How many times did I see this at the library and think maybe I’ll get that next time? Too many! I really like Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series so I figured it’s about damn time I check this out, and what better time than spook season, otherwise known as October? Yes, I know I’m posting this in November, but I read it in October. Give me a break.
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
Yet she spares Cas’s life.
That first paragraph of the summary gets me. Lately I’ve been really into all things witchy, from binging The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Siempre Bruja on Netflix to reading books like The Wren Hunt and Winterwood, so the mention of witches in the summary was one reason I finally checked this book out. Also, spirit-sniffing cat? Hells yes, sign me up. Include local legends and lore? Yes, please!
The book itself isn’t as creepy as I thought it would be based off the summary, cover, and hype. There is definitely a lot of gore (which I don’t mind) but the ghostly parts weren’t that bad for me. They were definitely spooky and atmospheric but I don’t think I’ll be having any nightmares, and I have to say I’m okay with that.
That being said, I’m glad this wasn’t just some novelized version of a cheap horror movie. Kendare Blake took the time to really tease out each character’s personality and crafted a supernatural mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very last sentence.
Anna Dressed in Blood is more than a ghost story. It’s a story about a boy wanting to live up to his father’s legacy, a boy who loves his mother and will do everything he can to keep her safe. It’s about finding friends under the strangest of circumstances and learning to be brave in ways you never thought you could be. And yes, it’s about romance, because when do I read a book that doesn’t have even a little romance?
Parts of the beginning felt slow, but I was pretty thoroughly immersed in the story after a couple of chapters. I haven’t decided if I’m going to read book two or not; the cliffhanger is interesting but I kind of love the mystery and drama of it all. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that to be over yet!
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes ghost stories, occult lore, or Kendare Blake’s writing. I’m a big chicken when it comes to scary things and I could handle this just fine, so I wouldn’t let that hold you back from giving this book a shot. My indecision about reading book two has nothing to do with how I liked Anna Dressed in Blood beyond the fact that I loved the ending. This is the perfect book to add to your Fall tbr!
Have you read Anna Dressed in Blood and/or its sequel? Should I read Girl of Nightmares or stop after the first book?