Athame? Athayou!

Anna Dressed in Blood  - Kendare Blake

Because it was a decent half of a book.

I was going to start off harping on how fittingly vague the blurb was on this one but seeing as it has now been fixed (thank you, kind librarian!) I am but left with my confusion and my frown lines.

Anna Dressed In Blood started off really… different. Not good or bad different, just something I've never seen before. The story is told from the POV of our hero, Theseus Cassio, a seventeen year-old boy who goes around with his precious athame (knife) looking for murderous ghosts to kill. We get a peek on how exactly he does this as we join him in an operation to put a stop to a homicidal hitchhiker.

I feel like being promised a certain kind of story in the first half, one that's organized and neat and getting a big bowl of messy in the end. Something I cannot excuse in an on-going series. I like books in a series to make sense independent of each other and this one just stopped being promising and just started to be downright messy right to the point when Cas and the gang did that spell to Anna. I realized I was making one too many allowances for unresolved plot threads and uncanny logic one too many times up to that point.

Cas is killing all these ghosts to avenge his dad… how? And Anna is the last one he needs to off before he goes to Baton Rouge because… why? Not to mention the hazy mythology surrounding the athame, the specifics of Anna's curse, the actual nature of his relationship with his father and his mother… some of the answers came out of nowhere solid and one too many non-answers started to pile up for me to ignore and I just couldn't enjoy the book anymore.

I find Cas a very unreliable and uneven narrator. In the early chapters I liked how he was this weird kid who rhapsodizes over his impending meeting with the terrible ghosts that is Anna. 

 

"Anna Korlov. Anna Dressed in Blood."
Her name moves through the dark like a dancer. Hearing it in someone else's voice outside my own head, makes me shiver.


It was very amusing to me, how he came across like a die hard fanboy, completely jazzed over meeting his idol finally.



He started off quite intense early on then gradually giving way to his sardonic humor once he started to forge friendships with Thomas and Carmel. His early interactions with Thomas reminded me of Mr Fredricksen and Russell in Up. Yet for all that charm and wit, there's something cold about him. Something that's perhaps borne out of his anemic relationship with his mother (which was never explained) that never made me sympathetic to his lack of emotional roots and friendships because of the nature of his vocation and his father's backstory (also not explained).

As a narrator he also has this habit of contradicting himself, recollecting within a recollection and there's something about his humor that sometimes fails to click with me. That makes him come across an arrogant young boy with a filthy mouth who throws a tantrum when people "touch his things". 

Kendare Blake's take on ghosts stuck on exacting the very same cruelty to others that was dealt them is hardly original and I wasn't particularly spooked off by their actions. Though this might be partially my fault for not reading this in one sitting. I tend to get creeped out through building the right amount of tension in the atmosphere than the actual gore-fest, which is easy to lose when you're setting this aside then picking it up after paying your phone bills.

I'm genuinely torn if I should pick up the next book in the series, because it seriously took me half a day to finish the last 20% of this book re-reading the same lines several times to make things sink in. 

Maybe on a day when my patience spills forth, overflowing along with indulgence and forgiveness.