Author: Melissa Marr
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Rating: 3 out of 5
When Rebekkah Barrow’s grandmother, Maylene, is found murdered in her home, Rebekkah is forced to return to Claysville, a place she wanted to forget. Though she was very close to her grandmother, Claysville has unwelcome memories for Rebekkah, namely the death of her sister Ella. But when Rebekkah returns home, she realizes that there is a lot that she hasn’t been told about her grandmother’s role in Claysville, and though she isn’t sure she wants to inherit it, she doesn’t have a choice.
Melissa Marr’s adult debut is a cross between a gothic novel and an urban fantasy. From the very first page of the book, it’s clear that there is more going on than meets the eye. Marr does a wonderful job creating a sense of dread surrounding the town of Claysville. From the second Rebekkah arrives, the entire tone of the novel changes. It’s clear that there are foul deeds afoot, but no one will explain to Rebekkah exactly what is going on, and there’s a big part of her that doesn’t even want to know.
This mysterious, gothic atmosphere fosters a sense of excitement within the reader for the uncovering of the town’s secrets. And unfortunately, that’s one of the areas the novel really disappoints. For me, worldbuilding is critical in fantasy novels, and I found Graveminder to be lacking in this area. There wasn’t much explanation for what was happening, and what was given seemed to be thrown together rather than well fleshed out. There are promising threads weaved throughout the book, but they are not developed and left hanging. It left me confused and cold. It’s not clear whether this is a standalone novel or the first in a series, but even if it is a series and Marr wanted to leave things vague to have subjects for future novels, the necessary foundation wasn’t established in this book.
The characters of Byron and Rebekkah are interesting and well developted. The reader learns about Byron’s sense of responsibility and loyalty, and the fact that he is hopelessly in love with Rebekkah. He’s a good man, and it’s difficult to dislike him. Rebecca is fleshed out as well, but she is very frustrating. She has an inability to commit for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense. It’s clear she is in love with Byron, but has decided they shouldn’t be together…just because. I didn’t understand it, and by the end of the novel, her inability to commit made me despise her.
Graveminder had a lot of potential, but it fell flat for me. I really loved the premise, but was disappointed with the execution. If more books were written in the series, I would be willing to read them, as there is a lot left unexplained at the end of this book. As a standalone novel, though Graveminder just didn’t work for me. It’s a quick, easy, and entertaining read, which some readers might appreciate, but if you’re looking for something beneath the surface, I’d pass on this one.