Kendare Blake struck gold with her debut novel Anna Dressed in Blood. With all the hype this book has received since publication, I couldn't believe tKendare Blake struck gold with her debut novel Anna Dressed in Blood. With all the hype this book has received since publication, I couldn't believe that one, it was a debut novel, and two that it would actually live up to the hype once I read it. I was pleasantly surprised when the story blew me out of the water, or at least out of my reading rut.
While I wouldn't classify this story as a horror story necessarily, there were definitely parts that spooked me. The description of each ghost that Cas encounters is extremely vivid and somewhat graphic. Blake does a superb job of bringing the varioius entities to life. Whether she was describing a random ghost, Anna's transformation, or a ritualistic spell, you can picture every small detail as if you were watching it in movie form. The description of Anna's kills left me speechless and cringing as I pictured the mutilated bodies, and I cried in horror when I found out exactly what killed Anna because the scene was so realistic and gruesome.
Speaking of descriptions, Blake creates a great cast of characters to back up the gruesome plot. At one point the author describes Cas as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that's when it clicked in my head. The cast is totally the cast from Buffy! Cas is Buffy the ghost killer, Thomas is Willow the witch, Carmel is Cordilia the popular girls turned badass, and Will, well I couldn't place Will, but that's beside the point. You even have the English book nerd that compares to Giles. I love it!
The Buffy thing aside, I felt the cast was well balanced and each brought out the best in the next. Cas is your typical "I'm so alone in the world" type as he moves from town to town slaying ghosts until the day he gets to avenge his dead father. When he meets up with Thomas, the outsider at school, he finds that maybe a friend could be a bit helpful. Add in Carmel, the most popular kid in school, and you have the fearsome trio that make up the main cast of the story. Following these three through the various twists and turns of the plot never leaves a dull moment. I'd say this story is anything but predictable as the story changes from one antagonist to the next.
A couple of qualms with the novel. First off, even though I knew that Cas was a boy, I had trouble getting it in my head that he was male. My mind kept going back to a female lead for a good part of the book. This might simply be that I've read too many books lately with female leads and it was hard to switch over. Second, I felt the romance side of things was a little pushed. It wasn't necessary to make the story great. Affection between them was needed in order to move the story further, but affection doesn't always have to transcribe to romance in my opinion. If the author really wanted a romance aspect of the book, I would have done it with a different set of characters. (Leaving out names on purpose, don't want to ruin the surprise!)
If I hadn't looked it up, I wouldn't have realized that this book has sequel (coming out Aug 2012). The book leaves almost nothing open for continuation, other then the fact that there are always more ghosts for Cas to hunt down. I wonder if the story will stay in the same town and keep around some of the main characters, or will Cas run off on a whole new adventure? It's always nice to see a first book in a series stand on it's own, but I'm a bit baffled on where the story will go next. Too bad I have to wait so long to find out. ...more