May 17, 2011
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
reviewed by Katherine Hazen
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to just anyone. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed it, and would love to see more in this world. It was perfectly eerie, and a must for anyone the slightest bit interested in Southern Gothic.
However, one of the main protagonists, Rebekkah, is a little hard to connect with. I imagine she might rub some people the wrong way. So this may only be one for those who don’t mind a protagonist who’s a little rough around the edges. She has real flaws and real issues, and if you want your main character to be a bit more Mary-Sue’ish, this book isn’t for you.
Unfortunately, it is hard to tell you much about the premise of this book without giving away spoilers. So I won’t say much more about the premise, I think the summary that was originally posted tells you everything you need to know before reading the book:
Three sips to mind the dead . . .
Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn’t a funeral that Maylene didn’t attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”
Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in 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. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.
Although she is still grieving for Maylene, Rebekkah will soon find that she has more than a funeral to attend to in Claysville, and that what awaits her may be far worse: dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility—to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong.
I gave myself a few days to let this simmer in the back of my head before writing my review, and I think the big conclusion I came to is this story is more about Byron than Rebekkah. Rebekkah may change the most, but I felt it was less about change and more about letting go of her baggage and accepting herself for who she is. Byron, on the other hand, is the one you find yourself silently routing for from the very beginning.
The things the delighted me most about this book were the world-building and the supporting cast. Marr excels in the creating and twisting mythologies department, and this book is no different. I think Alicia, Charles, and Amity were by far my favorite characters in this book. I would flock to the nearest bookstore to buy a sequel, if it were available, in order to get more of their stories. Overall, definitely a good read if you don’t mind Rebekkah’s issues.