Hardcover, 316 pages
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.Love, LOVE the premise of this book. The concept is absolutely wonderful and for the most part the book lives up to the intended intrigue it projects. This was a different combination of paranormal events than what I expected. Ghost hunter, sure. Ghost to be hunted, sure. The tale entwined between the two....whoa.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
What an amazing background and build up for these characters. Right from the beginning I connected with Cas and loved his personality and attitude. He's very mature for his age. I had to remind myself several times that he was still only a teenager. Cas handles tough decisions and situations better than a lot of adults I know. Anna makes a wonderful ghost, but seemed meek at times when I thought she actually should have been stronger considering her personality and powers. One of the difficulties I had with this book was a few of their interactions. I have issues with the believability of them, even though it is fiction, but that is just my opinion. I have friends that didn't even think about it. The group of people that tag along for the ride are an amazing group of people. The things that are presented to them are taken in stride and they roll with the punches so well. These are the people that you could look at them and say, "A bad-ass ghost is trying to kill me. Wanna join in?" They would think for a second, then nod and say, "Sure, sounds reasonable enough..." and proceed to fight for their lives. This type of loyalty is not found often. Everyone searches for this in a friend, let alone be lucky enough to have a group full of people like that.
The plot. Oh my, the plot. Just when I would think I had it all figured out something else would happen and throw me in another direction. The visualizations that Blake creates are both beautiful and absolutely creepy. She will keep you on edge from the first page of the book till the last. There are quite a few "down-times", but they're filled with interesting information that supports and enriches the story so much further. I do have one complainant. Like some of the interactions between Anna and Cas, a few of Anna's capabilities seemed very improbable to me. Yeeahhh, I know it's fiction, but seriously? :) Otherwise, it is an action-packed and mystical chain of events that keep you rolling till the end. This is definitely on my "top ten books of the year" list.