Release Date: Already out, buy a copy!
Publisher: Tor Teen
Add it: 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.Theseus Cassio Lowood's father was horribly murdered in a ghost hunt gone wrong. Cas inherited his father's special talent for killing the dead. Or rather, sending them away to... wherever it is they go once he slices them with his trusty athame. A special and powerful knife he father owned, passed on by generations of those in the same line of work. For years, Cas and his mother have travelled all over the country as he hunts the next murderous spirit brutally taking lives of the innocent. Which leads Cas to Thunder Bay. Home to a particularly violet teenage ghost locals refer to as Anna Dressed In Blood. Named so because she still wears the white dress she died in, dripping with blood.
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.
This isn't like any hunt though. Cas can feel something different about it. And upon his first meeting with terrible, awe-inspiring Anna who definitely knows how to make a scary first impression... she spares his life. Why? Why does this girl who can tear apart a man like a piece of tissue paper, spare the life of the boy who plans to 'kill' her? When in her sixty years of death she has spared no other?
I loved Cas' narration. He has this confident, easy way about him with a touch of smartass and a crap load of badass. When there's something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Cas Lowood! Ha, I can already imagine him stroking the athame and pondering how best to slice and dice me for that one. Sorry, Cas. He's really layered and feels so genuine, so realistic in both the way he carries himself in public and what goes on in his head. Given the nature of his life, he distances himself from people, doesn't ever try to form friendships or get close to others because in a weeks time he'll likely be halfway across the country. But Thunder Bay has completely turned everything upside down. People are suddenly becoming tangled up in the scary, ghost-filled life he leads and for the first time ever, he's making friends (who are awesome, by the way). And then, of course, there's Anna.
Anna Korlav. Anna Dressed In Blood. Scary as hell. A manifestation of your deepest nightmares. Her oily black eyes and dress dripping red are the last things you'll ever see if you step a toe inside her house. As Cas fondly puts it, she's a goddess of death. She's his goddess of death. We are merely the poor pitiful mortals who gaze upon her in awe and fear while she sits upon a throne of blood and horror. But the longer you stare transfixed at the strikingly powerful figure she casts, you start to see the sad and beautiful girl hiding beneath and you wonder how she grew into such a twisted state. Kendare has painted a breathtaking portrait of Anna, strokes of angry red and black lashed across a soft white canvas that you still see peeking through, praying for hope, for redemption.
Kendare Blake is an incredible writer. Both in prose and storytelling; she carves this story with a deadly, yet tender hand. She's a master at writing horror, but it's not senseless horror. Oh, I'm sure she wants to you crap your pants five times over, but there is so much depth here. The tragedy of these ghosts and their deaths. Compassion and fear warring together. It's raw, she doesn't shy away from the graphic details, both physical and psychological. That, dear readers, is a damn talented writer.
This is not a book you want to read with the lights out and especially if your house is prone to sporadic creaking. There's humour and witchcraft and tragedy and violence, wrapped tight in a hauntingly addictive tale. Anna Dressed in Blood rips to shreds every ghost story you've ever read, then wears their blood stained pages in tribute. Or mockery. I went in hoping for a moderately creepy read, but what awaited me was a pulse-pounding story, equal parts spooky and tragic. One of the best books I've read this year!
5/5 Golden Apples