Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake


title:  Anna Dressed in Blood

author:  Kendare Blake

pages: 320

format: Hardcover 

isbn/asin: 0765328658

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 4/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of Jeannine Garsee (The Unquiet), the TV show Supernatural, old fashioned ghost stories, and light romance.  

My Ratings Explained

Cas Lowood, armed with his late father's athame knife, kills ghosts. In Thunder Bay, Anna, forever 16, drips blood on her white dress from throat slit in 1958, and rips apart anyone who enters her house - except Cas. He makes new friends - high school queen Carmel, jock Will, admiring nerd Thomas and Tom's voodoo grandpa Morfran - to fight this demon.

the basics
I was fantastically excited about this book.  It didn't quite meet my exuberant expectations, but it delivered plenty.  The story is a fun, Supernatural -style ghost hunt.  Boy's father hunted ghosts.  Boy's father is killed by ghost.  Boy takes up the mantle and hunts ghosts.  You start right in the action, and Blake doesn't waste any time getting you into Cas' world--or the Anna plot.  Cas wants to kill Anna.  Then it gets more complicated, in ways that I didn't expect.  Cas can be an annoying, self-absorbed I-go-alone guy, but what was fun for me was seeing him change and grow.  There's a romance that isn't insta, friendships that felt genuine and relatable, and Cas' mom gets involved too, which is a far cry from the I-must-leave-all-loved-ones plots I'm used to.  The coolest part is Blake's ghost and demon mythology.  You get voodoo, Wicca, and a sort of dark blood magic that combine for some neat baddies.  Not a perfect book, but very enjoyable.  I will be reading the sequel.  

plot . 5/5
The plot starts you right in the action with a ghost and doesn't let up.  Even when there's not a lot of ghost hunting, everything is moving forward.  Either something is happening with Cas' investigation into Anna or his relationships are developing in important ways.  Blake doesn't show mercy, either.  Plenty of blood is spilt.  It makes it realistic, rather than the dumbed-down horror stories where people miraculously escape because the hero never screws up.  Cas screws up plenty, and it adds to his character.  The ending was also great for a first novel in a series.  Satisfying on its own, but also promising more.  

concept . 4/5
Ghost hunters: not super original.  Yeah, we know that.  Blake takes it a step farther with the magical element.  She adds in voodoo and Wicca to add color and depth to her supernatural world.  I really enjoyed reading about the rituals and some of the demon creatures.  There's also a mystery.  Your typical find-out-how-the-ghost-was-killed mystery--but it becomes much less typical when you find out how.  I won't spoil it, but it was a great surprise and I thought it turned a typical plot into something more unique.  

characters . 4/5
Cas was a hard sell for me.  He was just so arrogant, a trait that hits me the wrong way.  However, he wasn't a badly written character.  You can dislike a character but still find them realistic.  That's the way I felt about Cas.  As the story progressed, my feelings for him changed as I saw him change.  What Blake did well with the other characters was give them roles that weren't flimsy or merely supporting, and twist some expectations.  Carmel was not the prissy cheerleader I was fearing.  Thomas was deeper than your average nerd.  Cas' mom was Wiccan, not only an underrepresented role but also one that enriched her personality.  It clearly wasn't thrown in just to make her interesting.  

style . 4/5
There's nothing particularly beautiful or special about the style.  It was polished, succinct, and clear.  It's told in Cas' voice, which means that you get a lot of teenage-boy speak.  I thought it was done well, but I don't have much to gush over either.  

mechanics . 5/5
Everything was well polished.  You don't get a lot of extra passages or unnecessary language.   

take home message
A fun ghost hunt with extra layers of magic, romance, and strong friendships.  

Note: I purchased this copy.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


  1. Hmmm this is like the third review I read relating this book with SUPERNATURAL. That surely is a good point since I'm a big fan of the show. I have the kindle version waiting on TBR, after I finish "Spirit Bound"

    1. It's the first thing that came to mind when I read it. Definitely give it a try!

    2. Finally read this one, and I loved it so much!! <3 the Male POV is refreshing and I liked a lot the friendship between Cas/Thomas/Carmel!! Other good point is the spooky parts with twist (read it in the night for better results XD), now I get the SUPERNATURAL reference.

  2. I really really enjoyed this two series! Glad you enjoyed :) I agree though Cas was a bit of a hard sell.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

    1. I'm definitely excited to read the next one! Cas has grown on me.