Friday, August 5, 2011

Ghost Story Dressed in Thrills

Anna Dressed in Blood
I love the television show "Supernatural", with all their ghost hunting and crazy experiences. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake is like Supernatural's little brother trying to make his place in a world of creepy ghouls and murderous ghosts.

Theseus Cassio chooses to be called Cas. His father not only left him with an odd name when he died a few years ago, he also left Cas with the legacy of ghost hunting. Cas, using his father's athame, continue the work his father started, ridding the world of murderous ghosts across the country. But he can't stop remembering how his father died, eaten in hunks by the very ghost he was trying to kill. When Cas heads off to Canada on a tip of Anna Dressed in Blood who likes to rip innocent passersby into pieces, he is in for the surprise of his life.

Anna is as lethal as the rumors claim she is, and when a group of boys drags Cas into her house, she splits one in half. Then the remaining boys and Carmel, the school's queen bee, are involved in the vanquish. Cas also has to trust the son of the local witch, Thomas, who helps him create the spells and get the ingredients to weaken Anna. But when they do, they are able to see the horrible story of how she was murdered. On an impulse, they were able to release her from the curse that made her murder. No longer bound by the house, Anna is still haunted, but at least no longer a threat to the public- or at least it seemed that way until a hiker is found ripped into 6 pieces in the woods. One of the boys threatens to kill Anna with Cas's own athame, but Cas is convinced she's innocent. Unfortunately, the ghost responsible might be one Cas isn't ready to deal with, both as a hunter and as boy who lost his father brutally and viciously.

This was a very interesting story that poked a little fun at supernatural stories. For instance, when Cas gets a tip of a rampant wendigo (werewolf), he mocks the tip, claiming people shouldn't believe in silly stories. His hunting is very serious, as well as dangerous, and these ghosts are not the kind who just close doors and make the room go cold- they are stuck on this plane and filled with anger and revenge, which they take out on innocent people. The hunting isn't gratuitously violent, but the very nature of hunting murderers is bound to get pretty bloody. The material isn't too mature, and would be appropriate for more mature middle school students through high school. The language can be a little "colorful" however, and might not appeal to some people for younger students. The language isn't overdone or out of context, but rather a pretty logical response to some of the stressful situations these kids find themselves in. Nevertheless, some people are uncomfortable giving a young kid a book with a lot of adult language, so that should be considered.

The story is really well done. It is realistic with strong, deep characters, and the story ends well. It keeps you wanting more, but it doesn't end with a cliff-hanger. Cas's history is very interesting, as is his self-imposed loner style. In this story, you see him struggle with the idea that anyone he gets close to will either be left behind once the job is done or be in grave danger. He really wants to be a normal kid, but the legacy of being a hunter weighs him down and makes his decisions for him. I really loved this story and hope Blake continues Cas's story. It could very easily be an exciting series with Cas traveling and make friends like Thomas and Carmel in each of his hunts!

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