The first book I completed from my horror-filled TBR pile for October is Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake and it was the perfect ghost story to really get me into the spirit of Halloween. It’s the first book in a duology (the second being Girl of Nightmares). I loved it so much that I’m really looking forward to diving into more of the horror I have planned for this month! The story follows Cas, a ghost hunter following in his dead father’s footsteps, who moves to a little Canadian town to hunt his latest tip about a very hostile ghost named Anna. Cas lives with his mom who’s a witch, their black cat Tybalt and his most prized possession is his athame which he uses to slay ghosts.
As someone who is scared by just about everything, I was expecting nightmares and to feel unbearably spooked while reading but I was so interested in Cas and Anna’s stories that I was too enthralled to feel scared (except for one time when I had to mentally prepare myself to go upstairs alone). The book has a very Supernatural feel to it and I couldn’t help picturing Sam and Dean’s car in the first chapter. Cas is not your average teenage boy (being a ghost hunter and all) and though he’s never been open to getting attached to people he falls into developing some friendships in this new town. Anna, the ghost he’s hunting, has an exceptional story. She’s often thought of by Cas as a goddess of death. She haunts the halls of a small Victorian house and she wears a long white dress that’s soaked in blood and because the fabric is oversaturated, the sound of blood dripping onto the floor is audible when anyone is in her presence. She’s different than any other ghost he’s dealt with thus far.
Kendare Blake’s writing gives way to imagery that is creepy and descriptive and it really romanticizes all of the elements of the story. It made everything feel spooky but with an underlying beauty. As I was reading, I kept going back to past paragraphs just so I could spend more time imagining the scenes and really seeing the setting. I became so invested in finding out about Anna’s past. The characters – main and supporting – are delightful and the plot just hooked me from the beginning. I also really enjoyed the pacing of the novel because it felt like something was always happening. There were never any lulls in action or story and it interwove the two elements beautifully.
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. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
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. (via Goodreads)