Author: Melissa Marr
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Before picking up Graveminder I had never heard of Melissa Marr or her books. What really drew me in was the wonderful cover with such a southern Gothic feel. Stories about small towns with mysterious secrets have always been entertaining for me, and I figured this one would be a good reprieve from my last few books, the somber Mr. Chartwell and Lonely.
For almost three centuries, the town of Claysville has helped return the wandering dead to their resting place in return for the protection and security of all its citizens. Thanks to an ancestor's mistake, the Barrow women have been burdened with the role of Graveminder, the one responsible for the newly departed. After the untimely death of the current Graveminder Maylene, Rebekkah Barrow is forced back to the town she tried so hard to escape for the funeral. She always knew her grandmother had some quirky habits and rituals, but it isn't until Rebekkah receives her "inheritance" that she fully realizes why. Added to all of this, a string of murders by one of the newly dead that wasn't properly minded has started in the town. Now Rebekkah must deal with not only her new responsibilities, but also with her feelings for the town Undertaker's son Byron, one of the reasons she'd been running for so long.
Overall, I was entertained by Graveminder. Nothing more, nothing less. It was a fast read and a definite page-turner, but a little overambitious with the multiple story lines. I don't read much Urban Fantasy, if that is how this book can be categorized, but I think it was a good pick for a quick dip into the genre as it wasn't too over the top. While the plot was slightly predictable, Marr creates such a creepy atmosphere that I didn't mind as much. Her vision of the world of death where there is no time and all of history's eras coexist was fascinating, and I wish she had spent more time with its development. The leader of this other world, Charlie, while quite devious, was also so mysterious and intriguing that I was left wanting more.
The characters were all solid, but not all of them were likable. I found myself more drawn to the secondary players, such as Amity, than to Rebekkah and Byron. The relationship angle just brought down the story. The two continuously dance around their feelings and refuse to just say what they mean. Rebekkah came across as too negative and indecisive for me to really feel sorry for her situation. Plus, I was irritated by the fact that all she can do is whine about her relationship after learning about a new world and that essentially all choice in her life has been taken away.
As far as I know, Marr didn't plan this to be the start of a series, which I find refreshing since so many authors try to milk a story for as many books as possible when one would clearly suffice. Graveminder was original it that it was not the typical zombie/vampire fare. The dead weren't mumbling staggering creatures, but beings who look like their living selves and can speak and reason. Overall, there was a definite feeling of respect for the dead portrayed in the novel.
However, I thought there was a little too much going on in terms of plot lines. Creating a fully-developed other world plus building up a romance and writing a believable mystery is really hard, especially in a book with only 300ish pages. For the most part, I did enjoy Graveminder and don't regret having read it. I can't say I'd enthusiastically recommend it to everyone, but if you're looking for a fast, entertaining, and creepy read and don't mind some of the issues I mentioned then this would be it.