Anna Dressed in Blood is easily one of my favorite reads so far this year. It was recommended to me by Felicity Disco, who was right on the money. This book finds Cas Lowood hunting ghosts, as his dad did before he died. His mom moves from town to town with Cas whenever he finishes another job. He's only a teenager, about to graduate High School, if he ever stays in one place long enough, but since his dad died taking on a ghost, Cas has been determined to do the job. And he's always been able to do it alone, with his mom doing whatever she can do to help patch him up afterwards.
When Cas hears about Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost who has been killing anyone who enters the boarding house where she lived, he's intrigued. When Cas and his mom set off to face this new ghost, Cas is sure that he'll be done in a few days, weeks at the most. That's before he ends up in the house against his will and Anna doesn't kill him though she clearly could. That's before everything he knew about what he does and why it's a good thing, starts to come into question. That's before he starts to care about the people in his classes, and the town as things spin out of his control.
I loved that Cas's mother is an active part of the book's plot and Cas's life, and that she is willing to do anything she can to help. Cas is still the one that has to actually confront the ghosts, but she's there, and she worries, and she's his mom. After reading several YA books where the parents were absent, I found this refreshing. I also enjoyed watching Cas start to engage, when he clearly had good reasons to resist. Watching him make friends and grow connections for the first time was wonderful. And can I just say, I really liked Carmel. You'll understand if you read it. I'll also note that the book is beautiful. The ink is maroon and it added to the mood as I read.
One quick note, this book is bloody. There's a reason that Anna is described as Dressed in Blood. It is fairly literal. I didn't have much of a problem with it, but I did decide it was worth a warning. All of the violence and blood did seem to be plot relevant.