Friday, June 21, 2013

Series Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna Dressed in Blood
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Dates: August 2011 and 2012
Pages: 648
Format: Hardcover
Average Rating: 4.01, 4.0
Read it in: 1 day, 2 days
Source: Bought them from Amazon

- Summary -

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder 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. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, 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, but now stained red and dripping 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.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life

- Review -  

I am still unsure how exactly I want to go about reviewing more than one book at a time, so please bear with the inevitable craziness that is sure to follow.

Where to start? Well, first off, I thoroughly enjoyed this (mini) series. I am always a bit hesitant venturing into books that have received a lot of hype, particularly because it just depresses me when they do not live up to my expectations. I also rarely ever venture out of my reading "comfort zone," as it were, which mainly consists of contemporary and dystopian fiction, despite the fact that I am constantly drawn to the strange and creepy (contradiction, much?). These two books, however, were the perfect blend of paranormal, weird, humor, adventure and romance. Which, undoubtedly, is a lot to pack into two books, but Kendare Blake does it well.

1.) Plot;

The plot was suspenseful, engaging, interesting, and captured my attention immediately with it's Ghostbusters-esc storyline and use of humor, wit, and language—the latter of which was one of the things I liked best about these books. If you dislike constant profanity, then I would suggest not picking up this series—though you will be missing out, trust me—as Cas swears. A lot. But I felt like that added to his character and made me like him even more. He didn't hold back what he was thinking, and the way that Blake used his language, and all other aspects of language in this story, were endearing and smooth. 

The second book, while staying true to the original storyline (i.e. Cas, devoted to killing ghosts for a living, is putting everything on the line to save a murderous Anna) had a completely different atmosphere. Everything was more dire; more crucial and dark. There were new characters and completely different adventures, which I enjoyed, considering the number of books that seem to feed us the same scenarios over and over again throughout the series. The second book in the duo, Girl of Nightmares, was a tad slow in plot development—where basically nothing happened in the first 200 pages, and then everything hit the fan in the last hundred—and even though my reading became sluggish because of it, I really enjoyed the book as a whole. My only complaint is that it left behind several loose-ends, unanswered questions and open-ended.... endings. We never did figure out why Anna could not kill Cas or why their connection existed. The author explained it as a thing that just sort of happened, but I would have liked to see a bit more about their relationship. Speaking of; INSTA-LOVE, ARRRRRRG!! I am not a fan of "I have just met him/her and I LOVE him/her, because of reasons." No. Just, no. I would have much rather seen their relationship progress throughout book one, instead of happening immediately. But, alas.........

2.) Characters;

Let's start with Cas. As far as male literary characters go, I think I am in love. Just add him to the list with Ethan Wate, Will Herondale, Noah Shaw and Liam Stewart. I liked him right away—his voice, humor, independence (as well as his wanting to be able to depend on others), strength and fierceness. He could be funny and serious, and was completely reckless and unable to think things through before rushing in and almost dying. He was extremely loyal, and his determination to save Anna in book two and set things right helped make up for some of the Insta-Love! and was extremely inspiring. However, I would have liked to know Cas' ending, as opposed to the vague "My way is clear" that we received instead. Did he continue to hunt ghosts after Anna? Did he see Jestine again? Was the Order still loyal to his bloodline? SO MANY QUESTIONS. I just want to know if he was given his happy ending.

Despite being dead, Anna lived up to the local folklore. She was extremely strong and loyal, and though she is technically the "bad guy" in the beginning of book one, you still felt for her character. Her cause of death surprised me, particularly because I was so sure that her soon-to-be stepdad was the murderer—which is good, because I had no idea that the outcome would be something completely different. Regardless of her quick-forming relationship with Cas, I really liked how well they complimented each other and adored how much she cared for him and his life (especially because death for Cas meant that he and Anna could be together). Suffice to say, I was really, really hoping that they would get a happy ending. Speaking of endings, Anna's made me SO COMPLETELY EMOTIONAL. Around the middle of book two, I knew either one of two things could happen: either Cas was going to die and join Anna on the Other Side, or Anna would pass on and find peace once she was rescued. The ending should not have come as such a shock, but I still could not stop the flood of feelings that I experienced after finishing the book. I am glad that things wrapped up rather nicely, but I just.... really wish that they had gotten their happy ending together instead of separately. Especially after everything they had been through which is why I lean more toward contemporary reads. Happiness and fluff, yay. But, overall, I am glad we got the ending that we did (even though the "other Cas" confused me. Anna found peace with Cas, but it wasn't Cas. I don't know how I feel about that one yet. Thoughts?).

Thomas was awesome and I enjoyed his transformation from classic sidekick in book one to kick-ass voodoowitchthing in book two. He was extremely loyal and brave, and reminded me of Link from Beautiful Creatures. Jestine, on the other hand, was frustrating. I moved in and out of love and hate with her; particularly because of her loyalty and fondness of the Order. I liked Jestine's attitude and felt that she would have been a great match for Cas after he got over Anna, but not unless she eased up on the whole Chosen Warrior thing. Which is why I was so frustrated with the vague ending! Did she and Cas meet again? Did they get together? These details are important!

3.) Writing;

I thought that the writing was funny, smooth and captivating. The descriptions of people, places, and the myths surrounding them were outstanding. Blake has an excellent way of creating situations and characters that seem extremely real and easy to become attached to, and I particularly loved her description of the Afterlife and all of the factors she brought into it. I was sad to to leave that world behind, and definitely intend on rereading these books again.

- Rating - 


Both books received four stars.

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