable. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out what was going on or what was going to happen. I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t more twists and turns.

In particular, the major romantic plotline of the book was a serious case of insta-love. I don’t want to give a lot away, but it was a big part of the book, and I just didn’t feel like that
relationship had payoff at all. The two characters spoke to each other two times and it seemed like they were already in love. It was hard for me to believe in, and because of that, I was never fully immersed in the story.

I think a big part of my disengagement with the story was the writing – especially the voices of the characters. I never felt like any of the characters had really distinct voices – everyone just seemed like an extension of one voice. While this works for teens who want to put themselves in the characters’ shoes, it made the story a lot less believeable for me.

Anna’s voice also didn’t really work for me; her way of speaking felt anachronistic. She talked like a regular teenager, and given that she was a Finnish immigrant from 1958, it just didn’t feel authentic. One of the first things Anna says to Cas is that he hasn’t shown her all his best “moves” yet. I felt like a girl who died in 1958 might not have that grasp of slang already.

Overall, I did enjoy Anna Dressed in Blood and I felt like it was a good
Halloween book. The gory elements worked and I appreciated the setting of Thunder Bay, Ontario (Canada represent!). I will probably pick up the second book, Girl of
Nightmares, just because I’d like to know what happens next – it doesn’t
quite end on a cliffhanger, but there are definitely loose threads that
I want tied up!


Kick-Ass Secondary Characters: I loved the secondary characters in the story. Cas’ mom, his
new friend Thomas, Thomas’ grandfather Morfran, and cool girl Carmel had great dialogue and really made the story come more alive for me and made it feel very much
like a teen experience.

The Final Word: 

I’m usually an incredible wimp when it comes to horror, but this one
wasn’t so much scary as gory occasionally. For those of you who are
interested in reading but don’t like horror, I would say that this is
like horror-lite – both in the story and the writing. It’s a fun read, and it’s one that you can read quickly – if you haven’t read a scary book yet this October, this might be the one for you.

Have you read ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD or the sequel, GIRL OF NIGHTMARES? Did the voice or story work for you? If not, have you read any Halloween or scary reads lately? Let me know in the comments!

Want to win an OCTOBER NEW RELEASE? Hop over to my giveaway!

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7 responses to “Halloween Reads: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

  1. Awww sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this book quite as much. It was my first spooky ghost read so I thought it was interesting and pretty unique šŸ˜€ I've read Girl of Nightmares and even though it wasn't what I pictured, it was still fun.

    Eileen @ BookCatPin

    • It was my first ghost story in a long time – my last one was Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, which also wasn't really that scary, but I found it a lot more interesting and unique.

      I felt a bit like Anna was a paint-by-numbers YA – it didn't feel like the author was going beyond what was required – it felt like she was following a story outline instead of taking the book and elevating it. Nevertheless, there were moments that I really enjoyed, like learning about Anna's backstory. It's definitely a fun horror story. I hope I can get to Girl of Nightmares because I really do want to know what happens.

  2. I really liked this book (I realize now that I put a 4-star rating on goodreads) but I don't remember much about it. I mean, I remember Anna, but not the main character and not so much about the story! Since I read it 3 months ago, I guess this means that the book was one of those cookie-cutter YA books which use all the same tropes!

  3. Lucy

    I’ve always wanted to read this book! I’m so sorry that you didn’t enjoy it as much as you wanted to. I think I know where you’re coming from. I generally don’t enjoy books that have a too-quick love connection? You know what I mean? I really hope that you like the second book a little bit better! I can’t wait to see more of your book reviews! šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚

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