Series: Anna #1
Published by Tor.com on 8/30/11
Genres: YA Horror
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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.
What an amazing character Cas is! Cas is a brave, determined soul who feels he is responsible for the safety of mankind from maniacal ghosts. He starts off as a loner because he realizes that socialization does not come with the territory of his occupation. I felt his situation was so unfair. Cas feels like he does not have the option to ever settle down and have relationships. People need people! I admired his steadfast attitude and focus. He doesn’t find himself to be special in any way and takes his “job” seriously.
“I’m not a superhero,” I say. It’s an awful tag. It’s egotistical, and it doesn’t fit. I don’t parade around in spandex. I don’t do what I do and receive accolades and keys to cities. I work in the dark, killing what should have stayed dead. If people knew what I was up to, they’d probably try to stop me. The idiots would take Casper’s side, and then I’d have to kill Casper and them after Casper bit their throats out. I’m no superhero. If anything I’m Rorschach from Watchmen. I’m Grendel. I’m the survivor in Silent Hill.
I adored Tybalt the cat, as well as Cas’ mother. And Anna. We can’t forget about Anna! Firstly, Anna is not to be messed with. Something right out of your worst nightmare. Anna will leave your bladder empty as she takes your head clean off. However, once you learn Anna’s story – right along with her! – you completely understand why she’s pissed and cannot “move on.” It’s a horrific scene that leaves your head spinning, and really adds to the dread and sadness of this book. However, it’s also a major turning point for Anna, and you begin to see a serious transformation in her. I loved the author’s ability to make us feel both horror and pity for Anna, as she is a character that will both scare the pants off you and make you want to hug her. The relationship that emerges between Cas and Anna is magnificent and really becomes the driving force of the story.
This book is not for the easily spooked. It’s a chilling tale of a young girl who finds her way back to humanity 50 years after her demise with the help of a young boy who is bound and determined to keep humanity safe. I was surprised by the language in this book. While it didn’t bother me, be aware that there is cursing throughout. In my opinion, it fit Cas’ personality, which is full of sarcasm. Win!
They rationalized their fears away. People shouldn’t do that.
The dead have simple motives: hate, pain, and confusion. They kill you because it’s the only thing left they have to do.
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