Review and Give-Away: Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Posted 29 September, 2011 by Danny in Bookworms, Giveaways, Uncategorized / 23 Comments

Anna Dressed In Blood
by Kendare Blake

Published: August 30, 2011
Links: IndieBound
(support an independent bookseller near YOU!)
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
(available as Kindle/Nook editions)
ARC provided by publisher for a fair and honest review

Synopsis from Goodreads

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. 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: 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.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.

Review

Hello, dear reader!!! We’re so excited to be here as a group because we all loved this amazing book, Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake! We each got the chance to enjoy reading this and we’re going to break it down, Bookworm style for you right now!

Pushy: Whoa. I absolutely LOVED this book. And it’s so different from the style of what I’ve been reading lately that I’m kind of at a loss to say, coherently, what it is that I so adored. But we’re going to give it a shot, while keeping it non-spoiler for those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

Ladies, what are your initial thoughts?

cutie: In an effort to keep things honest ‘round ‘ere, I must admit that I did not love this book. Having said that, I did like it very much. As we move forward I promise to share what held me back from adoring this novel. Negative blah blah blah aside, Anna Dressed in Blood is one of the most original books I’ve read this year and the creepy factor is a lovely little bonus.

Heather: This book right here is the best YA book that I’ve read this year. It had everything that I love in a book, but I’ll get into that below. I loved this one so much that I preordered the hardcover as soon as I finished the ARC. I just had to own this and I plan of reading it again.

Kristen: It took me a little bit of time to get into it, but when I did (and was ok with not hiding under the covers because this was a BIT scary for me) I really liked it! I sorta jumped in without even knowing it was about, so the whole story line was a surprise for me. I enjoyed the heck outta it!

Danny: Oh I loved it very very much! Although I admit that I was slightly skeptical at first, ghost storied don#t belong to my favorite genres. But “Anna Dressed In Blood” was special! First and foremost because it was a boy telling the story and not a girl! Big Plus for having a male voice here!

Pushy: So whether you loved it off the bat or it took a bit to get into it, we’ve all definitely enjoyed the book and all of us were enthralled by the creep factor of the book. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the characters.

I’m going to start it off with Cas. I loved Cas. This guy is SUCH a bad-ass! I want to BE him! He’s funny and driven and talented and a damn fine person! I love how, despite his desperate need for aloofness, he finds friends, true friends, in Thunder Bay. I love how after being emotionally cut off for at least half of his life, he’s stubbornly dragged back to humanity by the people who come to his aid.

I ADORE the secondary characters in this book. Thomas and Caramel and Will and Morfran! These are some seriously well developed characters. I love their quirks. I love their flaws. I love their fullness. Very well written characters.

And then there’s Anna…..

This is one seriously impressive chick. Talk about bringing the big bad!! This girl is a ghost with some ISSUES and still she’s entirely sympathetic. You may not like what Anna does but you understand the powerful emotions and motives behind it.

cutie: Oh Pushy… why am I always the doom and gloom? Okay, so I didn’t like Cas. He had his moments, but overall, I thought he was a jerk. There, I said it. And this was what held me back the most from connecting with the story. I got tired of the (literally) “too cool for school” outcast with daddy issues and an ax (or crazy dagger) to grind (or salt). Plus, the secondary characters were a little flat in my very very humble opinion.

And then there was Anna. Who I just LOVED! For realz, the whole time I was dying to get more information on her– what she was thinking, what she was up to, and on and on and on!! I just wanted more pages of her story and less of Cas. I do agree, he did grow a bit during the story, which helped making him more approachable as a character, but I had to force myself to read the first hundred pages. I just didn’t like him…. You know who I do like (love in fact)? PUSHY!!

Pushy: *blushes* Ditto, my friend….BIG FREAKING DITTO!!!

Heather: *Sigh* I have a soft spot for Cas, but I love driven, funny, slightly snarky bad ass characters who know what needs to be done. He’s very comfortable kicking ghost ass and taking names while keeping the necessary distance from everyone around him, the only exception being his mother. But you can understand why he doesn’t want to get close to anyone–why put anyone you care for in harm’s way when you’ll just be moving on in a few months, and would they believe you if they found out that you kill ghosts?

The secondary characters were mostly well developed. I did like that Kendare Blake wasn’t afraid to kill the ones that needed killin’ the most. But it’s the main secondary characters, like popular girl Carmel and loner Thomas , that wind up bringing Cas out of his shell and breaking his no attachments rule.

Anna, Anna. She is the baddest of the bad–and the first ghost to show Cas some mercy and not try to kill him even as he’s trying to slicer her up. But why would she spare him as she disembowels the douchey guy next to him? To find out why, you’ll have to read the book. But the way her story plays out and you see how a girl becomes a ghost who doles out such a large number of deaths to people who step inside of her house is quite riveting and unexpected.

Kristen: First off, I love how we can all have differing opinions on things and we still have the Bookworms love! I enjoyed all the characters – especially the secondary ones. Can I just say ditto to Heather and Pushy? I didn’t mind Cam’s arrogance, in a lot of ways he seemed more true to life to a teenage boys than some of the other books I’ve read with a male lead. Plus, based on the gruesome stuff he was involved with, and the feeling of carrying that weight of his job on his shoulders, I’m kinda surprised he wasn’t more of a sulky jerk.


Danny: CAS!!! He’s freaking awesome! I mean common – he’s the bad ass, brooding guy whose at the same time funny and .. awesome. (did I said this already?!) I loved him being all bad ass but at the same time he needed someone – he needed friends and he needed some love, although he probably wouldn’t admit this, right? 


Anna!? Oh my! She was a hell of a ghost and some of the scenes with her specially in the beginning were downright scary! But, I loved following her development from the haunting ghost to the lonely ghost. Anna was awesome too – period!

Pushy: So we’re agreed…Anna rocks the house (literally) and Cas is too cool for school (make of that what you will). But beyond the characters themselves, let’s talk about the tone of this book. I love the humor of this book, no easy feat in a horror novel. Kendare not only writes beautifully but with a wry smile most of the time and I just ate it up. I could read this woman’s grocery list and be happy! It’s seriously that good!

cutie: I completely agree. Ms. Blake has a fantastic writing style. It’s snarky. It’s fast paced. It’s gruesome and yet light and cheery. Her pacing is a bit slow, but holds up. And while after a while I did get a tad bit tired of the old school pop culture references, over all I found the book to be a fun read. (FYI: Do teens today even watch Old Yeller? And if so, why are parents still torturing their children with that movie?!)

Last but not least, the originality of this series was good times. I would most assuredly be down with reading a sequel and revisiting the world Ms. Blake created.

Kristen: Cutie! I thought the same thing about the Old Yeller thing! Ha! Once I got into the meat of this book, I really enjoyed it and the sorta quick and jerky writing style flowed along and I gobbled it up. If you don’t mind me regurgitating a part of the book that I had to earmark with a piece of Kleenex. Carmel was talking to Cas about her old friends getting mad at her because she wasn’t hanging out with them anymore:

“…everything I want to talk about I can’t say to them. It feels so separate, like I’ve touched something that’s taken the color out of me. Or maybe I’m in color now and they’re black and white.” She turns to me. “We’re in on the secret, aren’t we, Cas? And it’s taking us out of the world.”

“That’s the way it works,” I say softly.

Oh that part just killed me! And doesn’t it sum up some of those out-of-this world experiences in great YA books (oh heck, in all good storytelling, not just YA). The characters are pulled out of their hum-drum life and thrown into extraordinary circumstances. I really love reading how they cope and change with it.

Heather: I loved that this was not your typical ghost story, and Cas could actually kill ghosts with a knife. Having that danger aspect and added physicality to the actual act of hunting and killing the ghosts kicked this book up several notches in my opinion. The book was definitely well balanced with a mixture of dark humor, terrifying horror elements, and humorous aspects.

Danny: Once I started, I couldn’t put it down, it was the story line that was equally captivating and mesmerizing. I loved reading a guys POV since it’s not so common. Plus, although I’m easily scared I loved the creepy and scary touch of the book! Simply awesome (yes there I used the word again…lol)

Bottom Line


Pushy: Bottom line, reader, this story will capture you and make you never want to put this book down.

A BIG five stars from me!

cutie: In summation, if you are into creepy ghost stories and love a good snarky tale from a male perspective, this book is for you.

This bad boy gets a 3 ½ stars from me. The half is all for Anna and her ability to pull off a blood soaked dress.

Kristen: I really enjoyed this book and am excited to see what happens next. I give it 4 Stars!

Heather: Five plus stars from me. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel to this one.


Danny: Most definitely 5 stars from me!!

Pushy: Averaging that out, as a group we give Anna Dressed In Blood



Final Notes

Some of us loved this book more than others, but all of us agree that Anna rocks and so does Kendare Blake for writing such an amazing story. AND…. WE WANT MORE!!!!

And there’s good news: there WILL be more! That’s right, Kendare is currently in edits on the sequel to Anna Dressed In Blood: Girl of Nightmares.

AND…. some of you may know…. there’s a tour of Anna Dressed In Blood going on right now, run by Kismet Book Touring. If you’ve enjoyed this book as much as we have (or would like to), check out the tour and the contest and enter to win a Kindle skinned in the Anna Dressed In Blood cover art, loaded with Anna Dressed In Blood!

Give Away

Oh you didn’t think you were going to get away without a give-away, did you?????

Leave a comment telling us what you love more, good guys (be they snarky as hell) like Cas, or bad guys (may they have SERIOUS mitigating circumstances) like Anna most and WHY and be entered to win a eCopy of Anna Dressed In Blood! OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!!! Contest open 24 hours, so enter now!!!!!!!!!!

Now go and get lost…in a book!

Obsessive Reader by Night – Scientist at Day!
You can also find me on goodreads. I’d love to get to know you so, don’t be shy and say Hello!

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23 Responses to “Review and Give-Away: Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake”

  1. Haha, great review ladies! I loved seeing all the things you liked and disliked and comparing it. I have to say that I agree with most of the things you said, which means basically everything except the part about not liking Cas, because I loved both him and Anna! And every time it wasn't about Anna, I wanted it to be again. Lol. I also think Kendare is a wonderful author and the way she mixed horror with lighter humor is very impressing. I just loved every moment of it and could barley put it down! 🙂

    My recent post Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

  2. I'm more of a "good guys" person. Not because I like to see things in black-and-white, but because a fair amount of the time, bad guys are written as people who I just want to smack upside the head until they get over themselves. I've read too many bad guys who are who they are because the author needed an antagonist, without putting much thought into why or how they'd be that way.

    Thankfully, that isn't the case in all situations, and when bad guys are done well, they're done WELL! And I love to read about them. But most often, I'm rooting for the good guys. Bonus points if they're good and snarky!
    My recent post Don't you hate it when?

  3. LOL your review made me laugh! I LOVE that you wrote it out like a conversation-type thing because it was so much fun to read! x)

    To be honest, I'm more of a "good guy" sort of person for the main character, but that doesn't mean I don't like the super-awesome, layered, and cool bad guys! And I actually tend to fall for the bad boy characters more often than the sweet ones in a book love triangle… LOL!

    Awesome review, you guys! 🙂 I can't wait to read Anna — I've heard so many awesome things, and your review just makes me want to pick it up more!

  4. I love good guys definitely! I love someone you can count on and always there for you..you know? So even while reading books I will root for the boring good guy who always turn out to be second fiddle to the handsome, brooding bad guy. Why oh why?

  5. bookzilla

    Definitely good guys. "Bad guys" may have a certain appeal, but I'd prefer to spend time with someone who ISN'T likely to kill me at some point. 🙂 You need both for a story, but I pretty much always like the good guy more (especially when there's lots of snark involved).

  6. Caitlin

    I'm for the "bad guys". There always misunderstood so they just play that part. But deep down they are the good guys who just needs someone to get them. The actual good guys almost always turn the opposite because they want something and don't get it or they are always around and you can't breathe. So yes I'm all for the bad guys definitely.____sthrnsweetie115@aol.com

  7. Michelle

    I love good guys and I love snarkiness! So it is an easy call for me! and I would love to read this book more than words can express!!

    thank you so much!

    chelle2006 @ aol.com

    -Michelle @ Book Briefs

  8. Ammy Belle

    Great reviews guys! I liked the frankness of them – thanks for sharing!

    As to whether I am Team Good Guys or Team Bad Guys … it ultimately depends. If it's pure evil vs. the good guys, I am Team Good Guys – but if it's a super bad ass kind of bad guy – like Damon from The Vampire Diaries, where he's more than good or bad, (complicated, I guess?) then I am Team Bad Guy – because Bad Guys have more fun! And they can be snarky, unhelpful but ever delightful complicated characters that are tempters and gate keepers both – so much room to grow as a character. So if I would have to pick a Team to be on – I would be "Team Complicated – A Smidgen of Good and a Whole Lotta Bad (ass)".

    lol.
    Thanks!

    Ammy Belle
    apereiraorama @ gmail . com http://lateintothenight.blogspot.com/

  9. Ash

    I have to say I'm Team Bad Guys…there is just something about them. They usually have such strong personalities full of attitude and are just plain yummy. And half the fun is finding out in the book what made them that way. Got to lot the mystery that comes along with bad guys! :]
    My recent post Review of Crescendo

  10. Krystal Larson

    I would say Bad Guys, there is a definite appeal, can't put my thumb on it. However, if push came to shove, I might be more likely to choose the Good Guys. I love the enigmatic quality to Bad Guys, but the sterling quality of Good Guys IS hard to beat. Thank you for the awesome giveaway, I have been dying to read this book! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  11. jwitt33

    I like the bad guys with mitigating circumstances but I have to say I LOVE the snarky good guys!! They are so much more fun than the regular goody-goody good guys, and they definitely keep the story interesting 🙂
    There are a couple of books out now that I would kill to read and this is one of them! Thanks for the chance to win a copy 😀
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  12. Aeicha

    Excellent review!
    There's just something about a well developed villain that makes me all giddy, so I'd have to say I'm Team Baddies. I've always had a fascination with the "bad guys". Blame it on Ol' Billy Shakespeare. In high school when all the other girls were swooning over Romeo or sympathizing with Othello, I was all "That Iago and Richard III are pretty badass right? *shifty eyes*". I mean c'mon, who's more fun to read about- the boring, predictable good guy or the charismatic, enrapturing bad guy or girl?

    Thanks for this giveaway!
    Aeicha
    wordspelunker at gmail dot com

  13. Denise Z

    I like a little bit of bad boy with mitigating circumstances who has a good heart 🙂 I so want to read Anna Dressed in Blood. Thank you for the awesome giveaway opportunity and I absolutely loved your review. I enjoyed all the points of view and that it was not just gushing or totally negative. 🙂

    dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

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