Once in a while (not often when you read as much as I do), a book comes along that is amazing, surprising in its originality. Melissa Marr’s Graveminder is such a book. It’s not new. It won the Goodreads Readers Choice Award for Best Horror for 2011. However, with the paperback just out, I had the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the book. And, honestly? I can see why it’s called horror, but it isn’t horrifying. It’s remarkable.
Two people have the responsibility of keeping the people of Claysville safe. One is the Graveminder, and the other is the Undertaker. They have a partnership and a duty to the community. Only a few people in town understand the relationship, the mayor and the city council. And, those people were the only ones who knew the town’s secrets. But, when Maylene Barrow, the Graveminder, was killed, it was time to call her granddaughter, Rebekkah, home. Claysville always lured its residents back. By law, everyone ever born within town limits had to be buried there. The town founders made a bargain. Rebekkah Barrow might not have known anything about the original bargain. But, she was a Barrow woman, and she inherited the job of Graveminder.
Rebekkah had felt tied to Byron Montgomery for years, but, after her stepsister’s death, she tried to break those ties. However, Byron’s father was the Undertaker to Rebekkah’s grandmother, and Byron felt the call to come back to Claysville even before Maylene died. Now, the two of them learned that they had an unbreakable connection. If Rebekkah was to be the Graveminder, Byron was her Undertaker. They were part of a long chain, “Held accountable for keeping the town safe when there is trouble. We are what stands between the living and the dead.”
The Claysville dead were supposed to be properly buried within 48 hours of death, and then they were to be minded by the Graveminder.Three sips ofrom a silver flask, then the words, “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.” But, when Maylene Barrow was killed, something was horribly wrong in town. It didn’t matter that Rebekkah had tried to run from Byron for years. It was now her job to come home, and make things right. It was Rebekkah and Byron’s job to tend to the dead.
If Graveminder sounds creepy, believe me, it isn’t. It’s a beautifully written, engrossing story of two people learning to accept their proper role in life, even though they are unusual roles. It’s fascinating to watch these two remarkable characters grow into their new lives. Graveminder is a ghost story, a horror story with two strong people who survive because of their love, love for each other, and love for their community. Marr’s descriptions are unusual, and fascinating. It’s a story of the natural world of death, corrupted. And, as much as I’d like to tell a little more, I can’t without spoiling the story itself.
Melissa Marr’s Graveminder is an unusual, gripping story. I’m hoping there will be a sequel. There are so many Claysville stories left to tell.
(On a personal note, the new book cover is the one at the top of the post. On her website in a December post, Marr says, “The trade paperback edition of the book-with a different look, aiming for haunting instead of creepy-is out next month.” I’m ending with the cover of the hardcover, so you can see it. Frankly, I preferred that one.)
Melissa Marr’s website is www.melissa-marr.com.
Graveminder by Melissa Marr. HarperCollins. 2012. ISBN 9780062115164 (paperback), 352p.
FTC Full Disclosure – I already had an ARC sent by the publisher in hopes I would review it, so I used that for this blog tour.