I am a self declared weenie. I’m scared of the dark, I avoid scary movies at all costs (if I’m being really honest – I can’t even watch previews for scary movies), I absolutely do not participate in Halloween, and I can’t read scary books unless the sun is high in the sky and I know for sure I’ll be spending the night with my boyfriend. That being said, I LOVE scary books. When I was younger I would stay up late reading Nancy Drew mysteries, I especially loved the ones that involved some sort of haunted castle or ghostly apparition. This was essentially torture, even after the mystery was solved I would still lie awake in bed, remaining as still as possible, sweating profusely but refusing to leave the safety of my blankets which the ghosts could not penetrate. Not much has changed. I picked up this book knowing it would terrify me but reading it anyway. It was scary, I couldn’t read it at night and even then I couldn’t sleep alone, it thrilled me as I knew it would but frankly, it wasn’t a very good book.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
To be fair it might be closer to 2 1/2 stars. Here’s why:
1. The main character, Theseus Cassio, or Cas for short, is a jerk.
He’s a ghost hunter following in the footsteps of his father who was killed when Cas was 8. Naturally Cas wants some revenge, he’s been killing the most deadly of ghosts across the country in preparation for the ghost that killed his dad. However, Cas is still in high school, so he forces his mom to move every other month in order to track down these deadly demons. In fact, he’s not very nice to his mom, or anyone else. He makes it very clear that he won’t allow anyone to get between him and his mission. Because of this he doesn’t really have friends… and he certainly doesn’t have girlfriends – which is unfortunate because, according to Cas, girls want him like fat kids want cake. “Girls… have always come easy. I don’t know why that is exactly. Maybe it’s the outsider vibe and a well-placed brooding look… or maybe I’m just damn easy on the eyes.” He’s arrogant and self-centered and a little mean. Overall not a very likeable character. But he has to be hard-headed to kill the ghosts, I get that, whatever.
Another teen book that drops the f-bomb twice within the first few chapters. I get that that’s how teens talk these days, but is it entirely appropriate to put in a teen book? Cas’s thoughts are vulgar and overall unpleasant (back to that “not a nice guy” issue) – at one point he calls a group of guys assholes because they nod at him instead of shake his hand. “They all nod at me like total assholes except for Will Rosenberg, who shakes my hand. He’s the only one who doesn’t seem like a complete douche.” Yeah, Cas doesn’t seem douchey at all. If I wanted to hear the uncensored musings of a teenage boy with an attitude problem I’d hang out with my little brother and his friends, a group of boys that spends most of their time sleeping outside, but even they have more manners than Cas.
3. Scary movie stupidity.
You know when you’re watching a scary movie and you’re like “don’t go in the house!” but they do it anyway, or when they narrowly escape with their lives but then they go back for some reason and you’re like “don’t go back in the house!” but then THEY DO IT AGAIN. That pretty much sums up Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas can’t resist when he hears about Anna. He wants to kill her. She was murdered in the late 50’s right before her first school dance, she was dressed in a simple white dress that was stained entirely red with her own blood, now she haunts her old house and kills anyone who enters. Naturally Cas, and a few of his new friends, decide to go inside. That should end well. *hint* it doesn’t. Of course then they decided to go back, and again, and again. Never ends well.
4. The story was a little bit ridiculous.
Albeit scary as hell. Anna is terrifying and she can do terrifying things. She is deadly white and covered in black spidery veins, her eyes are like drops of oil and her dress is still wet and dripping with blood. She hovers slightly above the ground and her jet-black hair whips around like she’s in the midst of a wind storm. She is freakishly strong and known for ripping apart her victims and doing gruesome things with their remains (all of which is described in detail). The house itself is equally as scary as it’s occupant. It’s black and foreboding and filled with an eerie grey light that seems to leak and ooze from it. Overall a place I would stay VERY VERY far away from. Luckily Anna is contained to the house… so naturally Cas goes inside it at every chance he gets, and only at night. The guy is fearless, but I guess you get that way when you’ve been hunting ghosts your entire life.
Anyway, Cas and Anna actually begin to form a friendship. He visits her every night and they talk about school and friends and family, then Anna shows him some horrible things she’s done and he comes back the next night to pick up where they left off. Cas is enthralled by her, the goddess of death, he finds her terrifying but terrifyingly beautiful. And then he falls for her. Wait… what?
The ending was weird and a little too far fetched, even for a ghost story. Anna’s relationship with Cas goes too far… I think the author forgets she’s a ghost by the last chapter. Aside from Cas’s overall surly attitude and the absolute lack of regard for safety, it wasn’t a bad story. Scary, disturbing, upsetting (everything a ghost story should be) but satisfying and somehow reminiscent of a “happily ever after”… if happily ever after means getting sucked into hell through the floorboards. I’m undecided as to whether or not I’ll read the sequel.