Character Appreciation Post: Anna Korlov from Anna Dressed in Blood


“… there she is, my goddess of death, her hair snaking out in a great black cloud, her teeth grinding hard enough to make living gums bleed.”

– Cas Lowood, Anna Dressed in Blood

Before I get started, I thought I’d post a brief introduction since this is the first time that I’ve done one of these for this site. From time to time, I’ll write a post about characters from books and comics that I love. I try to touch on the reasons why they’ve made an impression with me as a character. I tend to listen to music while reading, and certain songs stick out for scenes and characters when I’m reading. So, I’ll also include a song that makes me think of them. And yes, if you watch Game of Thrones, you’ll probably recognize the song I used in this post as the trailer song. Anyhow, I may include other things in these posts, but I’ll try to stay mostly consistent with my format. On with it, then, yes?
Who Is Anna Korlov?
She is one of the heroes, and the main catalyst, in Kendare Blake’s Anna duology, which consists of Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares. She’s a ghost who lives in an old Victorian house. She haunts the house wearing a white dress stained red that drips blood, the same dress she was wearing when she was murdered in 1958. She has murdered every living person who has ever entered her home except Cas Lowood, a ghost hunter.
She is snared in the fingers of a curse for reasons she doesn’t quite remember, and she houses a dichotomy of feelings. She is both love and fury, anger and sorrow. She carries a heavy burden of regret and sadness. She is a ghostly goddess of death and a scared teenaged girl. She is a power not matched by many, if any–living or dead. She doesn’t know if she deserves forgiveness or release, but she is tired and wants true death. Despite it all, Anna is anything but your typical ghost.

A Song I Associate with Anna

Dig up her bones, but leave the soul alone

Let her find a way to a better place

Broken dreams and silent screams

Empty churches with soulless curses

Bones by MS MR

Why I Love Her

Admittedly, the main reason I wanted to read these books was because of the covers, and while I do love Cas and his misfit group of friends, Anna Korlov, a girl relegated to an unfortunate fate, is the real hero of the story for me.The thing that really stood out for in these books is that Blake kept Anna consistent in general character and in the ghostshipping (the romance) that’s presented in the book.

In so many books, once a male counterpart enters the story, the female character becomes a bit useless, especially in young adult books. Let me stop here for a moment to clarify “useless” in the sense that I mean. Anna has fears. She has desires, wants, and needs. She has feelings that run deep. She is not a shell of a person… er… ghost. I’m not saying that she shouldn’t be allowed these things and feelings. Quite the contrary.

A strong character for me doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed their weaknesses or that they shouldn’t need someone to save them from time to time. I don’t mean that, sometimes, they don’t break when things overwhelm them. However, when a character loses complete sense of self and suddenly becomes nothing more than “that chick that needs saving by her oh-so-strong man all the time,” I get pissed. Vulnerability as well as strength should be shown. There needs to be a balance, and I think Blake did an excellent job with that. She also seemed to do a great job of having Anna and Cas complement each other.

In the story, Anna did not suddenly become a weepy girl ghost who needed Cas to protect her after he helps her reconcile her duality, which makes her a near unstoppable force. Anna already outpaces the average ghost with her strength and awareness (most vengeful ghosts in the story don’t realize they’re dead and are unaware that the world has changed at all). She becomes Cas’ protector in some ways. She doesn’t run in always saving him. She allows Cas to be the person that he is, and she doesn’t underestimate his abilities or formidability.

Cas gives her the same respect. But they both are there for the other to lend strength when needed. And there have been scenarios when they have both needed the other in extreme cases. Anna doesn’t ignore her feelings for Cas, but she tries not to mourn what she can’t have with Cas. It pains her and she quietly shows it, but she she is more willing than Cas to accept that a relationship between them is impossible. I really liked the dynamics between Cas and Anna, and I appreciate the love story didn’t eclipse the rest of the story.

Anna doesn’t excuse herself from what she’s done. She understands that she’s taken lives and she’s disgusted and saddened by it. Her living companions–Cas, Thomas, and Carmel–are much more sympathetic to her and her plight than Anna is to herself even though they’ve seen what her fury can do firsthand. She doesn’t know if she’s deserving of the kindness that she’s given. She doesn’t know if her final rest should be peaceful because of the horror she’s perpetrated over the years.

Anna is presented as a realist, and she’s pragmatic about her situation and the situations surrounding her. She won’t lie to herself or to any of the others just to dull an ache. She’s not some over-romanticized wisp of a ghost who spends time sighing about life and the living. She seemed more practical about what was going on than her living companions. And this doesn’t seem like something she only gained in death. In the brief glimpses of her life we are given, Anna was respectful and kind, but she would not be cowed.

She shows impossible courage along with the rest of the gang. Despite her fears, she stands her ground, even in one of her weakest moments, and she makes a sacrifice far greater because she knows she’s the only one who can despite the fact that she may be sending herself to some unknown fate. Anna has earned her place on my list of favorite fictional characters.

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