Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Tor Books, 2011. 316 p.
When his father died, Cas Lowood took over the family business – killing the already dead. He was just 14 when he dispatched his first murderous ghost. Now 17 years old, he wanders the country with his mother and their cat following folktales, legends and whispered stories of the dead who refuse to rest in peace, ghosts who kill. He hones his skills hoping to become skilled enough to kill the spirit that murdered his father.
Now stories of a ghost known to locals as Anna Dressed in Blood lead him to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Anna was murdered when she was just 16, on her way to a dance. She still wears the white party dress she wore the night she was killed. But now it is red and dripping with blood. No one who enters her house leaves it alive, until the night she spares Cas. What first appeared to be a simple, ordinary job quickly becomes complicated as Cas realizes she is much stronger than he anticipated. And she is growing stronger. As he races to untangle the web of curses and rage that bind Anna to the house, Cas finds himself falling in love with the ghost he must kill.
I’ve said it before. I don’t normally like horror. No ghost stories, zombies and vampires for me. But I’ve read several books in the last six months that have me reconsidering that position. Anna Dressed in Blood is one of those books. It’s not that it wasn’t creepy or scary. It was! Blake’s descriptions are haunting. People die. But it was so well-written that I didn’t mind getting creeped out. Blake has created a story where the horror creates a setting and framework for the plot but not at the expense of fully-realized characters and an engaging narrative. If you check out Anna Dressed in Blood, be prepared to be scared and to love every moment of it.