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Series: Anna #1
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cas Lowood, armed with his late father’s athame knife, kills ghosts. In Thunder Bay, Anna, forever 16, drips blood on her white dress from throat slit in 1958, and rips apart anyone who enters her house – except Cas. He makes new friends – high school queen Carmel, jock Will, admiring nerd Thomas and Tom’s voodoo grandpa Morfran – to fight this demon.
Maybe I thought she’d be a sad, frightened girl who killed out of fear and misery. I thought she’d trundle down the stairs in a white dress with a dark stain at the collar. I thought she would have two smiles, one on her face and one on her neck, wet and red.
I honestly had no idea how to go into this story of a teenager who falls in love with a ghost. Of all the reviews I scanned, I could never wrap my head around how an author could pull this concept off with any kind of believability. I’d been scarred by that kind of experience before. Case in point: Spiritus. And I can so totally do without the fucking “Spellbinding and romantic.” –Cassandra Clare on the cover. Gag me and with goddamned spoon. Moving on.
So due to this sort of confusion, I had next to no expectations going on. As the world unfolded around me, I got comfortable, but I wasn’t impressed or anything. Cas (who, although he likes to be called just “Cas,” seems to be called “Theseus Cassio” more often than not) moves to Thunder Bay, Canada with his mother, a white witch, to dispatch the murderous spirit of a girl deemed Anna Dressed in Blood after the gruesome wounds that led to her doom. At the start of it all, I felt sort of detached due to the lax, powerless style of writing. The effect of present tense in this particular narrative drains it of any life it may glean from just the general creativity of the premise. Face it, you can’t tackle a story like this and have it just be ordinary; but the execution left it feeling kind of bland.
Luckily that’s not where the strengths lie because, boy, where the strengths do blew me the fuck away. Before I knew it, I had gotten all wrapped up in the world, following Cas as he developed real friendships for the first time, racked his brain for answers to the question that was Anna Dressed in Blood, strives to best his late father as a hunter… I mean, I really fell in love with his character. He was a good guy! And, no, he certainly wasn’t perfect. He had a mean side, and a scared side, and a tragic side, but he was still just a really strong dude overall.
He wasn’t the only person with layers, either. All of Blake’s characters had an element of depth to them that I could almost reach out and touch. SPOILER [Except for maybe Morfran. He was kinda like a jack-of-all-trades. Whatever answers Cas couldn’t get from his usual sources, he could get from Morfran and Thomas. Not in a bad way, though. Just a… facile way.] And what she does to them! If I had to describe the feeling I got when some stuff happens, I’d relate it to the way I felt when I read Under the Never Sky. That is to say, Wow! This author’s got balls! (In a good way.)
And my favorite character of all? Anna. The most badassest chick, live… ever, in life, and death. There’s no one else worthy of the comparison “a dead goddess,” “Persephone back from Hades” or “Hecate half-decayed”! As an added bonus, she’s not the only strong female in the whole book, either. Carmel holds her own really impressively, in a way that truly surprised me, and Cas’ mother, in her own way, manages strength to match Anna’s as well.
I end this glowing review same as I began – with some kickass quotes for the road!
It took a bit of finesse for them to leave the party behind, to convince the others to keep on drinking and enjoying the edge of the world. Carmel actually had to pull a move that was essentially “Hey, what’s that over there?” on Natalie and Katie before diving into Will’s SUV.
Maybe it is my fault. I could have found another way to Anna. But to hell with that. Mike Andover hit me across the back of the head with a plank and threw me in an abandoned house, all because I talked to his ex-girlfriend. He didn’t deserve to be split down the middle, but he had a kick in the nuts coming to him at the very least.
We shed our jackets and toss our book bags on the sofa. The pitter-patter of dark little feet announces [the cat]’s arrival, and he climbs up Carmel’s thigh to be held and petted. Thomas gives him a glare, but Carmel scoops the little four-legged flirt right up.
“Cross the threshold,” he says.
“You cross mine,” she says back. She’s straining against the barrier spells; her head must feel almost as tight as mine. A thin rivulet of black blood dribbles from her nose over her lips. “Take the knife and come, coward,” Anna shouts. “Come out and let me off this leash!”