annaAnna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…

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.

Read this book right now! Seriously, stop reading this review and buy this book! RIGHT NOW! God, I loved this book. Cas reminds me of Ethan Wate, but I think I say that about every male narrator in YA. Ethan Wate is the best, but Cas Lowood is pretty amazing too. We start off with Cas killing a long-dead greaser who was beat up and killed for his money a few decades ago. We’re in Cas’s head the whole time, and what a head it is. He’s not whiny or annoying, and the first person POV didn’t make me want to murder everyone within eyeshot. Not a single person in this novel is Too Dumb to Live, other than all the people who are murdered, of course. Plus there’s a black cat, and anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE black cats (especially my boy, Yoshi).

Cas and his mother move around a lot, especially after his father is killed. They receive tips from Cas’s sources and move to the location to kill the ghost. Cas only kills ghosts that kill other people, not ghost who just harmlessly haunt. When they get to town, Cas immediately zeroes in on the popular girls, namely one Carmel Jones. He attends a party with her and her jock/cheerleader friends and gets them to tell him stories about local ghosts. This is when Cas first meets Anna.

Anna is terrifying and beautiful at once. She changes forms when she angry, and Cas calls her the Goddess of Death. She kills one guy that night, but not Cas, who she just tosses out the front door. Cas has also met Thomas, a psychic, at this point, and soon Cas, Carmel, and Thomas are working together to try to figure out how to kill Anna. While they’re doing this, Cas starts visiting Anna and grows more and more attached to her.

This story is truly original, I thought, and a really fast read. I don’t recommend reading this book alone at night, because I did that and it terrified me, even though I live in a house built after 1960. This book also lives up to its horror label, and there is talk of blood, guts, and missing eyeballs. It can be gross, but this is not about gore. The story that’s weaved underneath all the scary stuff is truly awesome and Blake fleshes out the three main characters while keeping Cas as the narrator. That is something that a lot of authors have trouble with, but Blake pulls it off perfectly.

Go out and get this one ASAP!