Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
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.
Miss Riki’s Review:
After his father dies attempting to kill a powerful ghost, Cas Lowood follows in his footsteps in an usual vocation with a desire to avenge his father’s death. Armed with his father’s deadly athame, Cas travels the world with his witch mother and spirit-sniffing cat in search of spirits on the hunt to kill. They never stay in one place long, always in search of the next deadly ghost, so Cas isn’t sure why he’s drawn to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he is in search of perhaps the deadliest ghost ever to exist. Anna Dressed in Blood is dangerous and powerful, still wearing the dress she wore the night she was brutally murdered in 1958. The dress was once white, but now drips menacingly with blood, and Anna has killed every person who has ever dared set foot into the Victorian home she haunts. When Anna spares Cas’s life during their first encounter, Cas is drawn into a terrifying dilemma of how to stop the killings and make sense of the circumstances surrounding them.
This book was wonderful! It’s eerie and haunting, with an amazing protagonist and well developed secondary characters. What jumped out at me right away was the interminable spirit and wonderful voice of the narrator, Cas. He’s snarky and sarcastic, yet incredibly brave and sure of himself, and I fell in love with him right away. There’s a wonderful sense of family obligation as well, and I loved how big of a role Cass’s mother gets in the story. It’s refreshing in YA to see parents play an integral role in the narrative, and I really enjoyed the supportive relationship of mother and son.
The novel is full of spook and unspeakable horror, yet has a softer side as well. Although the murders are brutally depicted, there’s a larger perspective of humanity that goes along with it. Just when things get really tense and you find yourself entangled in the horror, there’s a wonderful sense of levity and humor that runs through the book. I found myself recoiling in revulsion when Cas encounters the gore of the dead, and was on the edge of my seat when the action ramps up and a final fight for power goes down. The death in this book might be terrifying, but it’s beautifully written, with gorgeous imagery. I found myself highlighting lines throughout the book that stood out for their elegance and loveliness.
This book has everything you could ask for in a young adult horror novel. It’s got an appealing and likeable cast of characters, plenty of gross-out descriptions of blood and gore, tons of on the edge of your seat action, and a tender love story. It quickly made its way to the top of my list of favorite books read so far this year and I’m eager to pick up the second book in the duology, Girl of Nightmares to see what happens next.