Anna Dressed in Blood
I was reluctant to read this because I really didn’t want to read yet another story told from a first person POV, but a sigh of relief escaped me when I realised that a male main protagonist might be interesting for a change. As it turned out, not ghost hunter Cas would become my favourite character, but Anna, the target of Cas’ latest mission in ridding the earth of evil presences. I was also quite surprised at how much I liked this.
I didn’t think that Anna Dressed in Blood was exactly scary, but there were some surprisingly violent outburst described in detail and a number of unexpected deaths. One could say that the victims had it coming, but I usually expect the meanies and bullies in YA literature to at least get a chance at redemption, an opportunity to see the error of their ways and repent. It was quite refreshing to see short work made of them here.
Our lonely hunter Cas has to undergo some changes in his usual routine. Following his learning curve is quite appealing. I wasn’t sure for how long I would be able to endure Cas’ repeatedly telling the reader why he simply couldn’t quit his ghost hunting occupation to live the “normal” life he’s apparently yearning for. He indulged in believing that he alone carried the weight of the world on his shoulders and that got fairly annoying pretty quickly. But he realised that he did not need to be completely self-reliant and embraced the assets others may bring to the party as well.
The lonely hunter becomes part of a team! I seem to have a penchant for supporting characters, be it in literature or TV. No matter how annoying the main characters may be, if he or she is surrounded by adorable minor characters, I’m prone to see it through. The supporting cast in Anna Dressed in Blood have the potential to be more than mere sidekicks and prove valuable in the fight against the big baddie. They are nicely characterised and have distinct voices, which is no meagre feat to accomplish in a first-person narrative. As usual, I wanted to see more of them than I got. I also liked how Blake integrated the adult characters in a useful way. The absent (dead) father is a trope to emphasise Cas’ compulsive belief that is his fate to continue the ghost hunting no matter what.
I love that the action is not blindly centred around the main protagonist. The characters interact in a (more or less) natural and believable way in the most incredible of circumstances. Well, for someone who is supposedly highly intelligent and vocal, Carmel was acting rather thick-headed in the scenes that led up to the first visit to Anna’s house. I can’t believe that she didn’t see coming what was about to transpire. [She must have had an inkling that her ex-boyfriend would not simply embrace her new love interest, but that at least a prank if not violence would ensue.]
There was a lot to like in this novel. I’m not sure what to think of the ending. It didn’t make me all giddy in anticipation of the next book in the series. But give me a set of scoobies, each with their own distinctive characteristics, each contributing to the success or failure of the mission in their own way, each with their internal tribulations, struggles, and contradictions, and I’m as happy as a clam in a mud tide.
Don't Kill Animals! Not Cool!
I don’t necessarily feel the need to cry to enjoy a book, thank you very much. So I have to repeat that, for me, the death of an animal equals emotional blackmail. The death of an old, smelly cat weighs much more heavily on me than the deaths of a couple of teenagers who still had all of their life… and so on and so forth… I can’t help it: If an animal has to die in a book, even if it does so peacefully of old age, after a wonderful and blissful life, I’m left deeply shaken. Stop doing this to me, authors!