Anna Dressed in Blood — "Anna Dressed in Blood" Series
This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Anna Dressed in Blood” series.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
While Theseus Cassio (Cas) Lowood may look like an ordinary 17-year-old, his life is anything but normal. Like his father and ancestors before him, Cas kills ghosts. Along with his mother, an herbal witch, Cas travels the country hunting for dangerous spirits who need to be put to rest for good. One such spirit killed his father, and Cas intends to avenge his dad someday. He uses his father’s special blade, called an athame, to send the dead away permanently.
On a tip, Cas and his mom move to Thunder Bay, Ontario, to kill a ghost named Anna Korlov. The locals know her as Anna Dressed in Blood. Murdered more than five decades earlier as a teen, Anna has been blamed for numerous deaths in the years since.
Cas and his mom, along with their spirit-sensitive cat, settle in. Cas starts school and strategically makes friends with the Queen Bee, a girl named Carmel Jones. He’s certain she’ll know all of the important town lore and be able to lead him to Anna. Carmel’s jealous ex-boyfriend, Mike, and his jock friends, Will and Chase, immediately dislike Cas. When Cas attends a party in the woods with Carmel, he hopes he can get Mike and friends to take him to Anna. He plays the naïve new kid as they tell him stories about the ghost. Then they take him to the house where Anna died.
Mike and Cas enter the house and see Anna’s ghost almost immediately. She’s wearing the white dress she supposedly wore to a dance the night she was killed. Blood drips from it, making it crimson. In a rage, she rips Mike in half. Cas escapes. He, Carmel, Will and Chase try to come up with a story to tell the police when Mike shows up missing.
A nerdy clairvoyant teen named Thomas befriends Cas, saying he wants to help him kill Anna. Thomas annoys Cas at first, but Thomas is able to provide some good information with the help of his voodoo-savvy grandfather Morfran. Cas initially refers to Anna as the goddess of death.
He returns to the house and talks to Anna, who appears in the form of a peaceful girl. They have a pleasant conversation, and he realizes she doesn’t want to kill but can’t help it. He can also tell there is something in her past too painful for her to share. Whatever it is, it’s something he will need to know in order to kill her.
A few days later, Cas, Carmel Thomas and Will enter the house and cast a containment spell. Once Anna is contained, they ask her to tell them about her past. She helps them willingly, and her story plays out before them in graphic detail. They see her mother and step-father-to-be, who wants Anna for his own sexual purposes. Anna appears in a white dress and says she’s going to a dance at school. Her mother calls her a whore and eventually slits her throat with a knife. The teens discover Anna’s mother was a witch. The woman casts a spell, preventing Anna from leaving the house, even in death.
Anna is weak after reliving the horror of her own murder. Will insists they kill her, but Cas and the others feel sympathy for the ghost. The kids’ spell seems to set Anna free, allowing her to appear to them as an innocent young girl rather than a powerful, terrifying murderer. Cas and the others are unsure whether to trust the transformation, not knowing if it is real or if Anna is tricking them into a false sense of security.
Will says he will do the killing himself and steals Cas’ father’s knife. Cas, Thomas and Carmel try to figure out a plan to steal it back from Will. Cas has been to visit Anna alone a few times, and the two begin developing a bond. Anna can now leave the house. Cas wants to believe that Anna is no longer a danger to others, but he becomes less certain when the police find a dismembered body in town.
Inside of Anna’s house, Cas and Thomas find Will and Chase dead and eaten. The bite marks are the same as those found on Cas’ father’s body. Cas and Thomas initially question Anna, but they realize she did not do this. They learn the dismembered body found by the police was also eaten.
Cas tells the others that he has been having horrible nightmares recently. They enlist the help of Morfran, who explains that Cas has been cursed by a powerful form of voodoo called Obeah. The spirit who killed Cas’ dad, an Obeahman, has been stalking Cas. By eating Cas’ father, the spirit acquired the father’s power.
Anna, Cas, Thomas, Carmel, Morfran and Cas’ mom work together to bait a trap for the Obeahman. Cas tells Anna he will have to cut her to trick the Obeahman and lure him to her house. Anna is more than willing to help Cas, even if she doesn’t survive the final battle. Cas and Anna kiss, and Cas vows to do whatever he can to keep Anna safe. In the end, only Anna can save the mortals from the Obeahman. She sacrifices herself for them, and her spirit is extinguished in the process. In the epilogue, Cas indicates to Thomas that he may stay in Thunder Bay and have Thomas and Carmel help him find out where Anna went.
Other Belief Systems
Thomas and other characters have the ability to read minds and communicate telepathically. Cas’ Wiccan mom is an herbal witch who sells occult products for a living. She does tarot card readings and aura cleansings.
The group uses items such as pentagrams, chicken feet and a scrying bowl as they create spells to bind spirits. Cas contends that the symbol of the pentagram isn’t inherently good or evil since it has no will of its own. Cas and his mom do ritual burnings of items belonging to the past owners of the house, and the cat can sense ghostly spirits in their house.
Anna’s mother calls on the power of a demon god to keep Anna’s spirit trapped in the house. Cas receives ghost-hunting requests when people go missing in a Satanic church in Northern Italy and when animals are sacrificed near an Ojibwe burial mound. Cas’ contacts include people who were in his dad’s coven.
Cas once mentions Anna standing in a Christ-like pose. She later dies so that Cas can survive. Anna calls Cas her salvation, her way to atone and pay for all she’s done. Thomas says he can tell how Cas feels about Anna by the aura that surrounds him.
Morfan practices voodoo and explains to Cas that it is about channeling power. He later discovers Cas has been cursed by an Obeahman who practices a powerful type of voodoo in which the practitioner becomes power. The Obeahman is the one who ate Cas’ father. In doing so, he took Cas’ dad’s power into himself and linked himself with Cas’ father’s knife.
Cas discovers that he hasn’t been putting the dead to rest when he kills them. Rather, they’ve been feeding the Obeahman. If Cas can’t stop the Obeahman’s spell, Cas’ organs will shut down and he will die.
The Lord’s name is used in vain frequently in various forms. The f-word and others words, such as d--n, s---, p---y, douche, whore,a--, crap, p---, b--ch, screw, nuts (referring to genitals), butt and h---, often appear. While discussing his thoughts about love and death, Cas calls himself a psychiatrist’s wet dream.
Numerous brutal, gory murders occur or are recalled in the text. Cas’ father was killed by a spirit who ate chunks of the man’s flesh. A man is murdered the same way in Thunder Bay. Anna tears Mike in half, and his dismembered spirit later talks to Cas. Anna has torn apart many other bodies in a similarly brutal fashion. Anna’s mother slits her throat, a scene that is replayed for Cas and his friends when they do a spell in Anna’s house. Her mother’s boyfriend slaps and yells at Anna while her mother watches with pleasure. Blood bubbles up from Anna’s skin and spills down her body, dripping onto the floor.
The still-conscious, mucus-covered corpses of Anna’s many victims stink and are eaten by bugs in the basement of her house. Other corpses with rotting, severed flesh are described in gory detail as well. The ghost that killed Cas’ dad eats Cas’ cat. Characters recall stories of bloody stabbings, throat slittings, people hanging themselves and people pushing others down stairs. Mike slams Cas over the head with a board. Cas has intense hand-to-hand fights with spirits.
A ghost story includes two kids making out. Carmel provides an alibi for Cas by telling people she’s meeting him for romantic reasons. Anna alludes to the fact that the man to whom her mother was engaged was actually making sexual advances toward her. Anna’s mother calls her a whore and says no man will take her if she lets schoolboys lift her skirts. Cas and Anna kiss a few times.
Parent Note: Rules/Authority: The kids lie to the police about murders they witnessed. Cas, Carmel and Thomas skip school several times.
Drinking: Underage kids drink at a party. Cas isn’t much of a drinker, but he has a few beers to fit in at the party. Carmel tells Cas a drunk driver killed Thomas’ parents.
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