Blame it on Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas, but I love to cross holidays and switch traditions around. Sun bathing on Thanksgiving, cookie baking for St. Patrick’s day, Edward Gorey-inspired Valentines–changing things up can make for a more memorable holiday.
Three years ago I finished Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book right before Christmas and shared it with my family, starting a new tradition of giving spooky reads as gifts. This year I’m passing on Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.
Cas Lowood is a modern-day ghost hunter, but please, no Ghostbusters jokes. What he does is serious and sometimes deadly business. He picked up the family business after his father’s deadly encounter with a violent ghost. Now Cas and his mom travel hunting ghosts and sending them to wherever it is ghosts go when he kills them, again, with his father’s knife. They set up in Thunder Bay, Ontario after receiving a tip that an extremely violent spirit has killed over fifty people. Known only as Anna Dressed in Blood, after the blood soaked, white party dress she’s seen wearing, Cas may have finally met his match. Anna is like no other ghost he’s hunted with a dark mystery and allure that makes him question what he knows about the spiritual world. Add in the extra complication of his new school friends who find out his secret and insist on helping send Anna to the afterlife. Cas is torn between doing what he always has–killing the ghost and moving on–or staying to figure out Anna’s secret.
Part “Supernatural,” part “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (complete with a Scooby gang), and part every horrible ghost story you’ve ever heard, Anna Dressed in Blood is a great read with lots of action, tons of gore and enough hope to make you believe in peace on earth and goodwill toward men (and ghosts).
— Amanda Margis, reading Across the Great Barrier by Patricia Wrede and listening to The Magicians by Lev Grossman