Anna Dressed in Blood
I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while and it didn’t disappoint. It has everything that I love in a good book: believable characters, a compelling story, and a twist that is entirely unexpected. I’ve found that if there isn’t a twist, if the author doesn’t employ some form of misdirection, it bores me. I don’t want to be able to see what’s coming and Blake’s story delivers.
Theseus Cassio is not your average seventeen year old. He is a ghost slayer. He travels the world hunting down ghosts, but not just any ghosts, he only kills the murderous ones. The ghosts who lurk along a highway or in their apartment that kill whoever comes along out of shear rage. Cas, as he prefers to be known, is on the trail of a new ghost: Anna Dressed in Blood. Only once he finds her, he discovers that Anna isn’t like any ghost he has ever met before.
Let’s start with the easiest bit, and by far my favorite: Anna. The imagery Blake uses to paint Anna is evocative. I could literally see this girl, black veins running just below her white skin, wearing the white dress she was killed in. But it’s not just the white dress she’s wearing; the dress is saturated in her own blood. It drips from the hem. And the way Blake describes her eyes, black pools of oil; it’s creepy stuff. Here’s the cool thing, though this book is definitely categorized as youth horror, it won’t give you bad dreams at all because though Blake paints this image of a ghost who is truly frightening, she also makes her complex. Anna is not just sentient, she’s heartrendingly human. (I can’t believe heartrendingly is actually a word.) (Moving on…)
I think part of the reason this book is so delightful is that Blake has a way of effortlessly breathing life into her characters. The sense of immediacy and everything else is there, but it’s really the characters that drive the plot. Cas has another nightmare so he goes to talk to Anna, you know, because she’d be up at 3 AM. Cas needs an introduction to Anna lore so he goes to a party that ultimately results in him lying unconscious in Anna’s house. It doesn’t ever feel like the plot is trudging along. It feels more like you get to watch these people make Very Important Decisions that will dictate what the next piece of the story will be. It felt like watching Buffy, but instead of a teenager who would prefer to have a normal life, this one 100% accepts his responsibility to the detriment of having a normal life. He just doesn’t want one.
In a way, it makes it more believable. This kid’s dad gets murdered and he inherits his dad’s incredible abilities to not only see the dead, but to remove them as a threat. What seventeen year old kid wouldn’t accept that mantle, especially if it comes with the added bonus of one day being able to exact revenge for the death of a parent?
This story is compelling in a way that a lot of stories are missing. It’s not just that you jump from one action sequence to the next. It’s that the characters are so believable that you immediately invest in them.
As a nerd, there are certain tenants that we all kind of believe in. That with great power comes great responsibility and regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in there’s always a choice you can make that’s for the Greater Good. This is basic nerd stuff. The reason this book is so easy to sink into is because all of nerd lore is there. Yes, things may go bump in the night (hell in this book they can go bump in the day), but there is always a force of good to balance the scales back. Blake even references Ghostbusters and Buffy in the book.
5 ink bottles. This book is a great read, no caffeine necessary. Your adrenaline will do that for you.