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Graveminder: A Review

Claysville is a small town that keeps itself to itself. Very few people leave and those that do always find their way back.

Byron Montgomery thought he could leave Claysville behind but nowhere else is quite the same. Nowhere else is home. So he comes back to work with his father, the local undertaker.

Rebekkah Barrow only lived in Claysville for a few years but it’s the closest thing she has to a home. When her grandmother Maylene is killed, Bek knows it’s time to go home. Even if nothing about Claysville should feel like home without Maylene.

Seeing each other for the first time in years Rebekkah and Byron learn together that Claysville isn’t a normal small town, Byron’s father is more than the local undertaker, and Maylene may have had her reasons for attending every town funeral–reasons that had nothing to do with being eccentric and everything to do with keeping Claysville safe.

Maylene told Rebekkah everything she needs to know. Byron is ready to follow in his father’s footsteps. Together will they be able to put everything right in Claysville before it’s too late in Graveminder (2011) by Melissa Marr.

This is Melissa Marr’s first novel that is not young adult. She is also the author of the Wicked Lovely series.

I should preface my thoughts by saying I haven’t read any of Marr’s other books. I am also not a fan of zombies (I’m on Team Unicorn).

Graveminder has all the makings of a really great story: a generations old curse, a small town, lots of secrets. The idea is clever and intriguing. The characters are varied and interesting. But all of that never gels together to make a cohesive book.

First and foremost, the story is too slow to get to the point. Marr throws readers right into the action with a promising prologue. Only to leave readers hanging until page 100 (of the Advanced Reader’s Copy I read) to receive any kind of explanation about what is going on in Claysville and what role the Barrow and Montgomery families play in it. There is a fine balance between informing a reader and keeping a character in the dark until a key moment. Graveminder did not achieve that balance.

The other, bigger, problem with Graveminder is that Rebekkah is the protagonist of the story (the narrative viewpoint shifts between different characters with the bulk belonging to Byron and Rebekkah). She is important and vital and she is in many ways a hero in the plot. But she never feels real. Instead she comes across as one dimensional as if some important piece is missing. Byron is slightly better as a character (to be fair he is not bogged down with grief the way Rebekkah is at the beginning) but his unfailing devotion to Bek never feels quite realistic between her constantly pushing him away and his even more constant devotion.

Graveminder is an interesting addition to the world of American Gothics. Marr offers a unique premise and an original take on death, among other things. Unfortunately it just isn’t quite as fantastic as I was hoping it would be.

Possible Pairings: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, Zombies Vs. Unicorns edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black, Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by Jana Oliver, Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

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