“The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway – no pun intended.”
Kendare Blake‘s Anna Dressed in Blood (Tor Teen, 2011) is the tale of Cas, a young ghost-hunter, as he hunts down and attempts to kill a really nasty ghost who goes by the name of Anna Dressed in Blood. Anna’s throat was cut on her way to a school dance sixty years ago, and ever since she has found disgustingly creative ways to kill everyone who has dared to set foot in her house, long abandoned because, well, nobody likes having their entrails ripped out. She has killed everyone who set foot in her house until Cas, that is, whom she mysteriously spares. This small act of mercy intrigues Cas, who sets out to determine just why Anna is so powerful, supposedly so he can figure out how to kill her, but let’s be real, it’s because she gives him a boner, black veins and blood-soaked prom dress and all.
I had super high hopes for this book. It got great reviews, some people whose opinions I kind of trust liked it, and I read a bunch of excerpts that were snarky and hilarious, but therein lies the problem, at least for me: it was all snark and no art. I love a snarky protagonist, I really do, but if it’s not balanced out by some semblance of something the fuck else then the writing comes across as juvenile and grating. And I get that this is a teen novel, so maybe it’s not a problem that it’s juvenile, but I guess it’s just not a teen novel that crosses over into the realm of this adult’s enjoyment.
I also didn’t totally get the world it took place in. It seemed like a lot of people were aware of and accepting of the presence of ghosts, but then whenever, say, a ghost gobbled a person like a Big Mac it got rationalized up the wazoo. Normal pleebs who got pulled into Cas’s ghost hunt adapted to the very visceral existence of the supernatural hella quick. I just couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be an alternate reality in which this stuff was kind of the norm, or if it was supposed to be our real world plus ghosts that some people knew about. I DON’T KNOW. BAD WORLD DEVELOPMENT.
Plus, Cas. UGH UGH UGH. He was so freaking obnoxious. All he did was snark around and then fall in love with a ghost after she ripped a dude in half in front of him, threw him into a basement with the uber grotesque ghosts of all the people she had killed, and then had about 2.5 conversations with her. I didn’t buy it.
That said, it’s kind of a page turner and I read it super fast, one of those things where when you sit down to read it you get sucked in, but you never lose the awareness that it actually really sucks. But hey, some people seem to love it, so I guess there are some benefits to drugs.
For music I’m going for Shannon and the Clams’ “Would You Love Me If I Was Dead?”
Where I got it: the library