Halloween 2013 Reads: Anna Dressed In Blood

7:54 pm

Book's name: Anna Dressed In Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Price: INR 500
Genre: Horror, Young Adult

As mentioned in my previous post, I was craving to read something to do with horror this Halloween. To get the "feel" I guess. Either ways. And I really wanted to read Anna Dressed In Blood because I've heard excellent things about this book. One of my friends was kind enough of to gift me a copy and Flipkart was kind enough to deliver me the book on the 31st of October itself.

As you can see in the picture, the cover art of this book is amazing. Whoever worked on the cover has clearly done a great job of it. Horror is invoked just by looking at the book, looking at a pale, thin girl, dressed in white and blood but even then we know that she can be terrifying and that house she looks at holds a world of pain. As one opens the book, things get better because the entire book is written in reddish ink. Wow! What a great concept for a book that has the word "blood" in the title.

The story is told from the point of view of Theseus Cassio Lowood, popularly known as Cas, is a sevteen year old who "kills" ghosts. Okay, this may need some explaining. Cas's father was a professional ghost killer until he was killed one of the ghosts he had meant to kill. Cas, a small boy at the time, decided to carry on this family legacy and so he took up his father's ghost-slaying athame and carried on killing harmful ghosts with it. His mother is a Wiccan and together with her and their cat, they form a small family who move across the globe killing ghosts. I had a feeling that Cas's story had in store an element of melancholy towards the end because, well, he is known by his second name Cassio, named for Shakespeare's tragic side character (Othello).

One day Cas is called to Thunder Bay, Ontario to kill a particularly scary and murderous ghost who has been killing people for about fifty years. Her name was Anna Korlov when she was alive but in the death she is known to the poeple of Thunder Bay as Anna Dressed In Blood. Her story was a tragic murder where on her way to a school dance, the then 16-year-old Anna was murdered by having her throat slit back in 1958. By the time the police found her body, the blood loss was so much that her white dress was soaked in blood so much that it was more red than it was white. Hence, the "dressed in blood".  Then on, her ghost has haunted her Victorian house, killing anyone who enters her house. Until Cas comes along. For some reason, Anna does not kill Cas and then unfolds this amazing story.

I loved this book. There are very few books in the horror genre that do their job as well as Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood has done. Both the plot and the characters are very engaging I truly enjoyed the rhythm. I have to admit that when I read the blurb and it said, "Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...", I had a doubt that this might turn out to be like another Twilight Saga. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong. It is nothing like Twilight. Yes, Anna Dressed In Blood does have a romantic sub-plot, but that's all it is: a sub-plot. The main focus of the novel clearly remains horror and a readers will see a lot of gore.

While Cas as a character, and more particularly as the hero, takes a while to warm up to (he was really annoying in the beginning), I really really loved Anna as a character. The thing that Blake manages to with all her characters, especially Anna, is to give them all these layers that are peeled off at the right time. Anna's back-story is heart-wrenching and oh, the author has actually made me pity a murderous ghost.

Rooted in ghosts, horror, black magic and what not, the book has some truly scary moments. I even dreamed about Anna when I was sleeping right after finishing this book!

My rating for Anna Dressed In Blood: 8/10

I honestly would happily recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a bit of gore and horror. Blake has done a really nice job and the sense of foreboding is strong in this book, it's not hard to forget that the setting isn't Victorian England but present day Canada. I definitely want to read Girl of Nightmares as soon as possible.

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