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. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: 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.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

“I’ve seen most of what there is to be afraid of in this world, and to tell you the truth, the worst of them are the ones that make you afraid in the light. The things that your eyes see plainly and can’t forget are worse than huddled black figures left to the imagination. Imagination has a poor memory; it slinks away and goes blurry. Eyes remember for much longer.” – Kendare Blake, Anna Dressed in Blood
I went into this book not really knowing what to expect, other than some type of ghost story. I was kind of hoping to be scared – but I knew it was incredibly unlikely, so I wasn’t disappointed when I wasn’t. I was just so in love with this book from the very first chapter that everything else kind of went to the wind. Of course there were still flaws in this book, but they aren’t to the point where it detracts from the story, which is the important thing. The story itself is beautiful and the writing is beautiful and I really felt a connection with the characters.

Cas is a really strong protagonist and I really enjoyed taking this journey with him. Unfortunately, it’s hard to compete with Anna Dressed in Blood. She definitely takes center stage in this book. Anna is a sixteen year old girl who met a very tragic end the night of a big dance. The visuals of this ghost are something I just can’t quite forget. Imagine a pale girl with veins that snake across her skin and a head full of hair that looks alive floating around her, all the while she floats above the ground in her beautiful white dress drenched in blood. She has made a name for herself in the small town of Thunder Bay that borders Lake Superior with a rap sheet of at least 27 murdered. She’s deadly, dangerous, and full of fury.

Once her story unfolds though and you find out more about her life and what happened to her – you can’t help but sympathize with her and love her even more.

The writing in this book is really fun and beautiful at the same time. I didn’t feel like anything was forced with the character’s interaction with each other. Blake didn’t shy away from Cas and others cursing, and honestly it was kind of refreshing. I find it weird when YA authors write works that take place in the mid/late teens and there is no cussing or anything. I don’t know how often they’re around teens… but yeah… it just doesn’t happen like that.

“But hey, at least we’ll have this strange story to tell, love and death and blood and daddy-issues. And holy crap, I’m a psychiatrist’s wet dream.” – Kendare Blake, Anna Dressed in Blood
I loved this book so much. It was sitting on my shelf since it’s publishing date three? years ago and I actually left in Illinois in storage. For some reason though I had to read it right now and couldn’t wait until Christmas when I go home to visit so I actually went out and bought another copy. I’m so glad I did. It’s a lot darker than I guess I thought it would be, just since YA horror novels tend to tread on the safe side. While there are truly brutal scenes in this book, none of it is over the top or gross.

Girl of Nightmares review coming soon.