Saturday, 22 June 2013

Anna Dressed In Blood - Modern Witches and Witchcraft in K. Blake's Fiction

“It isn’t going to work. I can’t cast the circle. I’ve never had the knack for witchcraft. Mom must’ve told you. I messed up her Beltane cookies every year until I was seven.”  ("Anna Dressed in Blood", Ch. 13, Kendare Blake)
When I stumbled upon Kendare Blake's dark horror story, I expected some kind of violent fiction, full of characters' dark thoughts and intentions.. but it appeared to be a very pleasant read for a teenager age group, and okay, for adults, like me, though I don't feel like I am a grown up woman yet.
Most interesting for me in this story was a leitmotif of witchcraft (obviously!). The author creates a world where the souls are vengeful and like to kill and a hero who kills...  those vengeful souls. The hero's mother is  a witch who helps her son named Cas in his job of murdering the awoken dead. 
Cas calls his Mum a "mobile witch" because they move from one place to another quite frequently. She makes their living by "doing tarot card readings and aura cleansing over the phone, and selling occult supplies online". There might be some irony in those words about people believing in such things, but for Cas it is pretty much a reality of his life. 
I must say that the way Blake portrayed her witches is somehow close to what I got to know about modern witches's lives through some of my blogger friends. For us, people far from the practices of witchcraft (for the time being), what they do is what they believe in, this is their life, and it is not something to be afraid of or go away in disgust. Other story characters accept the fact of having witches as their neighbours totally normal and they are even not as much amazed to see the witches performing rituals accompanied by the ignition of flames out of nowhere or a tremor of the ground and so on.
Nevertheless the story's depiction of the witches is not free from representation in popular TV series. The witches control the weather, ignite flames, get inside your mind, and can destroy. I believe that the entertainment industry of course needs spectacular scenes, breath taking adventures, extraordinary characters. This could be the reason why the witches are presented in a such an "out of this world" way.
What I like about Blake's writing is that she has that witty irony through out the narrative. You can go by the extracted lines I gave in the very beginning of this post - messing up Beltane cookies? Oh my, that could be a catastrophe! But the author makes it feel like an ordinary thing (like burning an oatmeal cake), because it is such for her characters, and there is no exaggeration of the life of a modern witch.
"Anna Dressed in Blood" contains not only witches but also warlocks, one of them is a Cas's schoolmate, another - this schoolmate's granddad, who actually passed on the witchcraft skills to his grandson. So these two and Cas's mother make a magical team who fights with a powerful soul of an obeahman. There was also a good educational moment for me personally as I never knew who that was and had to read about it in the net. For me this novel was a novelty, a fresh insight into the modern witchcraft and a nice free from judgement depiction of what witches do or what they don't. 

P.S. I have the 3d and the last post about Gogol's horror story in my mind, though I decided to switch to another witch in this post. Pannochka is yet to come! Stay tuned, my dears.

Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and More.


  1. Yes, it sounds like a pretty good read. Quite the title though -- very chilling!

    1. It is a good read, relaxing I can say... as much as it can be :)

  2. Anna Dressed in Blood Sounds yummy! I haven't read it, but I just added it to my to-be-read list. I added the second book, too.

    I love the titles. I can't wait to meet the characters.

    1. Yea... especially for me :) Anna is there! Read it, a very pleasant story, may be for teens, but still... we all are children at heart!

    2. I just got my copy of Anna Dressed in Blood! I love reading good tales from all age levels: teen, adult, I even enjoy picture books ;-)

  3. Great story!
    Do follow my blog, if you like it.
    Can we follow each other?
    Following you :)

  4. I'm not sure if you'll get this, but I see your other blog went to 'invite only', so I can't read it anymore. :(