Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
"I'd like to leave now. I'd very much like to leave now."
I haven't had this much fun reading a YA, since Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. And it's not just because there's a similarity in tone to the both of them. Yes, Cas is funny and snarky, but he has a confidence that guys like Cassel (White Cat; Red Glove) and Necromancer did not have. Cas knows what he was and is driven. It's this confidence that drew me in and bugged me a little. He could be so smug at times. But again, his confidence was not necessarily a bad thing because at least he took charge and knew what had to be done that is until Anna. Now, Anna. What a character! . She scared the crap out of me. When she's initially introduce, well, there's no pussy footing in describing what she is.
"She doesn't wear her death wounds like other ghosts do. They say her throat was cut, and this girl's throat was long and white. But there is the dress. It's wet, and red, and constantly moving, It drips onto the ground."
But like I said, it's got its funny bits too. While the scary bits seemed to have come straight out of The Amityville Horror, well... things are bound to ease up with mentions of those four guys and marshmallow monster, right? Or try,
"I've been Obeahed by an Obeahman? Is this like how the Smurfs say they smurfing smurfed all the time?"
I seriously enjoyed this one and here's why:
1. Cas is not a simple character, this above all is what I liked. He is not Mr. Perfect. He didn't have a superhero complex and was in it for his own reasons. Well, maybe did have the "loner, I'll do this on my own terms" bit down, but other than that he wasn't a complete superhero wannabe. He wasn't as under-doggy like Cassel either because where Cassel had his butt handed to him time and again, here Theseus Cassio knew what he was doing. He's the dutiful son, but had a tendency to behave like a douche.
2. It's very accessible. The story is not that hard to get into. In fact, IMO, it's quick, straight forward, with the snappy dialogue, and clear description.
3. The book knows what it is. It's horror and there's blood and gore and houses that eat the dead. The little added element of lurve is present but it IS NOT what moves the story. It's Cas going about his business: killing those already dead.
4. Cas sounds his age.
Mind you there were moments when I wanted to see them walk to their ends. A couple of these characters were TSTL (case in point Carmel and Thomas snooping.) And then there's item number # 3, which had me wondering, was such a thing really a a necessary addition to an already intriguing story?
Winding down, this is horror; ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD doesn't pretend to be anything else. It isn't one coming of age; it isn't one discovering of friendship or a love-conquers-all tale (much). It's just one bloody scary tale... not all of which happens in the present! Plus, don't you just love that title?