"Anna Dressed in Blood" is a wistful tale of teenaged romance.
Except that the girl, Anna, is the ghost of a girl murdered decades before. And Cas, her would-be boyfriend, has taken over his family business: he kills ghosts.Romance isn't really the central theme of "Anna Dressed in Blood"--Anna and Cas don't really have much time for making-out, since there's a really evil Obeahman who wants to kill them both.
Sorry. I got ahead of myself.
When "Anna Dressed in Blood" begins, Cas and his mother--who works in white magic--have just moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Anna is sort of an urban legend: the community knows how she was brutally killed on her prom night, and many believe she still walks the earth, killing people. Cas and his mother are in Thunder Bay for that very reason: so that Cas can use his special skills to "kill" Anna's violent ghost, and send her on to the great Wherever. That's Cas's mission. He'll receive a tip about an especially troublesome haint somewhere, then he and his mom will pack up and move there. Cas will go to school, and slyly glean information as to where the ghost in question resides, then he'll go and dispatch the troublesome spirit. It's not malicious. It's just what he does.
With Anna, Cas senses something different. She appears as a terrifying, dark goddess, who rips a football player in half as Cas watches, but there's also a scared teenaged girl inside the dark goddess.
Against his better judgment--and against everyone else's advice--Cas goes back to the house, and befriends the scared teenaged girl Anna. What power causes her to turn into the murderous dark goddess? Cas and his friends work up a plan to find out. Once they think they've released Anna, three grizzly murders take place. Could Anna be up to her old tricks? Or is it something more powerfully evil than Cas can even imagine?
I loved this book. It took me a few chapters to get into it initially, but then I stayed up all night reading it. Cas is an awesome choice for narrator: he knows his life is quite odd, but he's okay with it. On his first day of school, he ignores everybody else in the hallways until he finds "the queen of the high school." She, Cas reasons, will know everything about everyone, and he will make friends with her. Carmel is her name, and she does indeed hook Cas up with the information he needs. She also proves to be an invaluable, loyal ally.
There are so many things to love about "Anna Dressed in Blood," that I'd drift into spoilerland if I wrote much more. I truly enjoyed this book. It was funny in parts, sad in parts, scary in others.
Kendare Blake has created a wonderful group of characters, and I'm so glad there's a sequel.
I bought it for my Kindle as soon as I finished the last page of "Anna Dressed in Blood." I'm looking forward to another sleepless night with Cas, Anna, Carmel, and friends when I get home from work tonight.
Very much recommended.