by Kendare Blake
Published: August 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Add it: Goodreads | Buy it: Indie Bound
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder 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: move, 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, but now stained red and dripping 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.
And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.
Nicole: Working my way through ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, and I can't stop laughing because marketing. The cover has a quote from Cassie Clare that describes it as "spellbinding and romantic" and I just passed the scene where a teenage boy is literally ripped in half and left twitching. One of these things is not like the other.
Donna: Irrespective of the fact that I ignore anything that tumbles out of Cassandra Clare's mouth I think the timing of ANNA was unfortunate because it was just marketed to all the wrong people. It's so gruesome and awesome that it made my inner YA horror nerd squee but romantic it certainly is NOT. Seriously . . . OMG did you rip those intestines out for MEEEEEEEEEEE? HOW SWEET.
Nicole: Terrible marketing is one of the things that pisses me off about the YA genre right now; they try so hard to coast on the tails of what's popular that they forget that they could be the next big thing or just sell more by marketing to the right people. I'm LOVING all of the gruesome imagery right now. It's awesome.
Sya: I have a copy of Graceling that states ' lovers of Twilight will love this'. Possibly, but isn't Katsa the anti-Bella?? Also, I like City of Bones but the Meyer blurb on the cover put me of for literal years.
Donna: YA PNR is so incredibly hot that they'll twist anything like Gumby to fit it into that mold. It's annoying. The gore was one of my favorite things about ANNA too, Nicole. You don't see too many YA authors going THERE so I rejoice when they do. I'm going to go take my meds now.
Nicole: No, gore is GREAT. In the same way that YA authors tend to tiptoe around sex, they tiptoe around gore. There's WAR! Terrible things HAPPEN in FIGHTS and STUFF! It's OKAY to say that somebody got ripped apart.
Sya: I am LOVING Anna Dressed in Blood. I have many THOUGHTS. I have yet to formulate them but think it's all pretty awesome. Although occasionally a bit flawed.
Sya: It annoyed me throughout that the cover and cover quote leans towards attracting girls rather than boys. Having finished the book I'd definitely recommend this for both but am pretty sure that the use of the word Romantic would put off several teenage boys that I know.
Nicole: The cover was great because it captured the book perfectly, but the Cassandra quote was all wrong. "Bloody and brilliant" would have been a much better cover quote.
Melissa: I'm halfway through (loving it), and I think the cover is both right and wrong. Right because it has a ghostly quality about it. Wrong because guys aren't going to pick up a book with a girl in a dress on the cover, and this book (so far) screams GUY to me. And the Cassie Clare quote is WRONG. (Oh, and I just looked up. What Sya said.)
Nicole: I think books are genderless but ANNA would appeal to both stereotypical genders.
Melissa: Point conceded, Nicole.
Sandy: So I am finally reading it and got up to the point where someone got ripped to shreds. I love how this book reminds me so much of Supernatural
Donna: Sandy, that was my first impression too. Between Cas and his mom being nomads to their ghost-slaying tendencies and searching for a greater evil, it's al totally Supernatural without Sam and Dean. And for that it can never be Supernatural.
Sya: I have never watched Supernatural.. Never. Should I?
Nicole: My roommate is obsessed, but I'm not a big fan. (Don't give me that look, Donna.)
Sya: They're hot, right? I mean not Richard hot, but ok...
Donna: Say, yes. Yes you should. Immediately. Is there a Netflix over there? Because it has all the seasons. They kind of start to shit the bed season 6 and on because Eric Kripke was like peace, I'm going here to work on this really shitty show called Revolution that makes no fucking sense ever in the face of the earth and Sam and Dean were left going O_O. The story got weird and nominally pointless from there on out but it has its moments still. It's REALLY self-depricating and I love it all the more for it. The Trickster is probably the awesomest, and Castiel. Crowley is pretty awesome but he's actually being a demon now so it's kind of weird. Ruby 1 and 2 were both pretty cool, Meg 1 was far better than Meg 2 and Anna pretty much pwns them all but she's in it for like two episodes. Seriously, watch the show. Nicole . . .O_o
Donna: Shit, there are a bunch of Dean photos but they're either him making weird faces or super punchy lips sexy faces (which they make fun of).
Nicole: You're watching Revolution? It's okay. Not great. And I just can't get into Supernatural; I've tried.
And I understand why you got the Tangent award along with me, Donna. We're terrible.
Donna: Finally, a relatively normal one of them both . . .
Donna: Nicole, yes. Yes we are. Revolution keeps me interested with a single thread of 'what if' but there are so many goddamn plotholes I want to murder it. But it's produced by Kripke, Jon Favreau and JJ Abrams. Revolution is their FAS Brain Baby. They were like fuck it all. We did ALL THE WORK on those other shows. Lets just throw some shit together and see if it sticks. Castiel was what really hooked me into Supernatural. I like him.
Nicole: That's what Julia keeps telling me - if I watch Supernatural to skip to Cas. But eh. I just don't have the time or effort for it. I'm liking Revolution, but for the same reason - 'what if.' The characters and stuff I'm not too attached to yet.
Donna: I'm hoping one of those newly working helicopters falls on Charlie.
Sandy: Aside from having hot guys (who can act!), Supernatural is pretty awesome. I'm not caught up to its current season (school got in the way...as it always does) but I got up to the point where angels showed up. The plot is great and while it can be scary, it's funny like Donna said. It has all the right elements
Donna: Woohoo! Sandy's on Team Impala! I think there's a t-shirt for that.
Melissa: Tangent people... WE'VE GOT A BOOK TO DISCUSS. *taking role very seriously*
Melissa: I watched one episode of Supernatural and it scared the crap outta me, and that was the end of Supernatural for me. I don't usually do scary, which is why it surprised me how much I liked ANNA. I think the thing that surprised me the most is that the gore and the witchcraft and the ghosts all worked together toward a pretty good end. (Though, I also recognized that if it were a movie, I wouldn't have watched it.) I was pretty worried when they got Anna and there was still 100 pages left, but she worked those last pages pretty well.
Donna: Which is why, Melissa, you should now try watching Supernatural. Anna's Cas, Sam and Dean all blend really well. See? I'M KEEPING IT RELEVANT.
Donna: So . . . endings?
Donna: Relevant . . .
Nicole: My sister and her friends liked it, but they brought up a good point: is Anna a solid spectral or is Cas making out with condensed air?
Donna: I would think one would have to be pretty solid to disembowel a living person.
Melissa: Even so, is making out with a ghost kind of creepy, or is it just me?
Donna: Yeah, she's a dead chick. That's proper necrophilia.
Sya: Yeah, ghost kissing is weird. Like, really. I have to say that I never really bought their relationship - it was the weakest part of the book. Had they bonded and formed a close un-romantic relationship I think I would actually have felt more invested in it as it would just make more sense. I totally got Cas's fascination with Anna, and his pity towards her and I understood that she found him equally interesting but felt that by going the (rather predictable) kissy-kissy route underminded the carefully written initial bond.
Melissa: Maybe that was the "romance" that Cassie Clare was talking about? I agreed: the whole romance thing fell flat. Everything else was awesome, though.
Sya: Probably. If romance had to be included I'd have rather seen him with Carmel (whom I really liked a lot) while maintaining a bizarre link to/friendship with Anna. None of this changed the fact that I really enjoyed the book - although I don't find myself chomping at the bit to get to book two, possibly because I've heard it's a bit...meh.
Steph: Yea I was pretty disappointed fo find out there was a follow-up - what the hell is the YA fear of stand-alone books all about?!
Sya: This could have worked really well on its own. Or even as a series of ghost-hunting adventures, rather than an ongoing story. The more I read trilogies (of which some are excellent, admittedly) the more I think that often they are a way of getting around editing/having the balls to finish a story. I think to write a standalone book takes skill and that series can SOMETIMES be facades for poor writing/plotting/pacing.
Melissa: I liked the idea of Carmel and the nerdy kid whose name escapes me getting together, though.
Melissa: Nicole, didn't you read the sequel?
Sya: Was it Thomas - and yes, I'd forgotten about that. I really liked it too but it felt a little forced. Like the author was determined to subvert stereotypes (which they had already managed for more subtly earlier in the book).
Melissa: And I agree, Sya, that many times this whole trilogy/series thing is just about poor plotting and pacing and not so much about needing to tell a whole story. That's why, when there's good series -- like Laini's or Kristin Cashore's -- it's so incredibly refreshing. We should start a thread about all the series we started then bailed on. Because there are MANY. (I have high hopes for Maureen Johnson's next, though.)
Melissa: Ah, I didn't get the forced thing. I thought it was cute that she'd go for the guy with the puppy dog eyes rather than the cold ghost killer.
Sya I have Maureen Johnson's next Shades of London one, but am not remotely inspired to read it. I liked the first one but it didn't blow me away. The initial plot (not the ghosty bit later) was so like a UK TV series that had been shown a year prior to publication (Whitechapel) that I found myself wondering if the author had also watched it.
Nicole: I haven't read the sequel yet - my sister currently has it in her grasp after I told her to read ANNA for the vicious murders - but she didn't dig the romance either; none of her friends did. And while I liked their relationship, I liked it in the same way I like watching Alice and Luther on LUTHER -- no romance but lots of potential and a hell of an interesting relationship. (I wouldn't have put him with Carmel, though; didn't get that one.)
And I really like the idea of series-we-bailed on list. I have many. MANY.
Donna: I've read Girl of Nightmares and I just had to re-read my review to jolt my memory into remembering what I thought of it. Apparently I loved it. Then again I am exceedingly desperate for YA horror so that's more than likely coloring my view on the book as well. I do point out Cas's grossness with Anna and I had a problem with his mom, because she kind of sucks.
General conclusion seemed to be that everybody liked it and recommended it, for the most part.
Nicole's review at WORD for Teens
Sya's review at The Mountains of Instead
Melissa's review at the Book Nut
Laura's review on Life After Jane
Donna on Goodreads