Monday, 26 March 2012

review: Anna Dressed in Blood

by Kendare Blake
Tor Teen, August 2011
young adult urban fantasy

Cas kills the dead. And ever since his father was murdered by a gruesome ghost, he's been on the move with his mother, following legends and folk lore to keep the dead where they belong. But in Thunder Bay, Ontario, he encounters Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost unlike any he's seen before... as his father's murderer finally catches up to him.
Sidenote: the cover copy didn't mention anything about Cas's father's murderer, so I made sure to insert a mention here. It's kind of important, yo.

The cover:

 Lots of grayness. The blurry wisps of blood are awesome contrast, but there's just too much grayness. (Kind of like this one.) I do like the geometric-ness around the author's name, and the flowing hair in keeping wih the blood flying around. But why is Anna outside of the house?

The book:

This one was interesting. And "interesting" is always a good thing, as it means that at least some part of the novel was wholly original.

Cas is a ghostbuster. Legit. And automatically built in with the role are loneliness, aloofness and a lack of friends. Kendare Blake takes these traits and runs with them, so that Cas's personality isn't anything atypical. Rather, it's the perspective we get that differentiates him: instead of the girl's POV as a new boy rolls into town, it's the boy's POV as he rolls into town.

Thomas wins the Most Clich├ęd Character Award. Seriously. A short, bullied, glasses-wearing boy who just happens to be equipped with witching powers and a knowledgeable grandfather? Please. On the other hand, Carmel is a surprisingly unstereotypical secondary female character, with genuine female wiliness yet also authentic interactions with Thomas. And Cas rounds out the trio for moments, albeit rare, of excellent banter and glimpses of true friendship. His connection with Anna is almost too immediate, but believable by the end, as well.

From the (publisher’s) summary, it didn’t seem like this book had enough plot, and I was just about right. The original plotline—Anna’s exorcism, and the issues that go along with it—peters out quickly enough, and Cas’s father’s murderer shows up almost abruptly, thanks to the foreshadowing clues that didn’t foreshadow that effectively. Nevertheless, we’re given an interesting, and somewhat hurried, look into voodoo, plenty of ghostbuster action and a bittersweet ending that leaves a door open for a sequel.

Rating: 3.7 out of 5