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Books 16-17

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars




I am always leery of reading books that have been hyped to the heavens and even more leery of actually buying them but over the holidays the book clubs all had major sales so I bought this. For once the book lives up to the hype. I haven’t had this much fun with a book in a long time.



Theseus Cassio ‘Cas’ Lowood can see and hunt ghosts like his father before him. The book opens in media res with Cas hunting down the hitchhiker ghost. In this world there are two kinds of ghosts, the harmless haunts but the majority of them, the name ghosts if you will, are compelled to kill. Cas, using his father’s athame, ‘kills’ the ghosts so to speak.



After dealing with the hitchhiker, Cas and his white witch mother head to Thunder Bay Ontario based on a lead from Daisy, a Goth boy in New Orleans, one of the people Cas trusts to feed him real information. This is their life. Mom makes money with her spell components etc on line and they bounce across the world killing ghosts. As a phone presence we have Gideon, one of Dad’s friends in London. Dad, however, was eaten by a ghost when Cas was seven.



Cas has led them to Thunder Bay after Anna Dressed in Blood. He meets Thomas almost immediately, a teen his age, who can read minds and whose grandfather practices voo doo and witchcraft. They were the people Daisy told him to find. At the local high school, Cas also meets Carmel Jones, the school queen who, unlike many such creatures, is actually nice and intelligent. We also meet Mike, Will and Chase, the local jocks and Mike was Carmel’s boyfriend. Carmel and Cas seem to bond over their silly names and she invites him and Thomas out to a kegger.



Cas goes hoping to hear more about Anna’s legend. All he knows is that she was found in the fifties along the road in a party dress with her throat cut. Everyone assumed she was killed by a secret boyfriend or random pervert. Cas gets more than he hopes for. A jealous Mike invites him along with the others, to go to Anna’s house to prove who has the bigger balls. The locals know that people going into the house are never seen again but of course the teens mostly think it’s a rumor.



Until Anna appears. Until she kills. Until Cas realizes Anna is like no other ghost he has ever seen before and she whips his butt ten ways to Sunday but for some reason doesn’t kill him. Cas is amazed, frightened and intrigued. He starts going to the house, even as he’s having strange nightmares. He realizes Anna is completely sentiment and doesn’t really want to kill.



Even as he and Anna begin to bond, he and his new friends, an idea that is rather foreign to him, start working a spell to bind and weaken Anna. Even Carmel and Will are willing to help, mostly out of fear and guilt over what happened that night. However, Will begins to realize Cas is going soft on Anna and makes plans of his own. Cas plays matchmaker between Thomas and Carmel, hoping they don’t notice he’s falling for Anna.



However, it’s apparent that the big showdown is going to happen mid-book leaving you wondering what else can happen. There are only three outcomes here: they kill Anna. They fail. They set her free. The rest of the book deals with the aftermath of the spell. Have they done the right thing? Are they going to turn on each other? What are the new killings all about?



Cas and his friends are imminently likeable. There is of course a Buffy the Vampire Slayer riff to it (they even reference the show several times) but that’s to be expected. The show has become rather seminal to the genre. Unlike Buffy, Cas is resistant to the idea of quitting. He chooses this life. I’m not much on romance so maybe that’s why I felt it was a bit out of nowhere but still it is very interesting. It’s a complete story. It’s open enough at the end that we might be seeing further adventures of Cas Lowood but it isn’t needed to have a sense of closure. The one real drawback to this, and its minor, is the printing. I’ve seen this a lot lately in vampire and steampunk books, too. The ink is this sepia-toned, mixed with dusty purple, affair that is hard to read. Maybe if I were actually a YA reader I wouldn’t mind so much but it gave me headaches. This book is one I’d recommend to all my friends.





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D.Gray-man 21 (D.Gray-man, #21)D.Gray-man 21 by Katsura Hoshino

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Sometimes this manga’s story lines are taut and heart wrench and other times it seems they were conceived while taking powerful hallucinogens. This volume is the latter. There were more times than not I couldn’t make sense of it and it didn’t help that Alma and Kanda’s hair alternated between white and black….



It picks up where volume twenty left off, the Order under fire as not only are the Noah and the Earl there but Alma Karma, a boy, no an experiment, of the order has awaken and is totally pissed. He is degenerating into an akuma, feeding off his hatred of what was done to him by the Order and by Kanda.



Most of this was one long fight scene between Alma, Kanda and Allen and its apparent that one of the reasons the Earl wants this fight as it’s forcing Allen’s hidden nature as the fourteenth Noah to emerge, which could destroy Allen for good. And that’s about all I got out of it. I’m not even sure what happened in the end and I wouldn’t want to spoil it with what I think it happening.



It was honestly confusing and long fight scenes don’t interest me so I didn’t enjoy this volume as much as others. The art has really changed since the beginning. It’s much lovelier than the start of the series but the strange coloration issues (I wasn’t sure if they were meant to indicate something or not) were distracting. Kanda and Allen have gotten so pretty I almost didn’t recognize them. Some of the fight scenes were wonderfully rendered. I just wish the storyline had been tighter. It really needed editing (then again you’re never sure just how much of these sorts of issues are because of the translation problems)





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Tags: horror, manga, urban fantasy, young adult
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