Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
(Tor Teen, 2011, 316 pages)
I don’t even remember what prompted me to pick this book up aside from being in the mood for a YA read but it certainly kept my attention. Cas is 17 and after the death of his father ten years earlier he is following in his footsteps and ridding the world of ghosts intent on doing harm. Because of the nature of his work, Cas and his mom move around often. They have to be wherever the harmful spirit is and they find out about these spirits through a small circle of people who know what it is that Cas does. This is the reason Cas and his mother move to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Cas has been contacted to rid the town of a spirit known as “Anna Dressed in Blood.”
As Cas familiarizes himself with the town and learns more about Anna he can’t explain why he feels so “connected” to her. There’s no question she’s a violent spirit, but when the two finally meet she resists any urge she might have to tear Cas limb from limb. Despite trying to maintain his lone wolf status Cas somehow finds himself with a few friends who want to help him in his quest. But there’s more to the story than just Anna. Cas’s father died a gruesome death and Cas has been “training” for the day he’ll confront the monster/spirit that killed him… but sometimes things don’t follow the path we’ve laid out.
This was a well-written and engaging read. Blake didn’t romanticize the paranormal in this book and the descriptions of what spirits do to people are definitely grisly. I think this is a good book for teens who are interested in dipping a toe in the horror genre. I also appreciated that the romantic element in the story didn’t overshadow the actual plot.