(If you haven’t read my last post on establishing common denominators and encouraging more girls to write horror, you can find it here. Short version: Put good horror reads – written by women – in front of girls who want to write horror—show them that they can do it too!)
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Boy it has an AMAZING cover, doesn’t it? But it’s a little misleading in some ways, I think. The cover plays on what’s popular (nowadays) in many paranormal romance books—the isolated image of a girl with sweeping dark hair etc. But, what I like best about this book is the lack of focus on romance.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a romantic subplot, but I don’t like it when it gets in the way of the story, or when it IS the story. Anna delivers just the right balance of honest teenage emotion, without getting too much into the whole “have to find a mate” thing. I think it’s important for younger readers (maybe especially girls, since that’s what we’ve been fed for years) to know that life isn’t defined by the pursuit of a boyfriend or girlfriend. Really. It’s not.
Part of the reason that there is less of a focus on romance in this novel, I think, is because it’s written from a male character’s POV. His name is Cas. Not that boys aren’t romantic, but I definitely think there is less focus put on romance when the book is told from a male POV.
Have we seen this MC before? Sure. You may recognize him as the smaller version of this guy. 😉 He’s snarky. He’s bad ass. But he’s also compassionate and complex and loves his mom and his friends. He’s familiar enough that you can sink into the story comfortably, without having to try too hard to get to know him. He allows you to just be there for the ride while getting to know him better along the way.
I didn’t find this book to be particularly scary…at first. But by the time we get to Anna? Dude, hold on to your chair. It gets really, REALLY good. She is described wonderfully—her character, her story, is a frightening one.
I don’t want to give too much away in terms of the plot, and you can always read a plot summary on Amazon or Goodreads. I won’t regurgitate here. But, I will say that this book is part of a series, and that while the main story is Anna, there is a bigger story happening all around Cas as well, an ongoing one about his father and his family. Basically, there is a bigger bad than Anna giving Cas grief. 😉 I’ll also say that I don’t think you have to read the entire series. This book worked just fine for me as a stand-alone (though I am starting the second in the series now).
I highly encourage you to download a sample from Amazon (or wherever you go to do such business). If you don’t buy it, you may also find it at the library in hard copy, ebook and audiobook. I checked it out and loved it so much I ended up buying it.