by Melissa Marr
Review by Gayle Surrette
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061826870
Date: 01 June 2011 List Price $22.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Rebekka Barrow was stunned when she got the call that Maylene Barrow, her grandmother, was dead. Somehow she thought Maylene would always be there for her. So, she found herself heading home for the funeral because there wasn't much time, because the people in Clarksville didn't believe in embalming so funerals were held with 24 hours.
As if her grandmother's death wasn't enough of a shock, Rebekka learns that she's to take her grandmothers place as the Graveminder and work with Byron Montgomery, who would take over from his father as the undertaker. The biggest shock is that these jobs are not just titles, the Graveminder and the Undertaker protect the town and keep the contract the town has had for years intact. Oh, by the way, her grandmother didn't die of illness or accident, she was murdered.
Marr manages to make the town, its contract, and the way they live their lives believable. Rebekka Barrow reacts as just about any modern-day women would react to being told she's to keep the dead in their graves and, if they walk, take them through to the underworld. Yeah, right.
But if she doesn't, the entire town will suffer and many will be killed. Do you take a chance that these people are a bit off plumb and walk away? What if it is true? Rebekka did go around to all the cemeteries with her grandmother when she was a child and whenever she visited. She knows the words and the duties, but she needs to know the why and the rules.
Who killed her grandmother? Why was she killed? These questions press more on Rebekka than the insistence that she take up her grandmother's role as Graveminder. As she is reminded constantly by her aunt, she's not even a Barrow by blood. What should she do?
Graveminder begins slowly, building the tension and the confusion as it lays the groundwork for the reader to put everything in context. The main characters are fully developed, but most of the secondary and tertiary characters are simple place holders to move the plot forward with information or actions.
What Marr does is start slow and draw you into the world and then before you know it you don't want to put the book down because you want to know what's happening, why, and who did it. And more importantly, what will happen to Rebekka and Byron.