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Book Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

 

Young Adult Book Review

Book Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie AlenderThe Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
Published: August 25th 2015 by Point
Format: Paper Book
Length: 329 pages
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…

Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.

And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.

But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.

From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

It’s unusual for me to hand out a 5 star rating this early in the year. I waffled about perhaps giving this a 4 star rating but the single, tiny problem I have with the book is hardly worth dropping the rating. I won a copy of The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender during a Thanksgiving giveaway. It took a while to arrive and then I put it aside for other books. I wish I hadn’t. I ended up loving it completely. I’ve always toyed with the idea of a ghost story told from the view point of the ghost and I guess Alender beat me to the punch.

I’ve read through some other reviews of The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall and the main complaint I see is that is wasn’t spooky or scary enough. While I did find this to be true, it didn’t detract from the book for me. I love the paranormal. Seeing a ghost story from the other end was more than entertaining enough for me, even without a high creep factor. I found it fascinating reading about Delia’s experiences as a newly made ghost. Some might find this part slow or uninteresting as Delia learns the rules of her new existence, like walking through walls and picking things up, but I loved it. I found the details of the other occupants of Hysteria Hall incredible and while I could see how things would end, it made sense and felt right. It was everything I wanted out of a ghost story.

I loved the characters. All the ghosts stuck in the hall were fascinating and I felt like Delia and her family were real and solid. (I made a pun!) People who enjoy family angst in their books will like this. Those who are interested in unconventional ghost stories will like this. Those looking for a new take on ghost stories will like this. This isn’t a horror book, even with the ghostly theme. There aren’t enough chills and thrills for that. The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender is, however, thoroughly entertaining. My single, tiny problem with it is the so-called romance angle. Theo is stuck outside the hall and he and Delia spend one day together but that is apparently enough for him to kiss her and profess his feelings before the ending. It just felt unnecessary and sort of tacked on there because, obviously, it’s not a proper young adult book without some teenage romance. (eye roll) That was my only gripe.

Thank you for reading!

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Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Young Adult tag pic.Book Review for Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published: October 6th 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Paper Book
Length: 522 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, GLBT, Paranormal, Magic
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

I am unbelievably torn with Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. On one hand, I adore fanfiction. I read fanfiction and I write it. For me, the Simon Snow fanfiction bits of Fangirl were the bright spots among what turned out to be a rather slow and boring book. So when Rainbow Rowell announced she was going to write a proper book using the Simon Snow characters and world we caught little glances of in Fangirl, I was super excited. I wasn’t even put off by the 522 page count. But then I eagerly cracked my new copy of Carry On open and my heart sank. Rainbow Rowell had committed one of my biggest peeves; the changing POV. Every chapter, and sometimes ‘chapters’ were a couple of sentences long, was told from a different character’s point of view. I almost threw the book out the window. No. Just, no.

I’m not fond of first person narrative either. Add in the changing POV and I was incredibly annoyed. Each chapter would backtrack to retell the events that had just happened from another character’s point of view. So, we were getting each scene from a different person two or three times depending on who was there. Redundant and pointless. The length of the book was starting to make sense. I was about ready to pull my hair out. But, I’m a dedicated fanfiction shipper and I pushed through and read the whole book. (I don’t know why some person, an editor or proofreader, didn’t point out how much people dislike first person narrative and changing POV. They’re the number one and two criticisms on fanfiction or books in general. Why, Rainbow!? Why!?)

Being a fangirl and shipper often means that you are willing to read utter crap as long as it has your fandom and the characters you like. You have to wade through a lot of mediocrity to find those hidden gems in fanfiction. I’m used to it but I was disappointed to find it in a proper published book. If Rainbow’s goal in writing Carry On was to keep the fanfiction feel of the story, she accomplished that. But she accomplished it by keeping the worst traits of fanfiction, the stuff I personally have to look past to be able to enjoy a story. References to events before this book, in earlier school years, are sprinkled around the book and since we have no way to read those earlier books, this is just madness inducing. The plot was a bit muddled and could be confusing in places. It is also slow and meandering in the first half and a little rushed in the second half. The magic system is very creative and the details of Simon’s past and how the Insidious Humdrum was created are fantastic. In all, I loved the story and the characters of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell but the manner it was written in was not my cup of tea.

Thank you for reading!

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Haunted Hospice and Other Phone Conversations with my Quirky Best Friend

I should be waiting to post this in October or something but I find it interesting and wanted to share. My friend Krystal and I share a religion and a practice. That is, we’re both Pagans and witches. Now, I’ve known Krystal since high school and every place she has ever lived in has been haunted. Her childhood home? A creepy ass and messed up haunted. Her apartment in University City? Haunted by a spirit she called her Gentlemen Caller and the only spirit I’ve ever seen personally. Her mother’s house, which used to be her grandparents’ house, and in which she crashed for a few months last year? Haunted by family members and I have pictures from a Halloween party with orbs in them to prove it. The house she rents now? Haunted by at least one spirit and seemingly collected more.

ghosts_duo

You see, I may be as sensitive as a brick (and I like it that way) but Krystal just seems to jive in a way that just attracts things. When we were unpacking her things in her new house earlier this year we had shadows, noises, and crazy reactions by her cats. Her house has weight to it, if you get my meaning. We know of at least one spirit in that house (a male, Krystal insists, although I can’t tell) but it appears as if she is collecting more. She had been gone the last two weeks, off attending an airshow and camping fest, and I had been cat sitting for a couple of days. Everything was fine for me but when she came back yesterday I get a text asking if anything had happened while I was over there. Apparently, she was catching a vibe she wasn’t familiar with.

Of course, 99.9% of the time her house just feels like a house to me, so I didn’t have anything to say. She saged the house just to make sure. (Saging is where you light some sage so that it smolders. The smoke is supposed to drive away negative spirits and clear the air of bad energy.) We yak a bit and I’m deciding whether I should paint my nails when I get a text from Krystal telling me the top of her cocktail shaker just flew off by itself and what the hell did I let into her house?! Like I would know! I’m the blind and deaf one in this friendship. So she does some pendulum divination to find out who or what is in her home now. (A pendulum is a weight at the end of a cord. You hold it up in the air as still as you can and supposedly whoever or whatever can answer yes or no questions by swinging it one way or the other.)

So, Krystal has another spirit in her house. A male, who doesn’t know where he is, and is apparently quite frightened. Krystal reassured him, saying her house was a safe place, telling him the address, introducing her cats, and generally just comforting the spirit as much as she can. She ran through the alphabet for a name, got E B E T, asked if this was his first or last name and was told it was his last name. At this point Krystal said the pendulum was kind of trembling and moving in circles. So she asked if the spirit was tired and if he would like to stop for the evening. He said yes and Krystal ended it and called me up to blow my mind with crazy spirit communication because she is apparently running a halfway house for the dead. Spirits just kind of end up around her, for some reason. How she can sleep in that house now, I have no idea. I had to leave my light on in my bedroom and that was just with hearing about it secondhand! I’m a big old scaredy cat, so that’s no surprise. Better her than me. I’d be calling Ghost Busters by now.

Thank you for reading!

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Book Review: Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman

vintageVintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
Published January 5th 2008 by Lethe Press
Format: Kindle ebook
Length: 204 pages / 317 KB
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Ghost, M/M
Reading Level: Mature Teen
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A lonely boy walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road. Awkward crushes, both bitter and sweet, lead him to face youthful dreams and childish fears. With its cast of offbeat friends, antiques, and Ouija boards, Vintage is not your typical romance but does offers readers a memorable blend of dark humor, chills and love.

I love ghost stories and paranormal fiction is one of my favorite genres. Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman is a classic ghost story with added nontraditional relationship. Our main character is never named in the book, not that I can find, so it makes my review writing a little hard. Be patient. Main character (MC) is dealing with a lot in this book, from his parents’ reaction to him being gay to a ghostly romance that’s turning out to not be all that great after all. I have to give kudos to Berman for creating a complex romance that had a completely unexpected ending. With a cast of awesome secondary characters and excellent paranormal themes, Vintage turned out to be an even better book than I was anticipating.

In paranormal fiction, characters often gain the ability to see ghosts after brushes with death. (Trigger warning: attempted suicide spoken about in past tense.) This happens to our MC, opening up an opportunity to meet the ghostly boy of his dreams. But Josh, the ghost, turns out to be a little too good to be true. I have to say, I expected our MC and Josh to somehow overcome all obstacles to be together. (How cliché.) So the path Berman selected was a thousand times better in my opinion. The complex relationships in this book were unexpected and I feel propel Vintage to a level above.

All the characters are exceptionally well-written and I am so pleased to find a book with a gay teen character so well done. My only problem is that the MC ends up starting a relationship with the younger brother of his best friend and while I know there is only two years difference between them, it still weirds me out. The end conflict resolution with Josh, the ghost, feels a bit rushed to me and a bit too neatly tied up, if you know what I mean. I would have liked to see a bit more struggle there. The portrayals of mediumistic powers and paranormal events in Vintage are fantastic and exciting. This book is definitely for older teens and adults due to drug use, sexual scenes, and a great many messed up people and their weird coping mechanisms. Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman is in turns fun, suspenseful, and exciting and I really recommend it for anybody looking for a great ghost story.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thank you for reading!

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Published June 21st 2011 by Walker Childrens
Length: 342 pages
Genre: Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Reading Level: 12 & Up
ISBN 080279839X (ISBN13: 9780802798398)
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Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

This October seems to be full of ghosts and mediums. I have a thing for the paranormal and my DVR is full of Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Witness episodes. Halloween is a yearlong thing for me. Young adult books and authors are more than happy to feed my obsession with the paranormal. There are no shortage of YA books that deal with ghosts and ghouls. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey is one such book.

Haunting Violet is not a completely original idea, as plots go, but it is an enjoyable story. Violet herself is a great character. Colin is okay. The fledgling love between them is bearable. I’m rarely wowed by the love aspect of most YA books and while Violet and Colin succeed in not annoying me, I feel the book would have been just as good without it. It always confuses me that YA authors insist on having some sort of love story happening in their books and often one that really doesn’t make sense. Violet and Colin grew up together, shocking each other with spiders in their shoes and frogs in their beds, but now that they are teenagers, they are suddenly in love. I don’t think two people who grew up as sister and brother suddenly fall into romance love. It’s a little “ew” worthy, when you think about it.

Haunting Violet is set in Victorian times but I don’t get that type of vibe from the story. The only part that truly seems Victorian is the huge class distinctions, very upstairs/downstairs. Violet herself seems like a very modern girl and I can’t accept her being low born as the reason she is so capable and sensible. She’s very different from Elizabeth and Tabitha and even her own mother. Violet has a 21st century type of voice and tone that just doesn’t fit with the supposed Victorian setting. It’s hard to believe she’s only 16 years old in the book either. I thought she was at least in her early 20’s before the book revealed differently. Haunting Violet is a murder mystery but the murderer is obvious and even clichéd. The plot is classic ghost story, so don’t expect any surprises, but while the end result is unremarkable, the journey there is pleasant.

Looking at all I just wrote you’d think I didn’t like the book! But you have to remember that while the plot in Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey has been done before; it’s still well-written with likeable characters and is very entertaining. It’s a good book but just with a common story. The situation between Violet and her mother is interesting and it’s great getting a look into Victorian con practices. I’m a bit of a history buff and the height of the paranormal craze during Victorian times is fascinating. Haunting Violet won’t shock you with anything new but it’s still a good ghost story to read on a chilly autumn night.

Rating: 4 out 5

Book Review: Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe
Published September 15th 2009 by Henry Holt and Co.
Length: 241 pages
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Ghosts, Romance
Reading Level: Pre-Teen & Up
ISBN 0805089306 (ISBN 13: 9780805089301)
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Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody…and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.

But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.

As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life, she’s surprised to realize he’s not so bad—and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance…

Memories of high school, even 10 years removed, still have the power to make me want to hide in the corner and gibber. Hell is other people and teenagers are just the devil in disguise. I saw another book blog review Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe earlier this year and thought it would make an appropriate read for October and Halloween. There are no real spooks in this book and it’s more about people than the paranormal. Give Up the Ghost is a look at grief and how teens handle death. It’s also a looks at the society of children and high school. The careless cruelty of the teens in this book makes me nauseous.

I had a ‘friend’ in high school much like the character of Danielle. She was sweet as pie until you crossed her and then she was as sharp as a knife. This ‘friend’ was exhausting to be around and I was more than a little glad when college started and I could be rid of her and her drama. Her behavior forced more than one wedge between what had been a good group of friends. Give Up the Ghost shows us the effects of bullying and just how all-encompassing it can be. All it took was some spiteful words from Danielle and Cass’ whole life was upset, isolating her from her peers. We are shown death, grief, and just how unequipped teenagers are to handle it. The loss of his mother and the hope that she was somehow not really gone sent Tim spiraling down into destructive behavior. Finding out that Cass could talk to ghosts only made it worse for Tim, having a connection to his deceased mother but not really being able to reach her himself. Perhaps it would have been better if Tim had never learned of Cass’ abilities.

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe is short and leaves several questions unanswered. We are never told why Tim’s mother decides to leave him and we never learn why Cass’ sister, Paige, has remained after her death or why she was the first spirit Cass could see and talk to. There are several little plot points left hanging and that’s a bit frustrating for readers. This is a simple story that deals with some hard topics. Death, grief, bullying, and thoughts and even, I’d go so far as to say, attempted suicide is dealt with. Cass’ abilities to see and speak with ghosts offers her one last chance to connect with another person, a person that is hurting just as much as she is. Give Up the Ghost feels unfinished. We are only presented with the limited information Cass has and that leaves several things a mystery. I enjoyed it but feel Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe could have been more complete.

(Also, Cass = Cassandra = I see what you did there, miss author.)

Rating: 3.5 out 5

Guest Post – Kasia James (A Little Spook)

I am intensely pleased to welcome my first guest poster. Please give a warm welcome to Kasia James, who was kind enough to lend her writing skills to creating a spooky short story for our Halloween enjoyment.

Celine stood back and admired her new home with pleasure. Even though the suburb was new, with concrete still raw and the trees mere saplings, her house already looked grounded and settled in its new location. A grand old oak tree, once the shelter of sheep, now graced her back garden. Russet leaves tumbled from the branches, coating the shingled roof like a welcoming blanket.

She had found the house about a hundred miles away, and had immediately fallen in love with its stately Victorian lines and pointed gothic windows. The town it had formerly occupied had been abandoned for decades, the swamp creeping closer each year. Celine had bought the house for a song, glad to rescue it from decay. She had borne long weeks of preparation for the move with impatience, but finally it had been sliced from its footings, trucked across the prairie, and resettled safe from damp on its new concrete slab.

Mounting the front steps for the first time, her weight made the timber creak, and she paused, caressing the timber balustrade. The light caught a small mark carved into one step, and she bent down to examine it. Beneath the pale grey paintwork, it looked like a child had carved their name. ‘CASSY’, or was it ‘CARRY’?

Abruptly, from within the house, a phone rang, echoing through the empty rooms. Instinctively, Celine straightened up and rushed inside, following the sound. In an alcove under the stairs, she found an old-fashioned telephone, still miraculously in place after the disruption of the move. She frowned. No-one knew her number yet. Maybe it was a test, or a wrong number? Tentatively, she picked up the receiver. It smelt of mold and dust.

‘Hello?’ There was a strange fluttering sound, and perhaps the sound of water dripping. ‘Hello?’ she repeated, ‘Is anyone there?’

Quietly, she heard someone clear their throat, as if they had not spoken for a long time.

‘Who’s there?’ she asked again. Her fingers traced along the fiber-wrapped telephone cable absently as she stained to listen.

‘It’s Cassy,’ a child’s voice replied, very quietly, and Celine thought she heard a sob above the faint trickle of water.

‘Hi Cassy. Where are you calling from?’ asked Celine anxiously. Celine’s fingers reached the end of the phone cable, which disappeared into a hole in the timber cladding.

‘I’m in the cellar,’ whispered the child. ‘Please help me, I’m cold.’

Celine gave a tug on the phone cable, and it came away. The end was frayed and tattered. She stared at it in horror. She could still hear the whispering on the other end of the line. ‘This house doesn’t have a cellar,’ she cried, her voice rising in panic.

There was a long pause, and Celine felt her heart pounding behind her ribs. Eventually, the child’s voice came back, as faint as breath on a cobweb. ‘It used to….It used to…’

Author Bio: “Kasia James writes primarily science fiction, with forays into other slightly unreal realities, and is the author of ‘The Artemis Effect’. She also has several short stories published an available on the Ether Books app. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with a hydrologist and a big black cat called George.”

Visit her at:
Blog: Writer’s Block
Twitter: @KasiaJames

Also, check out her book!

Three comfortable lives are shattered when a wave of inexplicable events exposes the fragility of human society. With an unprecedented celestial phenomenon, devastating high tides, a breakdown in global communication networks, and the sudden appearance of violent ring-gangs swarming through cities and towns, Kimberley, Scott and Bryn struggle to understand the vast events unfolding around them. Will they survive the Artemis Effect? Will they discover the truth behind the collapse of society before it’s too late?

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Thank you so much for joining us!

things that go bump in the night …. or meow, as the case may be. my ghost story.

I will readily admit that I am as sensitive as a brick and like it that way but even I have a good number of spooky stories to share. First of all, I believe in ghosts. It’s kind of hard to be a Pagan and a witch and not believe in ghosts. The paranormal just creeps in and one learns to sort of go with the flow. My first brush with the paranormal was when I was young and I just knew there was something not right about my grandparents’ basement. It was a perfectly normal finished basement but even as I grew older and more rational I could not make myself feel anything other than uncomfortable and watched in that basement. It did not help that when my grandmother died I often had dreams where we’d be at the house and she’d suddenly turn to me and tell me I wasn’t dreaming. Of course, this always woke me.

In my parents’ house something would often walk down the hallway during both the day and the night. It was loud enough that we would often get up to check to see if a family member had come home. When my mother retired and was home all day she would often experience this and would walk into the living room to see if my father or I had come home early or something. We never were. I’m rather of the impression that we were in the way of something’s path and it was just passing through. My best friend used to have an apartment in a building built in the 1940’s and professed to have a ghost she called her ‘gentlemen caller’ for the fact that she could feel him leave when she undressed or showered. Last year after a night out we were crashing at her place and I was sleeping on the bed when I woke and stared toward the open doorway. Standing there was a large shadow, tall and wide in the shoulders. I knew it was only us three girls in the apartment and my friend had often spoken about her ghost. I stared for over a minute at this shadow as it gently swayed in the doorway. I’m rather proud of the fact that all I did was roll over and go back to sleep. That was the first time I had ever actually seen something.

About three years ago my cat, Little Bit, was diagnosed with an incurable disease and had to be put down. She was a grey cat and almost immediately after her passing I would see grey shadows out of the corner of my eye. I would hear meows when I was holding my other cat, Boots, and know the sound wasn’t coming from her. During the night, I would be woken by the sensation of a cat jumping up on my bed and bouncing across my legs but my door was closed. Both my parents and I slept with our doors closed because the cats would often disturb us if we left them open. My mother professed to having the same thing happen to her. In the sixth sense that pet owners often have, we would stop walking and look down just because we knew a cat was around our feet only to find nothing there. Both my mother and my father have said they often will glance down the hallway from the living room sofa and swear to seeing Little Bit poking her head out of the master bedroom. When I moved, I took Boots with me and when she died last spring I started seeing black shadows (Boots was a tuxedo cat) out of the corner of my eye and also had the sensation of a pet jumping up on my bed at night. I would also be startled awake by the sensation of fur and whiskers on my cheek and the sound of sniffing in my ear. (Dear departed kitty or not, I did not enjoy that one much.)

Whether you think ghosts are a giant crock or that the souls of the once living really do come back, I can’t deny the things that have happened to me. I don’t seek these things out and I really don’t want to meet a ghost but my belief system and religious practices means that I often come in contact with what can be termed as the paranormal. Perhaps I am casting circle and can feel the deity’s presence or I’m walking by an old building and just get a chill. The old places of the world just have a weight to them. But I know that these things are just out of view, on the other side of the veil. Sometimes we come in contact.

What about you? Ever seen a ghost?

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

I love a good spook story. I’m not much into horror and gore, even in a book it just makes me nauseous. But I adore the paranormal genre and love ghost stories. That’s why I had to pick up Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Well, that and people have been raving about the book ever since it came out in the autumn last year. I can certainly see why! I really enjoyed this book and, for now, it is my favorite book of 2012.

Cas Lowood inherited an unusual vocation from his father: he kills the dead. Cas and his kitchen-witch mother travel the country with their spirit-sniffing cat to seek out those unruly ghosts and ghouls that trouble the living. When Cas travels to Thunder Bay, Ontario in search of a local legend said to kill any person who sets foot in the house she once lived in, he thinks it’s going to be a normal hunt. But when he ends up in the path of Anna Dressed in Blood without his mysterious and dangerous athame to protect him, Cas expects to end up dead himself. But Anna, for some reason, spares him. With his newfound friends, Cas will have to unravel the mystery of Anna Dressed in Blood and confront his past, including the death of his father.

Anna Dressed in Blood turned out to be everything people were gushing about in their reviews. It’s an awesome story and blew me away. On the surface it looks like a simple, really well-written ghost story but underneath that we have layers of events that turn this simple ghost story into something truly fantastic. I enjoyed all the characters, even the token defenseless but surprisingly necessary girl character. (Although, I have trouble taking people with ridiculous names seriously and with a name like Carmel, you might as well tattoo ‘hooker’ across her forehead because that was all I could think about when I read her name.) The characters all drive the story.

Anna Dressed in Blood has ghosts and witches and demons woven into a story about love and redemption. It’s complex and well thought-out. I was very surprised with how well the differing elements worked together in this book. The pacing is good and it never slows down. The book never drags and the reader is never bored. I enjoyed how aware Anna was, so unlike the other ghosts Cas had encountered. None of the characters annoy me and nobody suffers from ‘too stupid to live’ syndrome. It’s hard to write reviews for truly good books because I have nothing to nitpick and I’m trying not to sound like I want to marry this book and have its little book babies. (Which I sort of do.)

Anna Dressed in Blood is the best book I’ve read this year so far. Anybody looking for an exceptional paranormal story will love this book. Whenever I read a paranormal story, I always feel as if I’m reading something that is a little silly. I can’t quite believe in it. But with Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake the elements of the book are so well put together and everything just flows in a way that makes this a true treasure to read. The sequel, Girl of Nightmares, comes out on August 7th, 2012.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Published August 30th 2011 by Tor Teen
316 pages
First in a series

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