Tag Archives: ghosts

Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

anna dressed in blood

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a baby back bitch when it comes to scary movies. I can watch one heinous thing and it haunts me for years. Scary books on the other hand… I love. I guess it’s because I feel more in control. Nothing can jump and go RAWWWWRRR in my face, so I feel better about it. On the other hand, since books and words and stories are played out in your mind… they can have a much more all-encompassing effect when they’re creeptastic.

Hence why I was interested in Anna Dressed in Blood and its sequel, Girl of Nightmares. Our protagonist Theseus Cassio Lowood (or “Cas” for short) is a ghost hunter. And no, not the Discovery-Channel-night-vision-camera-*bump*-AHHHWHATWASTHAT?? kind either. After his ghost-hunting father’s untimely demise, Cas is handed the power and responsibility of the athame–a dagger that can “kill” the dead. Or at least send them back to wherever they came from.

Loner Cas gets more than he bargains for when he moves to Canada with his mom to find “Anna Dressed in Blood”–a 50 years slain girl who haunts her old house and has a very high body count. It’s up to him and his new pals to stop Anna before she goes too far. But Anna is not what she seems. And strange signs start to lead Cas to believe that his father’s murderer is somewhere nearby… OOooooOOOoooOOOooo

Girl of Nightmares brings us back to Cas and company, and this time his mission is to help save Anna. Hmm…

These were very disappointing books. You’d think that when a book cover says “Stephen King better start looking over his shoulder” it would mean something. I hear that statement and start gleefully rubbing my hands together. Nope. If you are looking for a wise-cracking and very trendy narrator (very similar to a teenage version of the Dresden Files but without the likeability) then look no further.

I’m not saying I hated Cas, but it’s strange to see Facebook and “pwned” referenced in a book. I think Blake’s attempt at casual teen speak was a little too casual, and it made me dislike the characters. Cas was too cocky. And (OF COURSE) there has got to be some love interest crap going on. I didn’t like how out-of-left-field and instantaneous Cas’ feelings were. I didn’t understand it at all. Blegh. The whole thing was just blegh.

Do you guys know of any good books that will actually scare me?

2 bloodstains of 5

 


Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman

It goes without saying that Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors of all time. I read all of her work that I can get my hands on–some of you may remember my recent review of The Dovekeepers, which is Hoffman’s latest (and some argue, greatest) novel. Skylight Confessions has absolutely nothing in common with the sweeping epic that is The Dovekeepers, however it most certainly hearkens back to Hoffman’s younger voice. While not quite as developed as some of her other stories (and nowhere near as prosaic and powerful as Practical Magic) it was an enjoyable tale nonetheless.

“Real love, after all, was worth the price you paid, however briefly it might last.”

Skylight Confessions told a story spanning several different lives and several generations. It starts with the love story of John Moody and Arlyn Singer–the destinies of whom both change forever when John takes a wrong turn one night and falls in love (or something like it) with the wrong girl. The book follows the life and death of many of the characters, including John and Arlyn’s children(one heroin-addicted, one perfect), the man Arlyn loves, the neighbor John falls in love with, and the strange woman who follows a ghost to the Moody’s glass house. Some pretty intense stuff, that’s for sure. Look out for heavy doses of symbolism, portrayed by a string of pearls Arlyn’s lover gives her, stones that seem to be everywhere, flight/feathers/wings, and ashes wherever a haunted presence is known. This book delves into a very fucked up family situation–with a lot of tragedy–but still manages not to come across as preachy or unduly emotional.

While this is nowhere even close to being Hoffman’s best novel–or even my favorite–it is still quite poignant. I like how she explores the intricacies of the human experience in her books, and always does a great job illustrating the tiny things/events/times that thread us all together. Life is not always so simple, so black and white. While Skylight Confessions wouldn’t be the first book of hers that I’d think to recommend, it’s a must read for any die-hard Hoffman fan.

3 family secrets out of 5


Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl & Po was a really cute book by Lauren Oliver. The author’s voice greatly reminded me of Kate DiCamillo’s in The Tale of Despereaux. Perfidy. Ineffable. Tee hee.

L&P told the story of Liesl, a recently orphaned little girl who had spent the last couple of years locked in the attic by her evil stepmother after her father’s untimely (and suspicious) demise. A ghost named Po and it’s (ghosts have no gender) ghost pet a cat/dog (animals forget what they were too), Bundle appear to Liesl one night. They help her escape the attic and embark on an incredible journey, involving an alchemist, a foreign princess, a thief, a dim-witted guard, her father’s ashes, and the greatest magic in the whole world. Not to mention her new friend Will (the alchemist’s much abused young apprentice), who has been admiring her from afar for months. 

This story was really adorable, and Oliver’s language was crisp and concise. She said that she wrote this book as a personal catharsis after the death of a close friend. I enjoyed her portrayal of the afterlife–how things seemed to just blur together, and how trivial tidbits, like one’s gender and species, are soon forgotten. This book, like Holes by Louis Sachar, introduce many different elements and characters, yet somehow ties them all together in the end.

I would recommend this book for any child dealing with the loss of a parent, or even as a teaching tool to give them a gentle perspective on death. Liesl & Po reminds us that death is nothing but a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

3.5 of 5 stars