Okay, I made a trip to the store this afternoon intent on purchasing a historical and a contemporary romance to review for the blog. Unfortunately, neither was available, which I find more than a little shocking, since they’re both new releases from big name authors and big publishers. However, I did see Melissa Marr’s new book, Graveminder, which I’d seen reviewed on a few blogs, so I bought the book. Now I won’t be able to sleep tonight, because it’s super creepy. Argh! So dumb!!! All joking aside, this book wasn’t quite the leap from my usual reading, since I like reading about the paranormal and romance, and this novel had both. It was hard to put down and I certainly recommend it, but do NOT read it right before bed. Did I mention it’s creepy?
So here are the goods on the book. The action takes place in a small, idyllic town named Claysville, and this town takes excellent care of its dead. Graves are well tended and there’s a woman in the town who is the designated “Graveminder.” At the beginning of the novel, that Graveminder is Maylene Barrow, Rebekkah Barrow’s grandmother. When Maylene is mysteriously murdered, Rebekkah must return to Claysville for her funeral and discover the truth behind both Maylene’s death and her life. Byron Montgomery is the town’s current undertaker, and he and Rebekkah have had an on-again, off-again relationship for years. Neither Rebekkah nor Byron understands why her grandmother’s murder is not being investigated. It turns out that the living and the dead have an uneasy and longstanding bargain in Claysville, and the Graveminder and her Undertaker play important roles in keeping the town’s dead from rising from the grave and feeding on its citizens. Byron and Rebekkah have little time to discover the truth about the city’s contract with the mysterious Mr. D, and the parts they will play in this bargain, but they have to learn quickly to protect the living by keeping the dead in their graves.
This book is hard to put down! The world Melissa Marr created is fascinating and I really enjoy the pacing of the novel. We learn the truth behind what’s happened to Maylene and the other dead in the town slowly as Byron and Rebekkah learn it. It’s not until the very end that we learn who is behind the killings in town, and I certainly admit that I didn’t see it coming. Also, the complicated relationships between past Graveminders and Undertakers and their children are heartbreaking and nuanced. The one failing (and in my mind it’s a doozy) is the character of Rebekkah. She seems to accept her new role as Graveminder fairly easily, but her relationship with Byron is problematic. I find her indecisiveness towards Byron to be downright cruel. He was her step-sister Ella’s boyfriend in high school when Ella killed herself. Rebekkah and Byron had been attracted to one another before Ella’s suicide, and afterwards whenever they acted on their mutual attraction, Rebekkah was unable to deal with the guilt. I can understand that to a point, but it drags on for too long, and Byron is far too willing to accept whatever Rebekkah wants to give him for my liking.
As I said earlier, the book is fabulously creepy, and the lines between the dead and the living are blurry to say the least. I will be reading this book over and over again, just not at night! I hope this is the beginning of a new series, because even though Ms. Marr answers most questions that Rebekkah and Byron have, she leaves just enough open-ended for future novels.