Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake | Book Review
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Cas travels the world, hunting ghosts as his father did before him. Before a ghost ended his life. Cas has yet to face the being who took his father away. But each successful hunt brings him closer to avenging him. Until Cas faces Anna Dressed in Blood. A ghost who murders any who steps foot into her house. But something is different about Anna. She’s powerful, deadly, and yet, she saves his life. While the locals simply want Anna erased, Cas isn’t so sure it’s the best action. As he begins to research Anna’s untimely end, he’ll uncover more than just the tragedy of her life.
Anna Dressed in Blood held the possibility of dark supernatural horror. The cover alone lured me in with promise, not to mention the murderous ghosts and a boy who hunts them. However, aside from a few scenes of gore and the presence of ghosts, this fell short of meeting the title of a horror novel. The suspense and apprehension that come with a horror story were missing. Foreshadowing is a key element, luring the readers into fearing what comes next or building a sense of dread in them. But there was no foreshadowing. There was an element of mystery surrounding Anna’s death, but there wasn’t enough struggle to uncover it.
I also did not connect well with the characters or relationships. Cas was overdramatic, playing a bit too far into the bad boy trope. There was also a focus on romantic relationships which took away from ghost hunting. The sporadic behavior of the antagonists felt disjointed and only served to move the plot along. It would have also been nice to see the supernatural elements in more of an antagonistic light instead of rival teenagers. Not to mention the dialogue and use of language were more suited for a young adult fiction novel vs a horror novel. While I understand this is geared for young adults, I needed better world-building and a solid foundation for all of this to stand on.
Anna’s character was the most interesting, and her story truly was tragic. I wish more time had been spent with her. The relationship building felt cluttered like it didn’t quite fit with the story. I would have liked to see the lore and rumors surrounding Anna built on. Give readers more of a tease before revealing the ghost, then don’t hold back from her abilities. Weave in and out of the story, making it the central focus. There was even plenty of opportunity to add in the emotional background from Cas’ own tragic past to layer in remorse and sympathy. But it missed the mark.
If you’re a reader looking to dip your toes into horror, then I would suggest trying Anna Dressed in Blood. It’s not immersive in the way most horror novels are, and if you are unsure of the genre, it would be a good starting point. However, if you enjoy novels with spine-tingling writing and hardcore suspense, this won’t be the book for you.
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