Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Graveminder: A Review

Written by: Melissa Marr
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Language: English
May 2011
Genre: Fiction

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you." >

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.


A couple of years ago I was introduced to Melissa Marr through Wicked Lovely. Finn knew I would like the series as it involved the fey and that is one of my genre weaknesses. Cannot help it really. Wouldn’t help it if you asked me. *grin* I knew that Melissa was coming out with an adult book and I was curious, but with my to be read pile taking over our guest room and my resolution of not buying any new books until I have read 5 from the TBR pile, it was not picked up until a few weeks ago.

So why do I love Marr? Well she is great at world building and that is rare I think. So much that I read now, especially in my little urban fantasy niche, is the same. Sure names are different, occasionally plots differ too, but there is rarely something that makes that world feel unique and special. Marr does a good job of this. Even as I read the blurb on the back, I felt like the voice was unique. I wasn’t sure whether I might deal with zombies or ghosts, but having a Graveminder with some old school hoodoo mixed in that felt like something I haven’t read before. SO I sat down to read.

Many years ago the townspeople of Claysville signed a contract with a very unique individual. Now they don’t have to worry about their health, the town prospers, and if you leave you quite often are pulled back. Beks grew up in that town, tended graves with her grandmother never knowing the importance of such rituals. After her sister died, Rebekkah couldn’t wait to leave, get away from the death and secrets. But Claysville has a habit of pulling you back even when you spend so much time running away.

After her grandmother Maylene passes away suddenly, Bek returns to Claysville and all of the memories it holds, including one time love Byron. But there is more to her visit than laying her grandmother to rest. Maylene was murdered and her death stirs up more secrets and more trouble than anyone had imagined.

Things I loved: I loved the Gothic undertones with kind of the old hoodoo magic feel. It also reminded me of old wakes where a shot was poured in remembrance. Even if there wasn’t some sort of connection between tending the graves and another world, I like that this town had a graveminder…someone who remembered those who had passed and took care of their resting places. Bring new flowers, make sure that the grave looked minded, and spend a breath or two having a small chat. It is a great little picture and I could see Maylene doing it for years and years. As Bek puts it later in the book she’s the Den mother to the dead.

The story continues with that slow churn and pace, but I liked it. I wasn’t bored reading it and it moved evenly enough that it wasn’t too jarring for the past part (there is some unevenness that I think is largely due to the multiple character perspective, but nothing too horrid). I felt like I was watching an old Southern Gothic horror film, slow to build, but interesting in its own way. I also liked the world that Marr built. It isn’t full of too much description, nor are her characters. The reader is given just enough to formulate their own pictures with their imaginations. Rebekkah is just a gal, Byron is just a guy, and Daisha is so much more. I was given enough information that my imagination filled in the rest and I focused on the story.

The history between Byron and Bek was believable. I completely understood the pain there despite loving each other very much. I think there is always going to be part of Bek that feels responsible and guilty about Byron when it comes to her sister. Even though she had nothing to do with her death. But it’s always going to be there and all they can do is try and work through it and I think that they will.

Things I didn’t love so much: This is not an amazing book, but it is a good book and I cannot tell you why it wasn’t truly awesome. I read through it quite easily and quickly and the world was intriguing enough that I wanted to know more it. I like that it is a one off though could easily be made into a series (more Alicia please). It’s a great world with the dead and the living. But again it gets an extra star for not being 1 of 5 or 15. But it did linger at times and it was difficult for me to truly get into the first half of the book despite the excellent premise. I actually think the moments in the Underworld and Daisha were the strongest.

So minor quibbles aside I really liked Graveminder and I think I will be picking up Alicia’s story as well when my not allowed to buy new books freeze finally ends.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. While not my favorite of Melissa Marr’s stories, the premise and world is very clever and fun to read.

Part of: Stand Alone though there is another book set in the world.

Also Recommended: Read more Melissa Marr with Wicked Lovely. For a not so usual zombie tale try The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell. For another great little mystery Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann is pretty good and finally for some bonafide returned fiction in television form Les Revenants is a wonderful little series.

3.0 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

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