Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

9378297I had high hopes for Anna and all her creepiness. Really high hopes. Some of those expectations were met and others not so much. I hate that I only felt ‘meh’ about this book while so many others adored. I will say that compared to other similar YA novels, this one shines.

In Anna, we meet Cas who is a young, aspiring Dean Winchester. They are the exact same character. And since I loved the first few seasons of Supernatural, I was thrilled with Cas. I even enjoyed the heck out of his cockiness. Anyway, he’s a ghost hunter/slayer with a special knife meant for slaughtering the baddies. He gets wind of a particularly nasty spook dubbed ‘Anna Dressed in Blood’ and heads to Canada with his mom. All of the things go down. The end. Ha!

Now, Anna had the potential to be one bad ass murderous ghost. Our first time meeting her is awesome, gruesome, and exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately, Anna gets neutered far too quickly and that’s when all my problems started. Why did Blake decide to water down Anna so quickly? Such a shame.

(minor spoilers ahead!)

Most of the novel truly does read like a Supernatural episode. What works the most are Cas’s friends – his little circle he comes to know and love. They are fun and not at all the stereotypical group you’d expect from a traditional YA novel. I had some ‘Scooby Gang’ nostalgia going on big time. Even the romantic bits break most of  the normal YA tropes which is a breath of fresh air. Until you realize that Cas and Anna have feelings for one another. That bit lost me as well.

Two things disappointed me more than anything else. Why was everyone so okay with Cas doing what he does? He’s a freakin’ kid whose dad died killing ghosts. Why would his mother so mutely stand back and watch her son continue such violence, particularly at such a young age? Did not ring true to me at all. I know I’m just supposed to suspend belief, but I couldn’t.

Also, why wasn’t this book more frightening? I’m not sure that’s Blake’s fault at all. Maybe I’m just not moved by horror stories? Scary movies are nearly un-watchable, but I haven’t been horrified by a written ghost story in a seriously long time. I want to be scared silly!

I did love the book’s ending. I’m glad that Anna went down with the house – only seems fitting. Blake’s writing was also great, her pacing superb from page one, and she genuinely has some awesome plot moves. I’m mainly thinking of the flashback scene dealing with Anna’s past and how creatively she managed to pull that off. I think I’d have been more impressed if there had been more emotion involved. I wanted Cas’s mom to care more about her son’s well-being. I wanted the town to care more about all the deaths and disappearances – especially of the young kids. And I wanted that damn cat to survive!

Can’t win them all, I suppose. Anna is still a book I’d recommend to fans of YA horror and paranormal stories. There’s enough in Blake’s novel that feels fresh to entice those readers annoyed with so many cookie-cutter, predictable narratives running around in the world today. There’s also a fun amount of blood and gore for the true horror fans and a fascinating mythology.

I’ll gladly read the second Anna story in this duology. I am thankful that there’s only two novels. If Blake had decided to end after the first, I wouldn’t have been disappointed, but I’m interested to see where Anna ended up! Many other readers haven’t liked the second Anna as much which kind of gives me hope. I tend to like sequels when others don’t. Just one of my many weird quirks.

4 thoughts on “Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

  1. I liked your review on this one, and have thought about reading it, just haven’t bought it yet. I do think it’s strange that the mother doesn’t stop the son from doing what killed the father, and I don’t think that’s normal. Most moms would be a freaky wreck if they were in this situation, AGAIN. But there is enough here to entice, and since I haven’t seen Supernatural, it will all be fresh to me. Thanks for the excellent and fun review today.

  2. I finished this book recently (though I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it because I’m WAY behind on my reviews). I rather liked it, but didn’t think it was amazing. It was pretty much like reading a Supernatural episode, as you said, except that he’s so young. And the romance WAS a little silly and contrived, of course, but I guess I didn’t spend too much time worrying about the weaknesses…I was curious about where the story was going, mostly.

    • I pretty much had the same overall feelings as you. And the story was enjoyable enough, but once I started thinking about it post-finishing I couldn’t help but notice the flaws. I am looking forward to the second Anna novel though!

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