Kaye Thornbrugh's Reviews > Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
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bookshelves: best-male-narrators, reviewed

I’ve been dying to read Anna Dressed in Blood since I first noticed it floating around the blogosphere: The cover is hauntingly beautiful, and the title alone was enough to intrigue me. But the premise—a ghost hunter falls in love with the murderous ghost he’s supposed to kill—was what had me chomping at the bit. Finally, a pair of star-crossed lovers that’s totally original and actually interesting!

Before I started reading, I expected Anna Dressed in Blood to be a Brenna Yovanoff sort of book (and, for the record, I’m over the moon for Brenna Yovanoff). I sort of got what I expected. Blake’s prose was rich in description and detail, finding the beauty in grisly things, though Cas’ first-person narration sometimes fell a little flat for me. Still, as far as narrators go, Cas spins a pretty good yarn, and his dry humor and observations won me over in the end.

The cast of supporting characters was varied and interesting. I fell in love with Thomas, who’s an excellent twist on the dogged geek trope, and Kendare Blake did a fantastic job writing Carmel. She took the “queen bee” archetype that the rest of the genre has trained readers to instantly dislike and turned it on its head. My only complaint is that I would’ve liked to see the Thomas/Carmel romance develop with a touch more subtlety; it felt like Cas slapped me in the face with it every few pages.

Speaking of: Though it’s definitely a love story, don’t go into Anna Dressed in Blood expecting a typical romance. The romance between Anna and Cas is slow and subtle (not to be confused with boring, which it’s definitely not). At times, I didn’t feel the chemistry between Cas and Anna, but because I shared Cas’ fascination with Anna—whose is beautiful and terrible, powerful and vulnerable—it was easy to go along for the ride.

Let me make something clear: I love horror movies. I love them, the more blood and guts the better. That said, the horror elements (y’know, the blood and guts) in Anna Dressed in Blood seemed pretty tame. Bodies were ripped in half, limbs were torn off, basements were filled with rotting corpses—but the descriptions didn’t hit me viscerally, possibly because they barely seemed to hit Cas viscerally, and even when they did, I felt detached from what he was experiencing.

When I read a horror novel, I want to be made uncomfortable. I want to squirm in my seat and grimace at the images being painted in my mind. But Anna Dressed in Blood just didn’t do it for me on that front. Less desensitized stomachs might be turned by the gore, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll just keep flipping those pages undisturbed.

Still, the sheer originality of the plot and romance, as well as the engaging characters, were enough to keep me reading and thinking about the story, even after I’d put the book down.

TL;DR: Anna Dressed in Blood is an original, eerie love story the likes of which you haven’t seen. Highly recommended.
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Reading Progress

July 1, 2012 – Started Reading
July 1, 2012 – Shelved
July 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
October 21, 2012 – Shelved as: best-male-narrators
October 3, 2013 – Shelved as: reviewed

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