Review: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Title: Graveminder
Author: Melissa Marr
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: ARC

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.


  1. I have been wanting to read this one since I first started seeing reviews for it. Sounds engrossing!

  2. Jenna...this sounds very good. Until I read your review, I would not have considered it; nice job.

  3. It sounds like a Gothic Sarah Addison Allen. I might try it during the RIP Challenge.

  4. I have been curious about this book for some time now, and think that I might enjoy it. After reading your review, I don't think I will expect it to stick with me, although I do think it would be an interesting read. You might actually like The Taker, which I just finished a few weeks ago. Very nice dual storyline in that one. Great review, by the way!

  5. Yours in the first review of this I've seen; I read Marr's YA Wicked Lovely and liked it for the rather sensible heroine so I've been curious about this book. I have a friend who is reading it now and loving it, but I appreciate your comments and observations about the characters and plot. I suspect I'd feel the same as you so when I do pick this up, I'll temper my expectations a bit!

  6. I have it on my wish list only because I love the Wicked Lovely series by Marr. Your review makes me pretty curious, I must say.

  7. Never heard of this book or this author! I love finding new names like this. :) Plus, the Gothic genre is a favorite of mine. In response to your comment at my blog about The Lost Summer of L.M.A, if you're looking for a book about independent women then I'd highly recommend it!! I loved Alcott's character so so much, and the narration was enjoyable, too.

  8. From your review, it definitely sounds like there is an awful lot going on for a 300 page book. Thanks for your honest thoughts on this one.

  9. reviewsbylola - Hope you get a chance to read it! It's definitely engrossing and a quick page-turner.

    Diane - If you're looking for something a little light and spooky then this would be it. Maybe good for a Halloween reading challenge?

    Alex - I never thought of the comparison, but you're right. They both use other-world elements in a way that's not too over the top. I think if Marr parred down her plots then she could be a definite contender with SAA...maybe. :)

    Zibilee - I love the way you phrased it. Enjoyed but probably won't really remember it 6 months from now. I just looked up The Taker, and it looks fantastic. Definitely on my list now. Thanks for the recommendation!

  10. Audra - I think if you've already read this author then you'll enjoy it a little more than I did. I didn't have any idea going into it. The problem may be that the Marr is so used to having multiple books to develop storylines that she couldn't really execute it in one book.

    Book Belle - If you're a fan of her previous series then I would recommend reading this one. If nothing else it would make for a good comparison between her YA and adult works.

    Bailey - I love a good Gothic too! If you don't mind a more supernatural take on it then I think you'd like this one.

    Bookgirl - Thanks. I really wanted to like this one more than I did. I think if the book had been developed over a series then it would have been more enjoyable.

  11. I wanted to like this story because conceptually it sounded interesting, but Rebekkah is an annoying character. She's manipulative and immature, and her long history of using Byron makes her unsympathetic. She contradicts herself (with internal dialogue) entirely too much, to the point of reader distraction. Byron appears weak, pining for a woman that continually does him wrong.

    Although Marr does a good job of revving up suspense, I kept getting jerked out of the story by deep point of view italics, poor editing and unbelievable behavior. Since I wasn't lost in the story, I began analyzing everything and therefore became much less forgiving of things I'd otherwise overlook.


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