I know this is usually a Road Trip Wednesday thing, but the YA Highway people have been doing general “Year End” kind of stuff this week, and I’ve been a little preoccupied (in a good way) with Christmas, travel, and family to participate. But I still want to make a pick for Book of the Month, so here it is:
ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake. An odd choice perhaps, given that I keep insisting I don’t read horror and this is YA Horror. But it was certainly the best book I read this month, and I will tell you why I think it deserves the accolade. First, let me tell you what it’s about. The main character, Cas, is a 17-year-old (I think that’s his age–either 16 or 17) ghost-hunter, a mantle he has taken from his dad ever since his father was gruesomely killed by the last spirit he encountered. He receives tips from various sources, and based on those tips, he and his mother (who is a dab-hand at witchcraft) move to where the troublesome spook is, hunts them down, and, with his father’s athame blade, sends them to their eternal home.
This time, Cas gets a tip about a murderous ghost in Thunder Bay, so they move to Canada. This particular ghost, known by the locals as “Anna Dressed in Blood” was the victim of a brutal assault, but no-one seems to know much about what happened. All they know is that her abandoned home is haunted by her, and anyone that enters that house ends up dismembered (it’s YA Horror, remember!). When Cas first encounters Anna, however, she spares his life. There’s more to Anna than Cas anticipated, and he certainly didn’t expect to second-guess his mission–but he does.
That’s about as much as I can say without giving away too much. I enjoyed the way the plot turns. Kendare does a great job of inserting backstory in a way that makes it interesting and doesn’t take you out of the story. She also puts in plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing. I can’t say there were huge surprises for me, and I guessed correctly some of the main plot points–but that’s not a big deal to me. These weren’t necessarily obvious, but she laid the clues for them and I picked up on the clues. That’s good writing, in my book. I found the characters to be believable, and well-conceived. It’s written in the present tense from Cas’s viewpoint, and his voice came through loud and clear.
It’s definitely not for the squeamish, though I shuddered more at Cas’s potty mouth than at the horror bits. That said, the book is not a blood-fest, and there’s very little (if any) sexual content. The R rating I would give it is largely because of the profanity and as a warning that there are gory bits. But again, Kendare doesn’t relish in the blood-and-guts. She tells you what happens, what Cas sees, and then gets on with the story. This goes to show that her main concern is the story, not the shock. I definitely recommend this to fans of the genre.
What was your favorite read this month?
Program Note:On Monday, I’ll post a list of contenders for my Book of the Year. On Tuesday, January 1st, I’ll announce my Book of the Year, and launch the contest to win a copy of that book.