Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn’t a funeral that Maylene didn’t attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”
Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place—and the man—she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid 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—a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.
Discovery: As you might already know from my Darkest Mercy review, I’m a fan of Melissa Marr’s and her first adult novel intrigued me enough to buy a copy on release day.
+ Creep factor. It took me a while to read this novel because I couldn’t convince myself to continue it at night. I’ve been reading more and more zombie fiction, but this is much scarier. Once you’re a zombie, you don’t feel guilt or pain for what you have to do to survive. There is no capacity for thought or emotion. Melissa Marr’s walking dead are conscious of what they are doing and they do it anyway. What heightens the creepiness is the fact that the Graveminder herself becomes a victim.
+ Backstory. One reason why I love the Wicked Lovely series is the world-building. Faerie comes alive, and in this book, Clayville is just as vibrant and real. The small-town vibe is present, as are the usual people one finds in a small town: the sheriff, the priest, the mysterious recluse, et cetera. Marr’s writing make both Clayville and the world of the Graveminder chillingly true to life. I’m especially interested in the underworld. It seems as though this book has been set up for possible sequels, and I would love to see more of the previous Graveminders.
– Writing style. There are times when the prose becomes almost clinical and very detached from the characters. Marr’s words shine when she describes the supernatural, but sometimes they fail to get the themes across. It may just be a lack of sentence variety–if I read scenes aloud, my voice tends to go into a monotone which isn’t good.
– Dialogue. The main relationship in the novel is between Rebekkah and Byron and while there are some tense scenes, I never really felt like it got off the ground. The dialogue is partly to blame. Many of the conversations between Bek and Byron are repetitive and Bek especially harps on about the same conflicts. For a grown woman who claims to be self-sufficient, she is remarkably indecisive and it can become tedious for the reader. On the other hand, Byron has a tendency to clam up and it’s obvious in the dialogue.
Recommendations: This book is worth reading, if only for the supernatural gold one will find. As a love story, it comes up shy.
Next review: City of Bones, Cassandra Clare