Graveminder Paperback – May 9 2011
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“Dark and dreamy . . . Rod Serling would have loved GRAVEMINDER . . . Marr is not tapping into the latest horde of zombie novels, she’s created a new kind of undead creature . . . A creatively creepy gothic tale for grown-ups.” (USA Today)
“Melissa Marr has created a fabulous, richly-imagined world in Claysville and its attendant piece of the Underworld.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
“Compelling, sexy, and riveting, you will not want to miss Graveminder!” (Jeaniene Frost, New York Times bestselling author of the Night Huntress series)
“Plan ahead to read this one, because you won’t be able to put it down! Haunting, captivating, brilliant! ” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Marr serves up a quirky dark fantasy fashioned around themes of fate, free will-and zombies…well-drawn characters and their dramatic interactions keep the tale loose and lively.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The über-talented Marr takes her mesmerizing storytelling talents into the adult arena. In her atmospheric and eerie tale, readers and protagonists jointly discover the secrets literally buried in this small town as Marr weaves a richly gothic tale filled with curses, responsibility and death. Outstanding!” (RT Book Reviews (top pick))
“A deliciously creepy tale that is as skillfully wrought as it is spellbindingly imagined.” (Kelley Armstrong)
“No one builds worlds like Melissa Marr.” (Charlaine Harris)
“The emotional dance between Rebekkah and Byron will captivate female readers [and] fantasy-horror fans will demand more.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“If anyone can put the goth in Southern Gothic, it’s Melissa Marr...Marr [is] careful to ensure that the book’s wider themes ... matter to us as much as the multiple cases of heebie-jeebies she doles out.” (NPR)
“Marr creates sympathetic characters, she takes readers to places both sinister and delightful, and there’s a satisfying end to a wonderfully awful villain...Fans will be looking for a sequel to this cozy horror story as soon as they read the last page.” (Washington Post)
From the Back Cover
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It was the cover of Graveminder that first encouraged me to pick up Melissa Marr's latest book. I love abandoned buildings and found this old structure quite appealing. Marr is an author I was unfamiliar with, but she is known for her Wicked Lovely series, aimed at young adult/teen readers. Graveminder is her first adult novel.
Rebekkah Barrow has returned to the town of Claysville for the funeral of her beloved grandmother Maylene. Most folks don't ever leave the town....and if they do, they are inexplicably drawn back. For the town has made a deal with the dead. A graveminder and her protector - the undertaker - will take care of the dead and make sure they don't wander. And that was Maylene's job. But now that job has fallen to Rebekkah and her new undertaker, Byron Montgomery.
This isn't my usual genre of read, but I was curious to see what Marr had imagined. I found her depiction of an entire City of the Dead quite imaginative, populated without drooling bodies (although there are a few of those up top) It is those dead in Claysville that are the problem that the new graveminder and undertaker must deal with. Who has undermined the contract and why? Someone alive or dead?
I chose to listen to this book. The reader is Emma Galvin. Her voice is quite expressive with a gravelly quality that adds to her reading. I enjoyed her interpretation. But, she does sound young and on further investigation found that she has narrated pretty much only YA novels. If Marr's intention was to separate Graveminder as an adult book, perhaps an older sounding voice would have been more appropriate. I found some of the dialogue a bit repetitious and don't think I would have noticed it as much in written form.Read more ›
"Graveminder" really shows that Melissa Marr has left teenage faerie tales far behind her. Her first adult novel is a much darker, stranger story -- a lushly-written American Gothic set in a small town where death is very different from what it is elsewhere. It takes awhile for everything to settle into place, but the suspenseful journey is worth it.
When her grandmother Maylene is found murdered, Rebekkah Barrow is called back to the town she hasn't lived in for almost a decade -- ever since her stepsister Ella committed suicide. Claysville has a lot of weird traditions and superstitions, including a mysterious connection between the Barrow women and the local undertakers, including Ella and Rebekkah's onetime boyfriend Byron.
But as Rebekkah and Byron try to figure out what happened to Maylene, other people are injured and killed by something roaming through Claysville. The new Graveminder and Undertaker must uncover their connection to the world of the dead, learn why a Hungry Dead girl is roaming through the town -- and stop a horrifying evil that is festering in their town.
Out of the books Melissa Marr has written, "Graveminder" is probably her darkest, eeriest and most organic. She doesn't rely on explicit gore to creep us out, instead allowing the horrifying moments to drift down like dead leaves (such as Daisha "accepting help" from people). Yes, it's even creepier than monsters could ever be.
And Marr's prose is lushly-described and full of rich, small-town-gothic atmosphere.Read more ›
In the small town of Claysville, the 'graveminder' is always a Barrow woman. At every funeral she performs the ritual of taking three sips from her small silver flask and saying "sleep well, and stay where I put you."
When her grandmother, Maylene, is savagely murdered, Rebekkah Barrow, becomes the next 'graveminder'. The dead have begun to rise and Bek and Byron Montgomery, the 'undertaker', must work together to return them to the land of the dead.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The biggest problem for me is that I never once warmed up to any of the characters. The story opens on Maylene, the town's Graveminder, being murdered by an escapee from the dead; her granddaughter (though not by blood--this point is hammered home again and again and again) Rebekkah is summoned home to the funeral, which must take place within a day because there's a law against embalming in Claysville. Rebekkah has spent the past 9 or 10 years running away from Claysville and her sometime lover, Byron; Byron, newly returned home to Claysville to work with his father in the funeral home business, was once in love with Rebekkah's step-sister Ella (who killed herself years before). Rebekkah loves Byron and Byron loves Rebekkah but Rebekkah believes they can't be together, so they aren't, until she returns home and it is revealed that, upon Maylene's death, Rebekkah has been named the new Graveminder (a position neither she nor Byron knew anything about). Byron, by default, is the new Undertaker, the man charged with protecting the Graveminder and escorting her back and forth from the land of the dead and also from the mysterious Mr. D (Mr. Death? Mr. Devil? Mr. Davis?), who seems to be in charge of the dead. Also, there is evidence that a waking dead person is snacking on townspeople; we do get some chapters from the surprisingly engaging Daisha, teen Hungry Dead person.
Maybe it was my lack of attention but I feel like very little in the story was fleshed out. I got the idea of a land of the dead, and that's a fascinating idea. But even though it was explained Why Claysville?, I just felt as though it was thrown together, not thought through. I got that Rebekkah is drawn to the land of the dead, and Mr. D does seem charming throughout, but honestly, why was she in love with the land of the dead? There is a whole sub-plot involving former Graveminder Alicia (whom I really liked, btw) and her problems with Mr. D, and maybe I missed it, but...what exactly happened between those two? And Byron and Rebekkah both left me cold; there was so much waffling on both parts ("I love you, but I can't be with you"..."I dont' want to be with you but here, help me take off my clothes so I can lie celibately next to you because I really do want you--hey, why are you mad?") that I did not care if they ended up together or not. Actually, I did care; they deserved one another so that no one else would get caught up in their inabilities to make a commitment.
It may seem I'm being overly rough on this story, and perhaps I am, but I've come to expect a much higher degree of world-creation and relationship building from Ms. Marr, and this one has left me flat. I'm giving it three stars, rounded up from 2.5, because there were moments when Daisha and the land of the dead were interesting and rife with possibilities. I just expect more from someone from whom I've experienced tension, magic, and beauty in spades before.
Graveminder tells the story of the Barrow women and Montgomery men, who were tied together centuries ago when the town of Clayton made a deadly pact. It has been the responsibility of the Barrow women to act as graveminders (literally minding the graves of the dead) ever since, with the Montgomery men (undertakers) to act as guide and protectors on their quest to the world of the dead. When Bek Barrow's gradmama, and current graveminder, is found dead, it is up to Bek to carry on the mantle.
The main characters Bek and Byron were nice enough, but they were just a bit too vanilla for my taste. Too cardboard. And Bek was commitment phobic to the point of obnoxious. Frankly, I would have dropped her off a bridge and had a hard time swallowing that any honest to goodness human being would truly put up with such a person for so long, and yet Marr created a hero that has and does. It was just too altruistic to be believable.
Additionally, and I'm not sure if I should feel this way, but the most interesting character of this story was by far Charles, aka, Mr. D and yet he gets very little page time. I can only hope that if Marr does in fact write a 2nd book within this series, that she will write it from his point of view. Afterall, not only is he the most interesting character, but frankly, the world of the dead that Marr has created in "Graveminder" is much more complex and alluring than the town of Clayton.
Overall I enjoyed the story and will look forward to more tales within this series.
After the violent death of her grandmother Maylene, Rebekkah Barrow returns to the small town of Claysville for the funeral. Rebekkah - "Beks" to her friends - knew that her grandmother had little rites that she performed for the dead, pouring whiskey on fresh graves and that sort of thing, but she soon learns that these rituals served a darker purpose: if the dead are not cared for, they will return from the grave. Now that Maylene is gone, the task of the Graveminder has fallen to Rebekkah. Assisting her in the new role is the Undertaker, Byron, a friend and lover from Rebekkah's past. During this transitional period, as Byron and Rebekkah learn their new roles, an evil has been unleashed, and they'll have to work quickly to seal it up once more.
"Graveminder" is one of those books that I wanted to love because the concept was so interesting, but didn't. First, the good. Melissa Marr does an excellent job building the dark, creepy atmosphere. It's almost as if every scene has a shadow cast over it, muting any potential levity and creating an aura of menace. The town of Claysville, on the surface, seems so wholesome and innocent: it's a safe place where people live healthy, uneventful lives. But the price of this safety is the creation of Graveminder and Undertaker, and the evil forces they must keep tamped down at all times. It's a perfectly promising premise for a horror novel.
But then we have the characters. Rebekkah has got to be one of the most singularly annoying women on the planet. She and Byron have had an on-again, off-again relationship for years, and the tête-à-tête between the two of them is unbearable. Every time he starts to get close she pushes him away with "OMG I can't do relationships right now" and runs away. Byron, not the brightest bulb, constantly comes back to her instead of finding a non-crazy woman to settle down with. There was also a LOT of rehash in this book, as characters catch each other up on previous events and have the same conversations over and over again. It seems like every few chapters we're getting a variation of the following conversation:
Byron: We need to talk about us/the past/our feelings.
Rebekkah: No, I can't do that. YOU KNOW I CAN'T DISCUSS THIS. What's for dinner?
Byron: I'm so sick of this!
Rebekkah: Gawd, this again. I'm leaving.
**ten seconds later**
Rebekkah: Oh Byron, I'm so scared to spend the night alone. Since we're completely platonic childhood friends, will you spend the night?
If the main characters weren't so angsty, I'm not sure this endless cycle of repetition would have stood out so much. But as things are, it really slowed the book down and made it difficult for me to finish.
Imagine living in a town where everything stays quiet. There are no diseases to be a afraid of and town life is just simple. The town of Claysville is just this place. The people that are born here stay here not only because they want to but because in their souls they know they have to. A long time ago a contract was put together to ensure the safety of the town and it's people but with this protective bubble came certain complications. For instance, if a couple want to have a baby they must put in an order sorta speak. See the town has to maintain at a certain level, it can not get to big or to little so that life can stay quiet. Another bump in this contract is that when somebody from the town dies the Graveminder must "mind" their graves for three months to make sure that the recently deceased stay put. If they don't then run because the dead are hungry. Most of the towns people are unaware of this contract with the exception being the council and the Priest and even they are limited in their knowledge. When the current Graveminder unexpectedly dies her Granddaughter, Rebekkah , must step in. The only problem is that Rebekkah has no clue what her Grandmother has been doing for all these years. She knows that her Grandmother visited the dead, but as to why she chalks it up to Maylene just being eccentric. So, when Rebekkah returns home to bury her Grandmother her life literally gets turned upside down and she now must face her new future and for a woman who never likes to stay in one place too long this may just be the thing to kill her. This is only the basis for the story, Marr throws in zombies, a leading male hero, Charlie or Mr. D if you will, and a town with many many secrets.
I can not say how much I loved this book. I have never read a book about zombies and you can bet that I will venture into this new world more often. Marr creates such a vivid and frightening world that I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. The book can be gruesome but come on they are zombies gore is expected. I was completely shocked by the ending as well. Fans of Marr will love this new turn that she has taken from fae to zombies and I for one hope that she writes more about Claysville.
What she IS suffering from is poor writing technique. It was extremely hard to get through this 315 page novel- where typically I would fly through a novel this length in several hours, it took me two weeks to struggle through it. Like walking through mud in flip-flops, I groaned through each chapter. What was wrong, you ask?
Read ahead but be careful- there are some SPOILERS possibly contained within.
If the editor (or, hello, writer) of this novel had axed the continually repeated, recycled and regurgitated information this novel would be half the size. I felt like the writer was trying to reach a page length goal instead of focusing on a whole, balanced novel that was interesting the whole way through. Yes, we know that Bek has commitment issues (you'll read about it EVERY chapter as she pushes Byron away and then pulls him close). We know she can't believe the house is "her's" now. Yes, Byron loves Bek despite her treatment of him. Yes, Bek feels a streak of jealousy when she considers that Amity and Byron have been intimate (though oddly, despite the fact that this comes up in triplicate, it's never resolved?). Yes, Byron shot two guards for her (he mentions it THREE times in one evening- each time, several pages a part, as though it's never been mentioned before). Just a few examples.
What's kinda ironic is that this entire novel is supposed to take place in about 3 days only. WOWser.
Maybe someone can remind Melissa Marr that when she's writing for ADULTS she must assume we have a memory bank larger than a hamster.
TWO DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS
Byron loves Bek. He's drawn to her. He can't help it. No matter how annoying she is. He's the undertaker.
Bek is frightened of commitment. She is overwhelmed with loss. She's the graveminder.
Charlie is the guy who runs the underworld. Chris is a cop.
Amity is a bartender who is OK with no strings attached relationships.
Daisha is the neglected teenager.
And on. And on. And on.
For a novel that could have had half of it cut- I'd have liked the see the other 150 pages used to actually develop interesting characters. The way they are written now they are FLAT. They serve a purpose. And that's it. No growth or change outside of MAYBE Bek. But for her it's forced change (her destiny) so not impressive.
For a novel with so much of the SAME information repeated throughout- oddly- the writer contradicts herself quite a bit. Amity asks Byron if he can come over after she gets off... then the very next page tells him not to come over tonight because she's already arranged for something else. So why ask him to come over after work to begin with?
Bek will consider to herself that Maylene (her step-grandma) was the only family she had left... then later think to herself that she's very close with her mother.
Why is it that Byron has a flashback of Ella that pretty much OKs his relationship with Bek but never shares it with Bek? So Bek just struggles for all these years in guilt when Byron could have let her off the hook. Beyond that, in Byron's flashback he tells Ella, on the phone, it's HER he loves, not Bek (it was just a kiss!!!). Then a few chapters later tells Bek he loved HER, not Ella, even before they broke up. So he lied to Ella? Or to Bek?
RANDOM PAGE FILLERS
For a novel that already could be cut in half, there's plenty of random page fillers that have nothing to do with anything. Like why the entire part of the novel where Amity trains Bek for the bar position? It seems purely empty to the rest of the novel and is never referenced again. Why the shooting scene in the underworld? Random searches for information such as letters and journals... Byron loads holy water on his bike like it's meant to do something but it never comes up again. Cherub the cat seems to have no purpose in the novel- why even make a deal of Bek bringing it home in the cat carrier and all this?
JUST PLAIN AWKWARD
Bek coming back in the Victorian dress (almost forgetting she has it on, she wears it for a while and even lays in bed with it on). The idea that there could be TWO Daisha's in one tiny town is just silly. TWICE in the novel a female characters asks the men in the room to leave- the bartender scene was bad enough and then it happens AGAIN in the underworld. Um.... ok. What is this, a Western reference? Both times just plain awkward.
You know- I could go on and on. The point is there was so much wrong with this book. Two stars for an amazing, original idea and gorgeous cover art. Maybe in a future edition the writer could fix some of the major issues. If I hadn't read this as part of a book club discussion I would NOT have finished it.
I'm sorry, Ms. Marr, I'm not usually so harsh. But seriously, for a writer with SOOO MUCH IMAGINATION AND POTENTIAL why would you sell yourself short? Consider hiring a private editor if you're not getting honest feedback through your publisher.