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Literature / Anna Dressed in Blood

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Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter, charged with dispatching harmful spirits. When one of his regular informants gives him a tip about a murderous ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas and his housewitch mother pack up and move to Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada.

Things get messy when Anna kills one of Cas's classmates but spares him, leading him to wonder why she did it. Now finding himself with an unwanted group of teenage ghost busters desperate to help him, Cas has to stop Anna before she kills anyone else. But things aren't always what they seem...

A sequel called Girl of Nightmares was released on August 2012, and the novel may be on its way to being made into a movie.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Anna's mother and her soon-to-be stepfather.
  • Action Survivor: Carmel and Thomas by the end of the first book.
  • All Witches Have Cats: Cas's mother is Wiccan, and she has a cat that serves to "smell" ghosts; its name is Tybalt.
  • Alpha Bitch: Subverted with Carmel, who is the "queen bee" of the school, but just as sweet as her name.
  • Artifact of Doom: Strangely enough... the athame.
  • Batter Up!: Carmel brings an aluminum bat near the end of the book and whacks the Big Bad pretty good with it, even though it doesn't stick.
  • Best Served Cold: Cas has spent the last several years since his father's death trying to become a good enough ghost hunter to track down the ghost that killed his father and kill it.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: The book opens with Cas hunting this kind of ghost, the ghost of a greaser from the 1970's who was killed in a car accident he's driven to replicate.
  • Big Bad: The main antagonist of both novels is the Obeahman, the ghost that killed and ate Cas' father. Since his father's death, it's been haunting the athame and feeding off the ghosts that Cas has been killing.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Anna Taloni; Finnish for "Anna's House" in a very possessive way. The spell that Anna's mother used for her Deal with the Devil was in Finnish, as well.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: Beneath his stitched-shut eyes, the Obeahman has black sclera and yellow irises.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Whenever Anna's under the influence of the curse her eyes turn jet black and are often described as looking like two drops of oil.
  • Black Magic: Anna's mother used it to curse Anna.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Anna Dressed in Blood wears the white dress she died in—covered in her own blood.
  • Boy Meets Ghost: Even the author said is "Your typical Boy Meets Girl"... just that the girl is a murderous ghost. Very typical.
  • The Bully: Mike, who tries to leave Cas for dead in Anna's house just for hanging with Caramel, his ex-girlfriend. This backfires on him spectacularly when Anna actually shows up.
  • Cats Are Mean: Tybalt dislikes Cas and never misses a chance to scratch him. Even so, Cas is upset when the Obeahman eats Tybalt.
  • Cool Old Guy: Thomas's grandfather definitely fits.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The note Daisy sends Cas to get him to investigate Anna was written in his own blood.
  • Culture Clash: The Spanish boarder at Anna's house had a different idea of what was appropriate for a young girl to wear than Anna's Finnish mother.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Cas's attempts to slay Anna result in her handing him his ass.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Anna falls under this... when she's not under the influence of the curse, that is.
  • Cute Witch: Cas's mother, especially when she was younger.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cas. No one is particularly spared from his snark, save for his mother
  • Deal with the Devil: Anna's mother cursed her daughter by making a deal with a demon.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The cover of the first book is entirely in grayscale except for the splashes of red.
  • Disappeared Dad: Cas's father died fighting a ghost. Anna's father also died when she was younger. She makes a mention of him dying "on the lake", which might mean he drowned.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In Girl of Nightmares, Cas fantasizes about telling Anna that the Order of the Black Dagger intended to kill and replace him.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: When the Obeahman proves too much for even her, Anna tears open the portal to Hell her mother opened and drags them both in. This backfires in the sequel, as the Obeahman takes control of Hell itself and repeatedly Curb Stomp Battles her. The sequel is all about Cas's attempts to help her get out.
  • The Dreaded: Turns out those nightmares Cas has been having are thanks to the same ghost that killed his father, and is now haunting his athame.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Anna, in both murderous ghost mode and not.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Cas, whose full name is "Theseus Cassio Lowood", citing his mother's love of Shakespeare and his father's love of Greek Mythology as the sources of his unfortunate name.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Tybalt can sniff out ghosts. Dogs are apparently better at the evil-detecting department, but cats will do.
  • Friendless Background: Cas, thanks to changing schools all the time as he hunts ghosts.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Cas's informant, Rudy Bristol, who is often referred to by his nickname, Daisy.
  • Ghost Amnesia: Anna, like most other ghosts, can't really remember who killed her or the details of her death. Cas helps her remember through a spell.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Anna's mother cursed her but didn't realize that by saying Anna's spirit could never leave or have company, it inadvertently cause her to kill every person who entered the house.
  • Got Me Doing It: After all the Ghostbusters references being thrown around, Cas almost slips up and says it, but catches himself just in time.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Mike lures Cas into Anna's house and leaves him to be killed by Anna. Instead, Anna yanks Mike through the window and vertically rips him in half.
  • Haunted House: Anna's house is haunted not only by her, but the ghosts of everyone she's killed.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At the end of the first book, Anna sacrifices her existence in order to save Cas and his gang, plus his mother and Thomas's grandfather, from the same monster that killed Cas's father.
  • Heroic BSoD: Cas has a big one after seeing Will's and Chase's corpses—particularly the familiar bite marks on them.
  • Hippie Parents: Cas and Carmel both joked about this being the reason for their names. With Cas, it's mostly true.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Averted with Thomas's grandfather.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Averted with Cas, but his mother and Gideon definitely want him to be.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Cas ultimately leaves Anna in her own personal paradise, despite her wanting to return with him, because he wanted her to be happy.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: It's revealed that the Obeahman, the ghost that killed Cas' dad, draws power from people by eating them.
  • Immigrant Parents: Anna's family was originally from Finland, and the traditions of their home country are what caused the rift between Anna and her mother.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Cas and all of the people from his father's network, like Gideon.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Anna's white dress. Also all the other ghosts Cas sees and hunts.
  • Jerk Jock: Mike and his gang, who Thomas refers to as the Trojan Army.
  • Karmic Death: Mike hits Cas upside the head with a wooden plank and leaves him for dead in Anna's house, all for hanging out with his ex-girlfriend. Anna shows up, takes stock of the situation, yanks Mike through the window, and rips him in half.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The blurb for the sequel, Girl of Nightmares, reveals that Anna opened a door to Hell, that she sacrificed herself for Cas, and that Cas is in love with her.
  • Lust Object: Anna was this to her soon-to-be step father, who clearly wanted to get married to her mother just to get the right to have "all" of her, including Anna. He even lusted for Anna while smelling a piece of her white dress.
  • Meaningful Name: Tybalt, Prince of Cats who ends up dead.
  • Memento Macguffin: The athame, the knife Cas uses to kill ghosts and which used to belong to his dad. It's later revealed that while it has a power of its own, it was cursed by the ghost that killed his father, empowering him with each ghost Cas kills.
  • Mind Probe: Thomas does this to Cas on his first day, implanting the term Trojan Army in his head to refer to a group of jocks.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Mike's solution to Cas befriending his ex-girlfriend is to lure him into Anna's house, knock him out, and leave him for dead. It backfires.
  • My Beloved Smother: Anna's mother, Malvina. She probably takes the cake for going beyond her daughter's own death, and also keeps her spirit trapped in the house.
  • Names To Run Away From Very Fast: Come on, Anna's mother's name is Malvina.
  • New Transfer Student: Cas constantly goes through the routine. He transfers school regularly as he moves from place to place, hunting ghosts. He's of the Loner variety, snarky Jerkass tendencies included.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Cas, definitely. Growing up with a white witch for a mother and a ghost hunter for a father will do that to you. He finds it difficult to relate to living people, or even find them interesting. Naturally, he falls in love with Anna.
  • Non-Action Guy: Thomas, especially when compared to the Trojan Army and Cas. Carmel gets more physical then he does, thanks to her aluminum baseball bat.
  • Offing the Offspring: Anna's mother, Malvina, killed her own daughter—and then bound her daughter's spirit to the house so that she would never leave.
  • One-Winged Angel: In the sequel, the Obeahman transforms into a spider-like monster after being dragged into Hell by drawing power from all the spirits he consumed.
  • Perky Goth: Daisy, and Thomas later.
  • Plagued by Nightmares: Cas has had recurring nightmares, sometimes complete with Catapult Nightmare, and attributes it to his ghosthunting. He doesn't tell anyone, thinking that it's either to be expected, or worse, that it isn't, and Gideon and his mother will really try to get him to stop killing ghosts.
  • P.O.V. Boy, Poster Girl: The book has the name of Anna and her image is on the book, but Cas is our Deadpan Snarker of a narrator.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Thomas can get them if he does too much with his mind reading abilities.
  • Ritual Magic: Used a couple of times. First to help free Anna from the curse and also to try to get rid of the monster that killed Cas's father. In the sequel, it's used to let Cas talk to Anna and later to enter Hell to save her.
  • Secret Circleof Secrets: Cas has to deal with one for much of Girl of Nightmares, complete with blood sacrifice and the Black Cloak (which he absolutely refuses to wear). He is not very impressed.
  • Secret Society Group Picture: Cas gets a picture of a younger Gideon wearing a Black Cloak and standing with a group of identically clad individuals, all carrying replicas of his athame. In the sequel it turns out both Gideon and his father are former members of the Order of the Black Dagger, a druidic society dedicated to hunting ghosts, and they want their athame back.
  • Sequel Hook:
    Thomas: Where... where do you think she went?
    Cas: Maybe you and Carmel can help me figure it out.
    • In Girl of Nightmares, it's almost a given that the Order will forge a new athame and bond Jestine to it.
  • The Smart Guy: Will to Mike and Chase.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Split-Personality Merge: The ghost of the cop and the railroad worker. The cop personality tries to warn people away, since the railroad worker tries to murder anyone who comes too close.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Anna, when she's under the influence of the curse.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Technically, Daisy's nickname is "the Daisy", though Cas usually just calls him Daisy.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Anna's curse causes her to transform into a murderous wraith with Prehensile Hair, Black Eyes of Evil, and Tainted Veins, clad in a dress made of blood. Once the curse is lifted, Anna retains the ability to assume this form as a Super Mode.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Cas, Thomas, and Carmel are all hit with this when they find out more about Anna's past. Will, not so much.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Anna, obviously, but not by her choice. Mike also fits this trope to the t. He gets killed for it.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Anna becomes very protective towards Cas once they become a couple. In the sequel, Cas actually fantasizes about cutting Anna lose on the Order of the Black Dagger as payback for their abuse towards him.
  • Weirdness Censor: Definitely in play. When Anna kills Mike, people immediately write it off as him running away, and the small search party that goes looking for him barely makes any real effort. Carmel's disturbed by how none of her friends even ask her about it.
  • White Shirt of Death: Anna wore a white dress when she died, though her dress turns into blood when the curse takes over.
  • Wicked Witch: Anna's mother, Malvina, who murders her own daughter and damns her spirit to forever haunt the house and kill anyone who enters it.
  • Yandere: Why, hello, Anna!