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Book pick: ‘Graveminder’ opens up a gritty new world of the dead June 5, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in Reviews/summaries.
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Someone has to watch over the dead in Claysville. Feed them. Console them. Make sure they stay put.

And for decades, Rebekkah Barrow’s grandmother, Maylene, did just that. Maylene went to  every funeral in town and performed the same ritual that Rebekkah witnessed over and over. She would take three sips from a silver flask and say “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”

But Rebekkah, an outsider who only lived in Claysville for a short time and  visited her grandmother as a young adult, never knew why. And now that her grandmother is dead — murdered — the duty to mind the dead falls to her in Melissa Marr’s latest book, GRAVEMINDER, a gritty, urban fantasy that makes you wonder if people really do have a choice about who they love and why.

Rebekkah Barrow is torn with indecision and guilt over her destined role in Claysville, a town where the native born never leave, but live quiet and happy lives until they turn at least 80 and then they are subject to the same health issues as anyone else. But the price for that so-called peace has been a pact with the underworld that dictates that a Graveminder — a Barrow woman — and the town’s Undertaker — a Montgomery man — work together to make sure the dead of Claysville are buried properly. And if they aren’t — to lead them to the other side, a place ruled by the mysterious Charles — also called Mr. D. If the dead aren’t properly minded, they will walk among the living and kill.

Helping Rebekkah is the Undertaker — Byron Montgomery, an old love who Rebekkah has run away from because — among other things — he used to date her sister. Neither Rebekkah nor Bryon learn of their roles in Claysville until the very last minute.  They must sift through old journals and records and visit the land of Dr. D to find clues to mind the dead.

They also learn that the Graveminder and Undertaker are historically tied and drawn to each other. He must protect her, and she depends on him to guide her from the land of the dead — which she finds immensely attractive. Is it the destiny of the Graveminder and Undertaker the reason Rebekkah and Bryon have always been attracted to each other? Or is it true love? Or does it even matter? With no time to figure out their feelings for each other, Rebekkah and Byron must work together to figure out who killed Maylene and to deal with the dead — who are now suddenly so restless.

This is an urban fantasy, who-done-it mystery with a dash of romance. The story is laced with folklore, and at first — because I was reading so quickly — I didn’t understand how the role of Graveminder or Undertaker is passed along, so read the first chapters carefully. The most interesting  parts of the story occur when Marr takes us into the world of Dr. D. How he and the rest of the dead are connected to the world of the living is fascinating, and she hasn’t revealed all that much in this first book — but there’s enough to make you wonder what she’ll do in the next installment.

Fans of Marr’s WICKED LOVELY series about humans and the fae understand that this author is great at building dark and mysterious worlds where each of her characters must make choices — no matter what their destiny. And she holds true to form in GRAVEMINDER.

Visit Melissa Marr’s website for excerpts from the novel and also some nifty Graveminders/Undertakers history (click the link to download the chart below in PDF format or you can download it from Melissa’s site.)

Image from Melissa Marr's website


1. Diana McCabe - June 5, 2011

OK — I loved this book. Read it carefully because I was so intrigued and racing through it that I missed some details that I had to go back and find again — once I figured out a few things.

At first I thought the explanations and lead in to the story were a bit long, but now I think she had a reason for the wind up. I think her next story will be even more interesting.

Hoping for a Q&A with her. Fingers crossed!

But a good read. One that when I was done I was like — now what am I gonna read?!


2. Krissy P. - June 6, 2011

I read this a while ago. I got an ARC copy through the Amazon Vine Program and I loved it as well. It was one of those books you could not put down and it was so original. I have never read anything else like it. I just love Melissa Marr. I think her Wicked Lovely books are fabulous too.

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