Title: Graveminder (released May 17, 2011, 336 pages)
Author: Melissa Marr
Redonk Nutshell: A man & a woman fight their predestined roles in their small town up until the violent death of their well-loved predecessor
Official Synopsis: Three sips to mind the dead…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.
I’m stating this right up front – I’m not counting this as a review. Why, you ask? Because I couldn’t finish this book, and I feel damnably guilty about it. Melissa Marr is most known for her goth YA faerie novels, The Wicked Lovely series. I’ve read them and enjoyed them, all embodying a dark and both Goth and Gothic feel. Goth meaning her characters are pierced, tattooed and rockin in a way a Goth person usually does; Gothic meaning the general tone of her books are dark and haunting.
This definitely carries into her first adult novel, Graveminder. Immediately upon reading the first few sentences it’s like I can feel the fog and dampness rolling in, a ghoulish grip that wraps around my imagination and refuses to relinquish its hold. I wanted so badly to read this book, and I was so disappointed in myself for not being able to get “into” it. What few reviews I’ve read of it have all been raves, which made me even more frustrated with myself. I tried, many times, to pick up this book and drudge on, all to no avail. I had to put it aside.
Here’s what I think did it for me. Much like the main characters, we the reader are thrown into a complex and reeling plotline where we’re left to pick up the clues and figure out what’s going on. That didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the unending touch and go between the two main characters, the constant sentences filled with ellipses because they couldn’t figure out how to properly tip toe around each other and their complex, unwanted feelings. These two have spent the better part of their lives fighting what has, more or less, been predestined of them. Instead of sympathizing or accepting it, I found myself put off by it. It drew away from the plot for me, which, in essence, was the brutal murder of the town’s Graveminder, and the ravenous murderer that remains at large. Well, that’s not entirely true. The TRUE plot of this book is Rebekkah Barrow inheriting the role of Graveminder upon her grandmother’s death. Both we, as the reader, and Rebekkah, and the undertaker, Byron, are left to figure out what the heck the Graveminder actually is, and the dire role they play in the town.
I had high hopes for this book, but ultimately I had to concede to the fact I wasn’t in the right place, mentally, to read it. I’m not prepared to dismiss it, however, because Marr is a wonderful writer. I’m temporarily placing it on my Shelf of Doom’s Did Not Finish shelf.
Rating: did not finish