Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 2 / 5
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.
Yet she spares Cas's life.
-- As seen on Goodreads
Before I begin my review, I want to note that it’s going to be hard for me to be completely objective. Why? Well, when I think of the word ‘horror’, I automatically have some expectations. The main one? Feeling scared! When I saw the label “Not For Younger Readers” on the back cover, I’m pretty sure I had an evil grin plastered on my face, thinking this will be freaking awesome!
Cas is our main character and narrator, and he can see ghosts. Think of a male version of Buffy, but rather than being all-round snarkishly awesome, he’s an arrogant asshole, and ‘kills’ ghosts rather than vampires. He and his mum travel around North America following various tip offs about murderous spooks, allowing Cas to hunt them down and kill them once and for all. The book begins when they’re about to move to Ontario to hunt down the most murderous, heartless and bloody spook yet… Anna Dressed in Blood.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? So, Alma - why only 2 stars??
Ok, the positives. It’s a very readable book, and the writing style is excellent, with good characters.
But, here’s the thing: I love scary books. I love creepy books. I love paranormal books, and I LOVE ghost stories. Based on all these things, on the surface, Anna Dressed in Blood is like a bookish match made in heaven for me!
Well, I have a confession. I didn’t like it. Why? It wasn’t scary. At all!
For me, the atmosphere is one of the most important things a horror book has to achieve. A good horror story is all about the build-up to the scares. It’s that anticipation and tension that you can cut with a knife that makes a horror story terrifying. When all of this is lacking, there is very little to make me scared, or even mildly creeped out. My biggest fault with Anna Dressed in Blood was NO atmosphere. I didn’t feel any tension, no anticipation... nothing. It was just… flat.
I kept waiting to be scared. I think this was the main reason why I read the book quite quickly – I was actually looking to be scared, and I was convincing myself that surely the next chapter has to be where the terror begins. Then, before I knew it, the story ended without me being scared once. A lot of my feelings boil down to my expectations, too. I was expecting to be scared. I was expecting to be terrified, actually. Hell, I was in the mood for a really scary read, and I was hoping this would deliver. Unfortunately, I felt it was a complete let down on the horror front. It. Just. Wasn’t. Scary!
While I really enjoyed the writing style, and the secondary characters were quite entertaining, the lack of scares left me bitterly disappointed. I think my sum-up of the book is either a) Anna Dressed in Blood is not a horror story, or b) I’m a LOT braver than I give myself credit for. Truthfully, I’m voting on the former.