Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: June 16th, 2011
Date finished: June 17th, 2011
The town of Claysville is a quiet place, and not entirely like other towns. People born and raised there, tend never to stay away for long, no one ever seems to get sick or addicted to anything, and they have strange funeral practices, where the bodies of the Claysville dead have to be buried within the town limits, and interred within 48 hours of death. Rebekkah Barrow's grandmother, Maylene, went to every funeral, drank three sips from a tiny silver flask with whisky and holy water, and bad the dead to "Sleep well and stay where I put you." She would also visit the graves of the recently dead, tending to their plots and pouring offerings of tea or whisky.
Rebekkah has been staying away from Claysville for a long time, running from the strange pull she always feels to return to the town, and her feelings for Byron, her dead stepsister's boyfriend. Now her grandmother has been murdered in a savage attack, and she has no choice but to return. She soon finds out that there are reasons why the residents of Claysville stay healthy, but rarely leave town, why her grandmother performed the same ritual at every funeral, and why she can't stop longing for Byron, whether she feels guilty about her dead sister or not. Rebekkah has to take over Maylene's duties as Graveminder, or the entire town could be in terrible danger.
I have yet to read the two final books in Melissa Marr's young adult Wicked Lovely series, since the third book didn't grab me all that much, and there always seem to be so many other shiny and interesting books out there. Having read the blurb for Graveminder, her first book for adults, I was intrigued, and once I started reading, I was reluctant to put the book down again (curse work and social commitments!). The story shifts in perspective from Maylene in the prologue, to Rebekkah and Byron and occasionally other town residents, and slowly the mystery of Claysville and Maylene's death unravels. The town founders made a bargain a long time ago, and it's very satisfying to discover just what the bargain entails, and how it came to pass, even while one feels very sympathetic towards Rebekkah and Byron and the enormous burdens that are placed upon them as a result of this bargain.
I would classify this as a paranormal mystery/fantasy rather than a romance, although there is definately romantic tension between the two protagonists, and their relationship develops in a very natural and satisfying way as well. I read on Marr's website that there'll be a short story about one of the more fascinating supporting characters in the book coming out in July, and that she also plans to write a sequel next year. As I'm quite hooked on the world that she's created, I will be eagerly anticipating both.