Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter. Ever since his father died on the job, he has taken on the role of “killing” ghosts that won’t, or can’t, move on. After getting rid of a ghostly hitchhiker, Cas and his mother pack up and move to Thunder Bay, a city in northern Ontario, to chase a lead that Cas received. The lead was to hunt down Anna Korlov, a young girl who was killed on her way to a dance and now spends her afterlife decimating, without a trace, anyone who steps into her former home.
The whole time leading up to reading Anna Dressed in Blood I had thought the main character was a female. I’m not even exactly sure why I had that impression, but I was definitely surprised that “Cas” is a guy. The dynamic that Blake has established between Cas and his witchy mother is great. The narrative shows their unconventional lifestyle in a unique way and I loved that. It’s not often that there are many YA books that have a mother/son dynamic as loving and understanding as this. I suppose with the manner that Cas’ father had died, they would have to have an open mind about this sort of paranormal thing. Foregoing the familial factor, I also enjoyed that the main character was a male, written by a female. Of the YA books that I’ve read, it was often starring female leads and many male characters were written by male authors.
Blake is also exceptional at painting a fantastically horrific picture of what is going on. It’s easy to fall into clichés with ghost stories and her imaginative descriptions are not only frightening but, at times, absolutely grotesque. While some characters definitely have the potential to be further developed, the ones she did explore are quite well established. As the reader, you get a sense of who Cas is and what his motivations are.
While there is a touch of romance, it’s not necessarily the main focus of the book. It is the ghost stories that drive this tale, and Anna Dressed in Blood is a good ol’ fashioned scary story – and I absolutely love that.
More in depth discussion on this book will be in the September readalong wrap-up post.