5 Haunted, Romantic Stars!
Anna Dressed in Blood was one of the best spooky paranormal stories I've read this year. That cover is gorgeous, and the blurb sets the tone for this book. It was suspenseful, filled with a kind of horror that'll have your heart twisting in knots for the characters, and for the beautiful and sad Anna. It was inventive, with a tricky story-line that the author was able to draw out wonderfully.
It was so, so refreshing to read a book that was told from the guy's perspective. I've had enough of the typical heroines in stories and their POVs. This was about Cas. This was about a tortured hunter who is trying to avenge his father's death. This is about a tormented seventeen year old who doesn't care about how hard he's become, how he's closed off emotionally, how he's done his father proud and doesn't need to prove anything anymore. Cas is that typical brooding, young male with dark secrets. Except, his secrets aren't so bad. Unless you consider that he kills what's already dead for a living bad.
I mean, who thinks like that anyway? Ghost hunters are cool!
After three years of moving around with his mom and killing ghosts, Cas is on his way to Thunder Bay, Canada to take on the one and only Anna Korlov. Or, Anna Dressed in Blood. A tip from a friend in New Orleans sends him on this hunt, which will prove to be the toughest job he's ever had.
I really loved his relationship with his mom, and how close they are. They love wholeheartedly, like to tease each other, and in simple terms, they are a great duo. Since this was the first book told in a guy's voice that I've read in like, ever, I wasn't sure what to expect from him. Cas was a tough cookie to figure out. He doesn't let his emotions get in the way of a job, and he doesn't even have any friends because they're always on the move. I loved how supportive his mom was of what he does, how she understands the need for him to avenge his father's death. She's not one of those parents who stays in the background; in fact, Cas lets her know everything that's going on, though not always when it happens. Instead of turning her away, she's his best friend. And other than the black cat who is like a personal ghost detector, his mom, and an old friend on the other side of the pond, Cas has no one. But he prefers it that way.
Until he gets to Thunder Bay. Suddenly, he's making friends, falling in love with a ghost, and fighting off an evil unlike he's ever known or heard about.
Cas has his own signature moves when hunting a ghost. Firstly, he researches the stories (even thought he really hates that part). He's more the type to jump headfirst into something before really understanding the situation. Secondly, he uses school and his "mysteriously-appealing-new-kid-charm" to make friends with the people who will lead him straight to the legends. And he needs them this time because he has no idea where Anna Korlov's house is. Thirdly, he attacks.
But he doesn't count on making enemies, being knocked out and thrown into the house while unconscious, or that Anna would be the toughest ghost he's ever fought. But Anna doesn't kill him; instead, she lets him go. But someone else pays the price for the stupid prank.
When Cas isn't the only one who saw what happened to Mike and saw what Anna looked like, he has to do damage control. But now everyone wants in on his hunt, thinking only of avenging their friend's death. Of course, they don't believe Cas when he tells it like it is. A short ghostly side-trip should do the job of making them believe. A little skirmish is nothing this bad boy can't handle.
Cas is all like, "Bitches, please. I'm a badass."
He suddenly has a team of amateur ghost hunters, including a resident psychic and his grandfather, which is the last thing he wants. Except he needs their help to perform a spell on Anna, to find out what happened to her, why she's so powerful and why she can't leave the house.
The truth is far more sorrowful than they ever thought...
Anna's death was dark, chilling, and utterly painful to read about. Her murder was truly awful. It made me want to cry! She was such a young girl, so full of life and with dreams far bigger than her dismal future. Her past being played out before their very eyes makes them all question whether killing her would be the right thing to do. And it leaves Cas doing the one thing he thought he'd never do: protect a ghost. He does it because he's falling in love with a dead girl, a ghost that's been misunderstood with a dark spell placed on her to keep her from moving on in peace. So, Cas does the only thing he can of think of to help Anna. He frees her from the hold the house has on her.
But Anna is not the only strong spirit in town, not the only deadly one around. People are being murdered, eaten. They think it's Anna after Cas freed her, but she swears it's not. And the truth is far more twisted.
Actually, my reaction was more like: what the fuck?!
What they all don't count on is something even more sinister and deadly in Thunder Bay, a ghost so old and evil that they are out of their element in dealing with it. The same ghost who killed Cas' father. Not to mention, he's been living with Cas and his mom for all this time. And he wants Anna.
It's chilling realization that brings Cas to his knees, his head clouded with doubt, confusion, and uncertainty. He couldn't have known, yet he feels totally responsible for all that's happened. Those deaths were because he'd brought the ghost here. And it's because of him that Anna is in danger. Now it's peril that they stop him before he becomes even more powerful. With a plan, some spells, and a great deal of courage and luck, they face the strongest spirit they've ever encountered. And they win.
...but the cost is almost more than they can bear.
Gah, that ending! It's killing me to know that Anna's gone, and that it wasn't a very happy ending for her and Cas. It's crazy, right? It's crazy that I can feel so strongly about a couple, even though it's so unconventional and tragic? Well, call me crazy, but I don't care. In paranormal books, as well as fantasy and sci-fy books, the rules are different. What is unconventional in real life is normal in them. What's impossible is now suddenly believable and real.
I loved the author's writing style, and how she drew me in using Cas' POV. It was so different, yet so nice, to have a guy telling the story through his eyes. I loved Cas' character, his witty humor and tortured spirit. I loved watching how his relationship with Anna developed. Many times throughout the book, Cas found himself going to Anna's house when he couldn't sleep. They'd stay up talking, laughing. It was almost normal, almost like she wasn't a ghost and he wasn't there to kill her. And I just loved getting those glimpses into their thoughts and feelings, their pasts. His and Anna's relationship was so tragic, yet so beautiful.
"We'd be the fricking dragon and the wicked fairy."
The relationship between Cas and his mother was so very endearing, and had me laughing a lot. His and Thomas' friendship was wonderful to read about, and I was so glad he found someone with whom he could share this life.
It was a nice mix of Ghost Adventures and Supernatural. I was hooked from the beginning, and the ghostly components were perfect. I want more of Anna, Cas, and the rest of this misfit group of characters. The story-telling in Anna Dressed in Blood was amazing, right down to the distinctive voice of Cas. The mysterious plot was both haunted and romantic, a wonderful and original ghost story.