Review originally published here
.Why I Read It:
I've been seeing a ton of glowing reviews for this all over the web. It helped that the cover caught my eye as well. Also, I don't think Horror is done very often in YA, so I was curious. Luckily, one of my managers at work got a finished copy of this and an ARC of the sequel, Girl of Nightmares
, and wasn't interested in reading it, so she passed them on to me! There are some minor spoilers ahead (sort of).
I'm not too sure how to review Anna
because my reaction to the book was quite different from (what feels like) everyone else. I liked it okay, but I hardly loved it.
But let's start with the good: Thesseus Cassio, Cas for short, is a good narrator. I think Blake nailed the male voice decently, and while Cas isn't exactly likable, it's not agonizing being stuck in his POV either. He starts off as a bit of a stuck-up jackass, but over the course of the novel he warms up to a few people who he learns to call friends, and that was endearing. His wry manner of speaking, while not laugh-out-loud funny, are genuinely amusing.
Where I started to trip up was where the titular Anna Dressed in Blood is concerned. At first, Anna is terrifying. She eviscerates a teenager for stepping into her haunted house! There are blood and guts everywhere! OMG. But then for some reason she doesn't attack Cas?? She is completely normal around Cas. Why is this?? I don't recall it ever being explained. Then we're explained why he eviscerates people for stepping into her house, and while some people found that story incredibly sad, I had a hard time getting behind it. Why was Anna's mom so crazy?? Seriously, who would do something like that to their daughter? I want more motivation than "My daughter was going to a dance in a pretty dress! THAT WHORE!!"
Then the romance. This is where things get mildly spoilery, but it's revealed so soon in the story that I wouldn't say it's THAT spoilery. I put spoiler tags, just in case. But anyway, Cas develops a bit of a crush on Anna. Why do you ask? I... seriously don't know. He WATCHES her while she rips a guy in half, and yeah, Anna doesn't have control over it, but that should seriously mess someone up, even someone as hardened as Cas. And the things he finds attractive about her were strange.. like her bottomless pit of eyes, or the dark creepy veins that would appear on her skin when she was going Bad. I don't see how this is sexy, but Cas is an odd type I guess. Anyway, my point is that I couldn't get behind the romance, even though I liked both the characters individually.
I found the reveal of the villain at the end of the story confusing as well. It's been almost two weeks since I finished the book, which is partly to blame, but even while reading I kept thinking: "Did I miss something?" The origin of Cas's Ghost Killing Knife Thingie was also confusing (it's explained more in the second book, but it didn't clear that much up for me, but that's for another review.)
However, despite all these qualms and complains, this book is still fun. I still liked it, even while I was picking it apart. I was still a little bummed out I couldn't love it as unconditionally as many others have appeared though. Ah well!Final Verdict:
This was a case of "like" instead of "love". Cas is an enjoyable narrator, even if he isn't wholly likable, and his personal arc was fun to read. Where I had problems with the story was the lack of explanation for Anna's curse not working when it came to Cas, and the relationship between Anna and Cas (which I just couldn't get behind.) The story itself was fun enough for me to look beyond all these complaints, but they're still present regardless.