First off, I was really excited because Anna Dressed in Blood is narrated by a guy. The YA genre is heavily dominated by females, so this was a nice change. And I liked Cas as a protagonist. He was realistic, likabale, had an appropriately sardonic sense of humor, and was in general just a nice kid.
Blake’s cast of supporting characters was good, too. Cas had a couple of Harry Potter-style sidekicks who ended up dating, Cas’s mom was thankfully not an annoying dysfucntional YA parent, and everyone else was really interesting.
Now I was slightly disappointed in Anna herself, just because I was expecting some ferocious teen ghost or something, while in reality Anna was actually really sweet and shy and mopey. Of course, I can’t at all blame Blake for my misconception, and it really wasn’t a big deal in the long run.
I also really liked the world of ghost hunting that Kendare Blake created. The Wiccan and voodoo elements were really interesting for me, and I think the author explained them without sounding too info-dumpy. The spell the gang used in the middle of the book was pretty cool. I’m not well learned in magic or witchcraft, but it all seemed pretty realistic to me.
The big problem I had with Anna Dressed in Blood was the plot. If you take a knife and cut this book exactly down the middle, you will find two very different conflicts. The first half of the book is about Cas’s need to stop Anna from killing people/haunting her house. Halfway through, Blake almost entirely resolves that issue and then the book moves on to an issue having to do with Cas’s athame (ghost killing knife) and the person who killed his father.
In my opinion, it would have been better to split this book in half, flesh both sides out a bit more, and then present them as separate novels. There is nothing wrong with either of the two conflicts presented—they were well executed and not tediously boring, I just felt that having them both shoved together under one title isn’t the best plot construction choice.
Oh, and can I just briefly say that Malvina is the silliest bad guy name ever? Come on, it’s practically the same as Maleficent.
While not as creepy or gory as I was expecting, Anna Dressed in Blood is still a very good book. I enjoyed the storyline (even though it was bulky), and thought the characters and paranormal elements meshed together really well. Blake left things wide open for a sequel, and I’m definitely anticipating Girl of Nightmares. Bottom line: I recommend this to…well, anyone.