Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review of Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

"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."
Trust me when I say that there was no judgement on the actual book itself when I first saw it. I just knew that I had to have it. It needed to be in my collection. It needed to be displayed where I could look at it. Before I could even dive into the pages this cover had me captivated, entranced, immobile and spellbound. Her name resounded in my head ... Anna, Anna, Anna .. Anna... Dressed in Blood. At that moment I knew I would follow her wherever it was that she would take me. That flowing black hair ... Her pale skin. It would be all I needed. She waited patiently on my shelf. She didn't worry about never being picked up. She knew I was circling around her like some shy boy at a school dance. A dance that while she was living she never made it to.

As you can tell, the scenery of this story is very close to me still. Having only turned the last of its pages just a few short hours ago, I am lost in my reverie of it, I wear it's memory on me like a shroud. I feel as Theseus Cassio must at the end. But that is the intention, isn't it? To put you in the characters place? Yes, that is the intention. and that is how you know that the words in this book are not just words, but a portal, a connection of life. Fiction to Non-fiction and back again. Over and over. I loved this book. I loved it from cover to cover.

The plot to Anna Dressed in blood is not really a new one, or is it? Hmmm. You know some of the best books you ever read are the ones when you are finished with you cannot place them on any one bookshelf. Well, it's a ghost story ... but it is more than just that. It's an urban fantasy ... but, it is more than just that too. It has dramatic, nail biting sequences that induce pretty gruesome (Isn't the English language great? Is it even legal to put totally opposite adjectives together and have it make sense? Someone help me out here.) images of the things that you are reading. But ... It is MORE than that. The description of the book is not wrong, but it is. I will example just the first line here and then you guys are on your own. "Cass Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He Kills the dead" Well, that is all fine, dandy and fo-fanna, candy. Me-my-mo mandy. But, Blake adds character to all that. With a character that not only kills the dead. He kills myths, he kills urban legend. Now that is something to get your boxers in a twist about... See that just doesn't sound as good as panties in a twist but I am a guy and it would be weird, ya know... yeah, you know.

Alright, I don't want to give away anything else to this novel. But I can praise the shit out of it without letting anything more out of the bag. I always come back to the characters and Anna Dressed in Blood has an array of great characters. Good, bad and yes of course ... Ugly. And they are all where they need to be in the story. The intricate details of each are cut and honed perfectly for the story. Not too much and never to little. Always the right amount to set the stage. The prose is spot on for this novel and to the observant ones among us, there are some great references to pop culture or more appropriately coined to my tastes, geek culture. The no fear pulse to attach characters to wiccan lifestyles. The mystic realms of voodoo. Man, you don't hear that one too often. A sentence or so ago I say "Not too much and never too little" But that slides a little when I think about Anna. I suspect she will have a bigger role in the novels to come. She plays the part of a ghost in this one not just in character but in context (and context is always important) as well. She is always just out of reach, somehow. I cannot wait to pick up Anna 2 Girl of Nightmares. Don't you dare read the description if you have not read this one!!! Damn, spoileriffic description givers away! I mean come on! They should have all flashy lights above it that says read this one first in it. So do it! READ THIS BOOK NOW! Thanks Kendare Blake for this fantastic story. And also thank-you Nekro. It was ultimately because of you that I picked this book up. I had never heard or seen of your work before. But it is awesome and you will not be forgotten.

I give Anna Dressed in Blood a whopping 5 out of 5 feverishly flashing filaments on my handy-dandy EVP Field Processor. 

This one is dedicated to Anna. Your red dress has stained my memory...

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