What's better for Halloween than a good old fashioned ghost story?
Because that's what we have on our hands with Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood. It's a creepy and suspenseful read, that draws you in and keeps you guessing. The story centres around Cass Lowood (not Anna as the title might suggest). He's not your average teenage boy - he's a ghost hunter. A career he inherited from his father. I loved the way Kendare wrote Cass. He voice was the perfect mixture of teenage boy and someone who is wise beyond their years. He's intelligent, but also sassy and brave, making him an incredibly interesting character to read about.
At the beginning of the novel, Cass is heading out on his next assignment. One that will take him all the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario. As a lifetime resident of Eastern Ontario (no where near Thunder Bay) I can count on one hand the number of people I know who have ventured all the way up to Thunder Bay. So needless to say the unusual setting immediately caught my attention. Though it didn't end up being that different from other settings, it was just remote enough to add an extra creepiness factor.
Speaking of the creepiness factor - Anna Dressed in Blood was a lot more intense and a lot more gory than I had expected. In my experience with YA supernatural the violence is often understated or done "off screen" but Kendare Blake doesn't shy away from the more difficult scenes. Her writing is very detailed and you can really picture the horrific events as they were unfolding.
The one thing that didn't sit quite right with me was the romance. It just felt really off and I had a hard time buying that it was actually happening. I think if you removed the romance the story still stands on it's own and depending on my mood, I may even say that it would be better without it. But I guess if I can accept Bram and Nora (a human-zombie couple from Dearly Departed) than I can accept Cass and Anna (a human-ghost couple). But I still think it's strange and a little creepy.
Notes of the Audio
Anna Dressed in Blood is told completely from Cass's perspective. Which means for the most part August Ross is reading as though he was Cass, and for that he does a fine job. He captures the attitude and intelligent nature perfectly and I was able to feel like I was really getting to know Cass. However, August Ross' female voices were cartoonish and kept pulling me right out of the story. They didn't feel realistic and they were completely over the top. Because of that I would recommend this book in print over audio.
Recommendation: An excellent ghost story with a fabulous set of characters. Perfect to curl up with on a windy autumn evening.
This and other reviews at Hooked on Books (http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com)