Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Rec — Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Read this!!!

Nuff said.

Just kidding. But seriously, this book is astoundingly good. It’s got everything you could want in a horror tale: scariness, humor, action, love, you name it. Oh, and in case you’re too much of a bum to click on the link to the description on Amazon (…kidding…). Here’s the description:

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

Cool right? Although, even the description doesn’t do this one enough justice.  Sounds a bit like Supernatural, yes? Well, it definitely has the same kind of sassy feel, but bled through with Tim Burtonesque imagery that is as beautiful as it is startling (and awesomely gruesome in parts). I dare you to go here and read the first chapter and then NOT want to read the rest. Go on, give it a shot, but be warned, the book doesn't come out until the end of this month!

Really, my only complaint is that I wanted Anna Dressed in Blood to be about a zillion pages longer. And yet it was the perfect length with a perfect story arc and a homerun ending. Did I mention it was perfect?

So yeah, lucky me (and definitely lucky you, dear readers), the sequel to Anna is already in the edit stage. That’s great news. Trust me, Kendare Blake’s is a writer whose stories you’ll want to get lost in (even if those stories might eat you alive). Or maybe because of.

Happy Reading

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Scorpio Races, a Horsewoman’s Perspective

First of all, this is not a review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s more of a love letter. Because I LOVED this book. The premise of this YA Fantasy is pretty simple: set in the contemporary world circa 1920s or thereabouts, there is an island called Thisby whose waters (and at certain times land) is inhabited by magical flesh-eating seahorses. And once a year some of the more courageous of Thisby’s inhabitants, capture, train, and ride those horses in the Scorpio Races, a huge tourist-attracting event. The story, told in two alternating first person points-of-view, focuses on two of those riders who both have desperate and heartbreaking reasons to win the race.

Now, as a horse woman with years and years of experience both in the saddle and on the ground, I was a little concerned about the idea of flesh-eating monster horses — as in why would I want to read about that? I mean real life horses can sometimes be scary enough without razor-sharp teeth and a craving for meat and blood. Horses are big and often unpredictable. They have minds and personalities of their own. It hurts when they bite, kick, run you over. They can even kill you.

But then I started to hear good things about the story and decided to give it a try. I’m so very glad I did. Not only did the story blow me away with its beautiful setting, fierce/wonderful/fully-real characters, and a tension that builds like a slow scalding fire, but it also moved me on a deeply personal level, the level where my love of horses resides. When I finished it, I felt as if Maggie Stiefvater had reached inside me, captured my love of my horses, and wove into her story like magic. It was as if she’d written it just for me. It’s the story version of my love for this guy and his love for me:

First as a baby…

And now today…

You don’t have to be a horse lover to love this story, but being one makes the experience all the richer. Horses are more than pets. They’re trusted friends and partners. When you climb on a horse, you must trust it to carry you and to take care for you. You ask it to submit and to give, even as you submit and give back. There’s no feeling quite like it in the world — and The Scorpio Races embodies it.

P.S. Be sure to come back in the fall. I plan on holding a contest to give away the book (unfortunately, the ARC I read isn't mine, and I wouldn't be able to part with it even if it was, I love it that much)