Audio Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake


October 22, 2012 by Heidi

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare BlakeTitle: Anna Dressed in Blood [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Kendare Blake [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: First in a duology (at least I think it’ll be a duology).
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Published: July 1st, 2012 by AudioGO (first published August 30th, 2011 by Tor Teen)
Format: Audiobook; 8 hrs, 42 min. Read by August Ross
Source: Sync


Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

My immediate reaction when I started listening to Anna Dressed in Blood was that this audiobook was missing a few important things:

Jesse Eisenberg

  1. Jesse Eisenberg as a narrator.  Seriously.  This is August Ross’s first audiobook narration and you can tell—it is rough.  He’s terrible at voices, I swear every female in this book sounded like an airhead valley girl, and every male sounded like a brick-headed dope, accepting for the ones that sounded like the worst stereotypes of Canadian Mounties you could imagine.  On top of which he puts emphasis in weird places, making the whole thing sound a bit like a bad William Shatner impression.  Every fiber of my being was screaming ‘if Jesse read this is would be amazeballs!’ but instead the narration kind of killed the story for me, and my affection for Cas came nowhere near my affection for Cassel, which is a shame because I think they have some similar qualities.
  2. Ruby and the bowie knife from Supernatural.A sexy brother with whom to hunt ghosts.  I mean, you hear about a kid who inherits a legacy of killing ghosts from his father who was brutally murdered by one of them, and what do you think?  That’s right, Sam and Dean Winchester.  Only here Cas falls into the comparison trap once again, because he’s not so hot, kick butt, or clever with a rapier wit and the ability to make obscure references and offer up complete meta moments on a platter leaving me giddy with enthusiasm.  I think a brother could really help in this matter.  Or at least a cooler sidekick.  I mean, he already has a ghost killing bowie knife (that is what an athame is, right?) and a hot/terrifying girlfriend—what could go wrong?
  3. Speaking of cooler side kicks, here’s another thing Anna Dressed in Blood is missing—Willow Rosenberg.  To be fair, Catie (The Readventurer) pointed this one out to me, so I guess it wasn’t in my immediate reaction, but I certainly couldn’t help but agree.  It was nice to see Cas make some friends and all, but Carmel and Thomas couldn’t really fill that hole for me (though they certainly tried).  After much analysis, I have determined that the cast of Anna Dressed In Blood is pretty much the Scooby Gang organized thusly:

The Buffy Scooby GangYes I had to superimpose Tara’s head over Oz, because even though I love Oz, I can’t deny that Tara has a lot more in common with Cas’s mom being all witchy and good and stuff.  Just think about it people, this casting works.  Though with my luck, in Girl of Nightmares Cas will get an annoying little sister out of nowhere rather than a hot brother/sidekick.  *Sigh* a girl can dream.

All in all, I really liked the story of Anna Dressed in Blood, even if I didn’t like the audio.  It verged just on the edge of being creepy (but not too creepy), was a fun premise, and was (obviously) reminiscent of some of my favorite paranormal shows without being eye-rollingly similar.  If you’re one of the few who hasn’t picked this one up already, I’m thinking now’s the time—it’s the perfect October read.

Oh! And go check out this awesome photo over at The Real Fauxtographer (along with the rest of her YA series), because it pretty much rocks my face off.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  Yes, certainly, but I will be reading Girl of Nightmares (which has one of my favorite covers of 2012 fyi) instead of listening.

Recommended for: I recommend the book to fans of unconventional romance, Buffy, Scooby Doo and Supernatural (obvs).  I don’t recommend the audio.

Real life repercussions of reading this book: Thomas drives a Ford Tempo!  This was my first car when I was 16.  I kind of hated it.  It was white with red interior, had automated seatbelts (which pissed my best friend off so much he disabled them), and at one point something was wrong with my driver’s side door so I had to crawl out the passenger side.  At any rate, it met its demise pretty quickly and became a lovely giant wasps’ nest thereafter.  What was your first car?

Get a second opinion:
The Nocturnal Library
The Book Rat
The Flyleaf Review
Tripping Over Books
The Booksmugglers


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  1. I got the audiobook a while back and made it through the first CD before putting it on my shelf for future generations to… well, leave there, I suppose. Jesse would have done an excellent job, you’re right.
    There’s no inflection in August Ross’ voice, it’s all just a flat line, and he bored me nearly to death.
    But the book was awesomesauce. So there’s that.

    • Heidi says:

      Well I’m glad I’m not the only one who suffered, lol. Misery loves company. I should have just stopped and moved to the print copy, but I seemed to always be listening to this one out of the house, and the story kept me going even if the narration didn’t.

  2. I do agree that Jesse Eisenberg is an excellent narrator – loved his reading of the Curseworkers series, which I could listen to every day, over and over. And I recently listened to an audiobook with a guy narrator and the way he did little girl voices almost drove me over the edge.

    Okay, I’ve been thinking about that Buffy photo for ten minutes. I get Cas as Buffy. And yes, a ton of YA books use the Giles librarian-slash-wise mentor character. I definitely see the Thomas as Xander comparison.

    Willow is a tough one because she started out in the smart-nerdy-girl-best-friend-sidekick role and ended up all scary and vengeful — Willow also has some Anna in her for sure!

    • Heidi says:

      You’re right, she does! There wasn’t really a character that fit Willow perfectly–mostly I just grouped her with Xander for Thomas because of the witch thing. She might start out as a timid side kick, but she certainly doesn’t stay that way!

  3. You are so incredibly right about the Buffy casting. I felt the exact same way. I’m not even gonna lie…I kind of wish this book had been EVEN MORE like a BtVS episode. I probably would have enjoyed it quite a bit more if it had, hahaha. I’m sorry the narrator was so blah…I’ve heard that from quite a few readers now so I know to avoid this August fella. I’ll be very interested in your take on the second book (if you read it) since we agreed about this one.

    • Heidi says:

      I agree! I know no author wants their work to be called derivative, but if this one were a bit MORE so, I think I’d have liked it more! I did finish the 2nd already actually, I just wrote this review months back before the 2nd came out. Hopefully I’ll get off my butt and write a review for it next week! I didn’t really end up liking it anymore than the first, but I did enjoy reading it.

  4. I hateee reading an audiobook where the narration sucks. It’s the worst thing ever and can be SO grating! I remember trying to read the audiobook (or listen rather) of Feed by Mira Grant and the narrator was unfortunately REALLY bad and lacked emotion, so I had to give up and read the book which was much better. Still, I’m glad you weren’t thrown off this series by the audiobook. I’m on the fence about reading this, simply because of ALL the mixed reviews and the synopsis hasn’t really…enraptured me, so I think I’ll wait to see what you think of the sequel before deciding. Wonderful review, as usual, Heidi! :)

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Keertana! Yes, audiobook narrators can really affect the book for the listener. If it’s bad, the book sucks, if they’re amazing, they can make a decent book seem great. There’s a couple of narrators I love so much I’ll listen to any book they narrate, whether I would’ve been interested otherwise or not.

      Yeah, my overall feelings about this series were that it was good, and entertaining, but I’m not in love with it. Kind of a take it or leave it series for me.

  5. […] Audio Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake Graphic Novel Review: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol YA Review: Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey Event Recap: Spooky Middle Grade Reads at Books of Wonder Retro Friday MG Review: Well Witched by Frances Hardinge Salute Your Shorts: Click Clack the Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman YA Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake Guest Review at The Book Smugglers: Dark Matter by Michelle Paver Impromptu Blackout Read-a-Thon With Bated Breath: November New Releases […]

  6. Oh! I was waiting for this series to be completed before I started it. For some reason I was thinking it was a trilogy. YAY for duologies lately! I’ll be sure to read in print or electronically via my library rather than audio. THANK YOU for that heads-up. Bad readers can ruin a story for me!

  7. […] in me very much enjoying my summer runs with books like The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake, and Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear […]

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.