I like a little sugar in my tea, a smidgen of cheese on that cracker, some garnish on a salad (but not too much) and ... (running out of food metaphors)... something novel in a novel.
In writing this review I was surprised to find out that my love affair with Anna Dressed in Blood was conflicted – it seems that sometimes it’s better to just accept that you love something without analyzing why you love it... or this might happen:
To kick off, I love Supernatural. This is not just shameless product placement from a super-fan, I mention this because I was able to replace the super cringe-worthy, point-of-view character, Cas Lowood with the super cool, Dean Winchester using mind-photoshop (Super!) If you are unable to do this through shamefully missing out on the aforementioned genius-TV-show, then you will be stuck with stinky Cas who, completely unbeknownst to him and his friends, is a bit of a douche. Sorry for that, but it’s not too late to take some pro-active measures ...
If you haven't got time to cram a 9 series and counting TV show in before starting this book then fear not, all is not lost! Ordinarily, a main character who I cannot get on with is a deal breaker but, somehow, with a little help from Dean Winchester, I grew accustomed to him (not to the same degree as Henry Higgins grew accustomed to Eliza Doolittle but that would be asking far too much). Ultimately his self-congratulatory, condescending and self-deluded thought processes were, actually, quite funny.
To elucidate this point, a typical example sentence from the ever-humble thought-bank of Cas Lowood: "Girls, on the other hand, have always come easy. I don't know why that is, exactly. Maybe it's the outsider vibe and a well-placed brooding look. Maybe it's something I think I see sometimes in the mirror, something that reminds me of my father. Or maybe I'm just damn easy on the eyes" - (I can't help but think that he favours the latter explanation).
Now, on to bigger and better things; that’s right Cas, there were bigger and better things in this book than you. The writing was clean, the settings were suitably eerie and the action was visceral. The teen sidekicks, Carmel and Thomas, aren't particularly note-worthy but were, gratefully, inoffensive. Carmel is a multi-faceted, kinder and smarter-than-average prom-queen (that's fictional prom-queens, not the real life variety of whom, being British, I have no experience) and Thomas is a less-geeky-than-your-average-geek geek - could there be a romance on the horizon? Anna was Amazing - not only did she kick Cas's bum all over the shop (Hoorah!) but her magnificence actually managed to humble him somewhat (a seemingly impossible feat). Admittedly, being a devilishly awe-inspiring and murderous ghost in a mood-sensitive, chameleon dress does a lot to set her apart from and above her fictional-peers. Just imagine it; a dress that tells people "Don't mess with me right now, unless you want your entrails decorating the walls".
For me it didn’t fit snuggly into the horror genre. There were some tense moments but it was far from bed-wettingly terrifying, not even ‘keep the lights on and hold my hand’ scary. It was more ‘what was that noise’ eerie... a stylish, dark-fairytale... the ‘Vogue’ of ghost stories.
So to round it up: Cas was pretty awful (but I ignored him, just like my mum taught me) and everything else was good but, when all is said and done, it was Amazing Anna, her creepy, desolate house and her incredible dress which made this a 4 star book for me; I guess I really am that shallow. Move over Cas Lowood!