Anna Dressed in Blood (ARC Review)

, by Kt Clapsadl

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Anna Dressed in Blood #1

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

So 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. 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: 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.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.  

Cas lost his father at a young age, but he inherited his father's odd skills. Cas kills the dead, or at least the murderous ghosts that are left behind when people don't just stay dead. He's spent his life moving from place to place to seek out these ghosts and give them their final end. However, this latest move feels different. There's just something pulling him towards Anna's story, and he knows he must get to the bottom of it. He may have expected her to be just an ordinary ghost that he could easily vanquish, but he quickly finds her to be nothing like he has ever encountered. She brutally kills any who enters her house but for some unknown reason she spares him, only opening up more questions for Cas that he must get to the bottom of before it's too late.

One of the best things about this book was the characters. They were fully realized and were so easy to get attached to. I especially enjoyed Cas's character. He grew so much from the start. In the beginning he was such a loner, shut off from the rest of the world and quite single-minded in his path. Due to his father's murder he had kept everyone at arms length, even his own mother and focused only on revenge towards ghost. However as time went on, his walls of defense slowly came down, and he started to make friends and set up roots. As this went on, and he opened up he started to realize everything he had been missing. I think his biggest lesson was the fact that he didn't have to chose between being alone and pursuing his life's mission. I think a lot of this growth was a direct result of Anna herself. But, I won't get into how she could possibly have done this considering what she is, you'll have to just read it for yourself. :)

I haven't read a whole lot of ghost stories in that I scare pretty easy, but for some reason the description of this book really stood out to me. Perhaps I just wanted a fresh read to take a break from the typical paranormal books I read that feature vampires or weres and the like. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find the book to be even more set apart from the norm in that it is told entirely from a male character's first person perspective. Considering the fact that I've only read one other series with that type of narration, it definitely was a refreshing change of pace for me. I'll never completely turn away from my "tried and true" type of stories, but every so often I need that break, and Anna Dressed in Blood more than filled that requirement, making for an excellent read.

I was so excited to finally get a chance to read this book! I think I checked my mailbox every day for my review copy to arrive, but Anna Dressed in Blood was more than worth any wait. At first I had thought it was a stand alone novel, and the story could have technically been all wrapped up where it was left. However, there was a hint of where the story might go, which makes me desperate to get my hands on the next installment. I cannot wait to see where things lead, and I really hope Cas finds what he is looking for. Anna Dressed is one of those stories that will grab a hold of you from the very start and not let go. Trust me, you won't want to miss this.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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