2011 release, 5 stars, Anna Dressed in Blood, anti-hero, book review, books, dark hero, editing, Escape Club YA Bookclub, ghost hunter, Girl of Nightmares, Kendare Blake, lunar eclipse, POV, Romeo and Juliet, sympathetic hero, tempo, Tor Teen, voice, YA Horror, YA paranormal, Young Adult Fiction
Carrying on with my lunar eclipse reading, this is another recent favorite, though it was published in 2011. I was turned onto this book by my awesome Escape Club YA Bookclub. Book two is on their 2015 list and I’m playing catch up!
Anna Dressed In Blood is written by Kendare Blake, an American author living in Washington state. She says she “writes dark” and this YA paranormal/horror is no exception. It can be read as a stand alone, but, gratefully, there is a sequel, Girl of Nightmares.
Published by Tor Teen (12 – 18), the premise is simple. Lone ghost hunter boy meets psychotic dead girl and sparks fly. It’s a classic Romeo and Juliet, dagger and all, but the tone, voice and tempo of the story is so engaging, you don’t think cliché all. Not once. The characters are true to life and they propel the story along with their humor, wit and fear. No jolting out of this narrative. It’s tight, authentic and compelling.
Blake has the ability to take a classic star crossed lovers story and turn it into something completely fresh. It’s done with sensitivity and the skill to write characters who grow and develop (forwards and back), allowing for a range of conflicting emotions, morals and drives. In other words, they ring true. The supernatural being, Anna, feels remarkably believable, at once repulsive and sympathetic, a true anti-hero/dark hero. Told in the third person from the POV of Cas, a 17 year old high school junior/ghost hunter, the language is at times raw, the imagery gory and the emotions elating to heartbreaking.
I was particularly impressed with Tor Teen’s editing and liberal ruling on the tone of the story. There was no watering down, censoring of profanity (well, I didn’t see the submitted draft so maybe . . .). The point is, Anna Dressed in Blood treats their readers as the savvy people they are. Well done.
Needless to say, I’m reading book 2 as we speak.