Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter – it’s part of the family business – and he’s good a pretty good reputation for it. There’s one ghost that he’s determined to destroy: Anna Dressed In Blood, the ghost of a girl wronged the night of her prom, she haunts a house in the town that Cas’s mum has just relocated him too. Anna Dressed In Blood is a mild horror (with elements of comedy and romance) that probably contains a lot of the horror movie tropes those fans of the genre will recognise. Seeing as I don’t particularly enjoy horror myself, this was a… weird read.
• C H A R A C T E R S •
Oh my goodness, was this book littered with stock characters. First of all, Cas isn’t a particularly liable character. His full name is Thesseus Cassio Lockwood, and I don’t know what that’s supposed to tell us about his character, but it is what it is. There’s literally one line where he acknowledges how hot he is – which we all know is a pretty big indicator that someone’s…well, you know. He’s also the kind of guy that throws around the F-bomb as if we’re supposed to be impressed. He attempts to make witty satirical side comments about the high school system and the teenagers that attend, but I can’t say I found any of his comments amusing or even original.
Then there’s Carmel, the blond haired girl who has everything. It’s so cliche that she’s the most popular girl in school it physically pained me to read any interaction with her. Especially considering, the majority of the time she is reduced to her stereotype of a bimbo/ damsel in distress, who Cas is LITERALLY USING to get the information he needs on Anna – he openly admits how shitty this is, but that in now way excuses the action.
Thomas is the token nerd, who also happens to be a mind-reader. He’s probably the most interesting character of the lot, it’s just a shame that he’s sidelined as the sidekick, as I would much rather have preferred to read about the kid with superpowers than the one who kills demons for a living.
Of course, there’s Anna who storms onto the scene in all her ghostly glory, ready to kill some puny humans…oh no, wait. Did this say it was going to be a paranormal romance?! What do you mean this super powerful ghost with a mysterious past is only really here to help our hero on his quest to greatness. Dammit! Why couldn’t she have just killed everybody? I mean, she does kill some people. One time she actually rips someone in two right in front of her love interest and somehow Cas is still interested in her? Nuh uh.
None of the characters were studied in particular depth, and the ending of the series managed to give them relatively happy endings. I could have done with more exploration, especially of Anna, as she’s the most ambiguous character, and what we know of her is only what other people have said about her, which isn’t always pleasant, to say the least.
• P L O T / P A C I N G •
Props to Kendare Blake for making this a seriously fast paced read. Exposition is quick and painless, and the writing style is easy to read and understand, with nothing too complicated about the narrative (there’s no flashbacks or flash forwards). There’s the odd dream sequence, but all is forgiven in light-hearted fun. My only problem was that up until Anna was actually introduced in the first book, Blake relied on line breaks like:
The dead girl. Anna.
Anna Dressed In Blood.
build tension, which I’m not about, because it’s just plain lazy. Yes, we know she’s the ghost he’s hunting for, we get it, move on!
I haven’t read any YA horror, really, so I was excited to see how this story would pan out. The first few chapters I was completely gripped, however, considering the story is titled Anna Dressed In Blood you’d expect Anna to be in the story a lot more than she is. The first book leaves you on the perfect cliffhanger, having finally introduced the main villain and set up the romance, which was…just not great if I’m being honest. Seriously, why would you fall in love with a dead girl, you knew could never come back to life; this relationship was doomed from the start!
I think the second book tried to round things up too nicely. She wanted to solve the conflict between Cas and his family, answer the questions we all had about the secondary characters like Gideon, which probably could have been tacked on to the end of the first book. However, in the sequel, Girl of Nightmares, the Order in introduced as a semi-villain and the characters end up on a whirlwind trip to England – can I just say that we don’t call sausages bangers, and no one actually says “bloody hell” unless they’re ironically quoting Ronald Weasley. More random character and mini-quests are introduced just so we can get to the end and find out what happened to Anna. The sequel didn’t add anything too exciting, and I have to say that I enjoyed the first book more, but not by much even then.
• V E R D I C T •
Overall, I though the romance was pretty ridiculous and couldn’t really connect with any of the characters, so could only enjoy the book on a plot level, and even then…things weren’t looking good. (I will say that the covers for these books are absolutely beautiful and definitely contributed to my wanting to read them!) I can’t say after this that I’ll be looking out for more YA horror in the future, and I only read this duology because I wanted a spooky read for Halloween. It’s not for me, but it might be for you!