A dark, creepy, strange sort of love story

I returned from the recent Romance Writers of New Zealand conference with a heap of books to read in a range of genres. That’s one of the things I love about our conferences: I get to try books I’d never usually pick up, and I’m always certain of finding another author’s books to add to my keeper shelf. So a huge thank you to all the people who donated the books that ended up in our goodie bags and giveaways. And a special thanks to Harlequin Australia, who had the most enticing book display ever… and then let us take the books home after the conference! It doesn’t get much better than that for a bookworm like me :)

Speaking of books I wouldn’t usually read, the book I’m going to talk briefly about this month is Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake.

I picked up this book after reading about it on Dear Author. Reviewer Jia described it like so: “This is a creepy book, a violent book, and a dark book, but at its heart, it’s a strange sort of love story.”

Mmm. Sounded right up DD’s alley, so I picked a copy up for her. But as DD was in the middle of reading something else, I decided to read it first.

Now what’s interesting — to me, anyway — about this book is that if I’d seen it on the shelf without knowing anything about it, my thought processes would have gone something like this:

*checks out the cover* Looks like a horror. Ick.

Oh, wait a minute. The cover quote from Cassandra Clare describes it as “Spellbinding and romantic.”

Romantic? Really? *turns book over and checks out the back cover copy*

First thing I see on the back cover is another quote from Holly Black, an author I love for her darkly gritty paranormal Curse Workers series:

“It’s the old boy-meets girl story, if the boy is a wry, self-destructive ghost hunter bent on avenging his father and the girl is a homicidal ghost trapped in a house full of everyone she’s ever murdered. Needless to say, Cas and Anna are my new favorite twosome. When I got to the last page, I flipped back to the first.”

A romance between a ghost hunter and a murderous ghost? Okay, that’s got my attention.

And then there’s an excerpt, which is so evocative and compelling that I’m pretty certain I’m going to have to read this “romantic” horror, just to see how on earth it ends. Here’s the excerpt:

“This city smells like smoke and things that rot in the summer. It’s more haunted that I thought it would be, and entire layer of activity just under the dirt: whispers behind people’s laughter or movement that you shouldn’t see in the corner of your eye. Most of them are harmless–sad little cold spots or groans in the dark. Blurry patches of white that only show up in a Polaroid. I have no business with them.

But somewhere out there is one that matters. Somewhere out there is the once I came for, one who is strong enough to squeeze the breath out of living throats. 

I think of her again. Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood. I wonder what tricks she’ll try. I wonder if she will be clever. Will she float? Will she laugh or scream?

How will she try to kill me?”

Hmmm. Interesting.

And then, just to really suck me in and ensure I read this book, another author quote describing it as “gorgeous, brutal, heartbreaking, merciless, and cool as hell”.

Okay, I’m sold!

I wasn’t disappointed, either. And without giving anything away, I liken it to a YA version of Supernatural, with Cas taking on the role of Sam and Dean. So if you’re into Supernatural, and aren’t put off at the thought of a teen hero’s romantic interest being bloodthirsty ghost, then I highly recommend this one. In fact, “gorgeous, brutal, heartbreaking, merciless, and cool as hell” about sums it up! I loved Anna Dressed In Blood, and I’m not a fan of horrors. DD loved it, too, and she is. So take your pick.

Here’s my (rather short for various reasons!) reading list for July: Oops, t that should read August!

  • The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason
  • Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
  • Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase
  • Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
  • Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep
  • Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison
  • My Soul To Keep by Rachel Vincent
  • Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  • One Month To Become A Mum by Louisa George
  • Having The Billionaire’s Baby by Sandra Hyatt
  • Gilded Secrets by Maureen Child



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