Monday, 19 November 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake **Review & International Giveaway**

Anna Dressed in Blood
by Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Pages: 384
Publisher: Orchard Books
Release date: 5th July 2012
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

Add it to Goodreads
Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book

Goodreads synopsis:
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. 

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, 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, but now stained red and dripping 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.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.
I had been very excited to read this, ever since I first heard about it, when it was released in the US. I can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to it!
I hadn't initially thought that this book would manage to be scary, action-packed, heart-wrenching and romantic all at once - after all (to me, at least), horror and romance do not go hand-in-hand - and then there was the fact that the romance was between a ghost hunter and a ghost! But I was proven wrong on this, and I'm so glad I was!

On the back of the book (at least, on the UK paperback), there is a little circle that says 'Not for younger readers', and this is absolutely the case. There is very strong language in places, but aside from that, the scenes - particularly involving Anna - can get very graphic, gory and violent.
I have never come across a book like this in YA fiction before, so I would definitely say that it's an older teen read.
I'm not usually a fan of anything gory or violent, myself, but I found that, in this case, it didn't really bother me. There were a couple of moments when I couldn't help but go "ewww", but at the end of it, it was just a part of the story (that wasn't there just because - it had a purpose), and I loved that story, so I was completely fine with it.

As soon as I read the very first page of this, I was instantly gripped. We're introduced to Cas, and his way of life, whilst he's in the middle of what he does best - hunting down and killing a malicious, murderous ghost. I think it's because we're just thrown right into the thick of things, that it's so immediately absorbing, but I carried on being interested in what was happening, even after this initial excitement had calmed down. I wasn't bored for even a second, throughout the entire book!

I loved the turn that the plot took, in terms of Anna. I hadn't expected to like, or even sympathise with her, but not only did I do that, I also (like Cas), fell totally in love with her! Her own, personal story is so interesting, but so horrific, that I physically couldn't stop turning the pages, as what happened to her in the final moments of her life was revealed. I can't wait to see how her story will develop in the sequel!

There seemed to be so many different story lines criss-crossing through this book, but I don't think it would have been the same without any of them. Obviously there is Cas and Anna's story, and Anna's personal story, but we also have Cas' background story, with how he became a ghost hunter, and his life, moving around to hunt the dangerous spirits that plague humanity. There's also what happened to his Dad, which eventually becomes much more important to the story.
I also didn't find the story at all predictable. There are parts that are perhaps easier to guess, or not quite as shocking as other parts, and I did have a gut feeling about one of the twists in the book (and I was right about it), but I still wouldn't call it predictable. I didn't see the ending coming at all, and so I have no idea where the story will go in the sequel. All of it is extremely exciting, and I can't wait to see how it all continues. It's not a case of wanting to know what happens, but more a case of needing to know.

The various characters in the book are definitely worth mentioning. Obviously we have the mostly solitary, but brave and mysterious Cas, and the frightening, terrible, yet somehow amiable and alluring Anna, but we also have a whole family of other wonderful characters.
There's Thomas; an awkward and slightly nerdy amateur witch, and his eccentric Grandfather, Morfran. We also have the 'queen bee' of the school, Carmel, who is far from what we usually expect from her kind of character. Cas' mum is also a great character, and one I ended up really liking, despite her fairly minimal role. She has been through so much in the past, and she's still strong enough to let Cas do what he needs to do, despite the dangers that face him. She's really supportive, and I love her for that!
There is another, incredibly sinister character, who I would love to mention in much more detail, but I can't - that would be telling! - you'll just have to read it, and find out for yourselves. But I can tell you that they are creepy to the extreme, and such a great antagonist!
As you can tell, all of these characters are so well-developed and distinct from one another. All of them feel so completely real that they could almost walk straight off the page - which in Anna's case, could be pretty frightening! You know it's a good read when you actually physically ache for a fictional character!

Some people have said that the hype this book received when it first came out, ended up building their expectations too high, and that the book then turned out not as good as they'd hoped and been told, but this was certainly not the case for me.
I'm not usually great with horror, but I didn't find this that frightening - although this may be a problem for some readers, who prefer a scary read, it wasn't a problem for me. I loved every moment of it, and I definitely loved it more than I thought I would at the beginning. I can't wait to read more!!

And now for the giveaway! Courtesy of the wonderful people at Hachette Children's Books, I have one paperback copy of Anna Dressed in Blood to give away to one lucky international follower! As usual, I have a few rules to put down before you start entering:

  • You must be a follower of Pen to Paper via Google Friend Connect (GFC) to enter the giveaway. My giveaways are for my wonderful followers, as a thank you for being so great, so why not become one of them? 
  • The giveaway is international, so anyone can enter.
  • There are optional entries available for this giveaway. They are optional, but may mean the difference between you winning, or someone else taking the prize.
  • If you enter for the optional entries, please make sure you fulfil the requirements in full, otherwise your extra entries will not be counted.
  • I will email the winner when the giveaway is over, and they will have 48 hours to reply to this email in order to claim their prize. If I hear nothing in this time, I will have to draw another winner, and the original winner will forfeit their prize.
  • As the prize will be shipped by Hachette, I will pass on the winner's postal address to them, and they will sort out sending the prize out. I will only pass this information onto the publishers, and no one else. 
  • Please don't leave your email address anywhere in the comments on Pen to Paper. I use Rafflecopter to keep your details safe, so please take advantage of this. 
  • The giveaway will end on December 10th 2012 at 23:59 EST
So that's the rules... all that's left to do now is make sure you're following, and get yourselves entered in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck to all! 


beccabooklover said...

Not my usual kind of read but this does look quite interesting. I want to hear more about the spirit-sniffing cat though haha! I'm not the type to read gore either but this sounds like it has a solid plot and a wealth of characters so will have to give it a try :) And the sinister character not mentioned has intrigued me! Sounds rather creepy!

Becca @ Lost in Thought

Raine said...

I've seen the book in several blogs before and at one time I read from a blogger that she had to keep her lights on and check under the bed just to be sure because she was in the middle of reading the book. :D It's tickling my curiosity. :D

Tara said...

I've been waiting for this one since it was released in the US too! Can't believe I still haven't got a copy - I think it's because I'm working through my already ridiculous TBR pile!

I'm even more excited for it now you've posted this though - maybe an early Christmas present for myself?

Many thanks!

Luc said...

I dont read book, yet. But it sounds great, i like the book idea. And I like ghost, too.

Sabryy said...

I would love to read this book! It seems like a good read. Thanks for the review, I like it :)

Bunny said...

Sounds good! I wanted to buy it for a while now, but stiill waiting...

Romule said...

I've read this book and it's absolutely amazing. It's good that it isn't ordinary ghost story, but something new. I'm glad you liked it :).

Leonor (Ner) said...

I absolutely LOVED this book. I burrowed it from a friend who warned me this book was awesome but I didn't trusted her (I should have). As soon as I was done, I didn't wanted to give it back to her.

You can check my review here if you wish ;-)

Also, thank you for the giveaway. I would really love to have a copy of this book for myself :)

And, again, welcome back ^_^

XX Ner

petoskystone said...

This book merely sounded interesting until I read your review. Now it's on my wish list as well :) You really brought this book to life. As an aside, when I first read the title it brought to mind stories my daughter would tell of 'Bloody Mary' (that seems to go around most every middle school in this country!).

erin said...

I have read such great reviews for this book, including this one :) Thanks for spotlighting and reviewing. I might have to splurge and finally get it :)

kimbacaffeinate said...

Dani I love your review and this is sitting in my TBR make me want to drop my ARC and read it!!

Alex @ alex's bookish blog said...

Nowadays there are not many decent horror YA books.. they normally don't go together ;/ this seems an exception though!

Hope you are doing better and that you are back for good! :) We have missed you! :)

Thanks for the giveaway :) xoxox

caroline.taylor078 said...

Good to see you back Dani!!
Sadly I fall into the category of people who were really hyped for the book and then didn't like it as much as expected, I did enjoy it but I was expecting to be blown away. The cover remains one of my faves though!

Michelle Scott said...

I read this book this summer, and it was really good! It reminded me of the TV show Supernatural (what with the ghost hunting and all). I don't usually get scared by books, but this one was a real thriller. And I thought it was YA...a very old YA, but still YA. I'm glad that others realize that it's not really appropriate for the 12 - 14 yo crowd, lol.

Whats Beyond Forks? said...

I've had my eye on this book for a while. It sounds like something I would like. :o) Thank you for the giveaway!

Doodle Bug said...

Great Review. I didn't know anything about this book before reading your review I had just glimpsed it around the blogs and figured if everyone is reading it I should probably check it out. After reading your review I know I will read the book. I like romance stories that are way out of the ordinary!

Stephanie Huff said...

I have been fortunate enough to read this book as well and like you LOVED it! I'm glad you liked it as well! I'm impatiently awaiting my chance to read the sequel. I would love to own both of these books, I mean how awesome is it that the writing is RED!!! You gotta love YA.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Midu Hadi said...

I'd love to get a copy even though I've read it. You're right about the sinister character..I just kept thinking "the poor cat!" lol

Filia Oktarina said...

I will love to hve this book, it look interesting. I never read horror genre, so this will be my first book :)

Faye (Daydreaming_Star) said...

Everything you said... I agree completely.
I just finished this yesterday and it was absolutely stunning. It pulled my hand from the first page, like yours, and then it just wouldn't let go. It was moving, it was scary but not too the extreme, it had such a complicated and amazing romance and it was all so complex and interesting and just brilliant!

I'm glad you really enjoyed this one too. What a brilliant review to get you back into reviewing again :-)

Oh, and the antagonist? A-MAZING. I sort of saw it coming, not quite like that, but I knew SOMETHING was going to happen with the rats. It was really exciting what did happen though. :D


The Reading-ista said...

I have had my eye on this book for awhile and thought that I would get to it before the release of book 2, but have not as of yet. Thank you for your review and for the great reminder that I need to carve out some time for this read.
- The Reading-ista

Charlie-Dee said...

I really want to read this book. Keep seeing on my wishlist but on a book ban at the moment :)
Cdee x

Sierra Abrams said...

Your review makes me want to read it even more! Ghost hunters, back stories, secret sinister characters, and worthy of the hype?! You've got me there! Your review was awesome and I hope to win this book! :)

Sierra Abrams @ Yearning to Read

nurmawati djuhawan said...

i really want to have anna dressed in blood...i hope i win this giveaway...

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