Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville. While growing up, Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual at every funeral: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words, “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”
Now Maylene is gone and Bek must return to the hometown—and the man—she abandoned a decade ago, only to discover that Maylene’s death was not natural . . . and there was good reason for her odd traditions. In Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected—and beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. From this dark place the deceased will return if their graves are not properly minded. And only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk. . .
So…Graveminder. As confusing as the synopsis is, I found the first few chapters to be equally confusing. After the book really got going, though, it all sorted itself out and I was able to follow exactly what was going on. Still, I struggled a lot with the book because I genuinely disliked the protagonist and sadly that’s usually the kiss of death for me. While I didn’t totally dislike this book, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it either. Rather than doing a “true” review it’ll be easier to just break things down into what I liked and what I didn’t like.
Pros: Claysville and most of its residents. Claysville is a weird town with kind of a David Lynch-y, Twin Peaks-y vibe to it. The world building in general was really good in the book. Not just Claysville, but the land of the dead as well. Marr’s descriptions of the places really brought them to life for me. I found the story to be pretty original, too. Also, Daisha is awesome.
Cons: Rebekkah. Rebekkah. REBEKKAH. Gah. I really detested her. Her actions and dialogue in almost every situation just totally rubbed me the wrong way. You know when you read a book and you think, “Wow, me and this person would be BFFs if s/he was real!” Well, I had the opposite reaction with Rebekkah. The character just wasn’t my cup of tea. It happens. Related to that: I had a really big problem with Rebekkah and Byron’s relationship. They loved each other. She denied it. She admitted it. She denied it. She admitted it but pushed him away anyway. She invited him into her bed and then pushed him away. She kissed him and IMMEDIATELY PUSHED HIM AWAY. Just…stop. I get it that she felt guilty being with him because of circumstances that I will not mention in order to keep things spoiler free. I do. And I empathize. But it was just too much and her actions made her seem like a user, a tease, and an all-around awful person. By the time I got to the end of the book I didn’t even care if they ended up together because the will they/won’t they thing had become so repetitious and tiresome. And by that point I had lost all respect for Byron – who I initially liked – because he just put up with Rebekkah’s shit and I couldn’t figure out why (note: to be fair this is explained, but I really just didn’t buy it).
So again…overall I struggled to get through the book, mainly because of Rebekkah and because it seemed like it was rehashing the same relationship thing over and over. I would have rather they focused more on the nefarious shit going on among the residents of Claysville (again, staying spoiler free) because I think if that had been developed a little more I would have enjoyed the book more as opposed to the emphasis being on Rebekkah/Byron. As it was, I was still thinking about putting it down after 200 pages. I hung in, though, and I’m glad that I did because I enjoyed the ending. It redeemed the book a lot in my opinion.
Overall I’d give it 2.5/5 stars. I think it would have a lot to offer the right reader and I’d definitely consider reading other books by Melissa Marr because my problems with the book had nothing to do with her writing per se, I just wasn’t able to overcome my distaste for the MC enough to enjoy it.