Author: Melissa Marr
•Publisher: William Morrow
•Publication Date: May 17, 2011
Opening Line: Maylene put one hand atop the stone for support; pulling herself up from the soil got harder every year.
Three sips to mind the dead . . .
Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."
Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in 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. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.
Although she is still grieving for Maylene, Rebekkah will soon find that she has more than a funeral to attend to in Claysville, and that what awaits her may be far worse: dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility—to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong.
This was supposed to be Melissa Marr's first adult novel and she missed the mark. It reads like a bizarre mix of a YA novel and a New Adult novel. Rebekkah Barrow starts the book with the emotional maturity of a teenager. Byron Montgomery, eventually Rebekkah joins him, is still transitioning between who he was when he left home and who he is expected to become. I noticed that some people consider this a horror novel. If you are very easily scared then this might be true otherwise no. I didn't even get the goosebumps.
The prologue was full of suspense and was cryptic enough that I devoured page after page to see what would happen next. Maylene Barrow was by far my favorite character, unfortunately she does not live to see chapter one. The chapters between the prologue and when Byron officially becomes the Undertaker and Rebekkah finds out she is the Graveminder, which is about halfway through, are slow. It was well written but the suspense is gone and the plot became a little predictable. Things were remarkably better in the last half of the book. The predictability is almost gone and the suspense is back though it does not reach the same intensity it had in the prologue.
I found Rebekkah highly annoying, unsympathetic and slightly distracting. She has a history with Byron, and gives a whole new meaning to love them and leave them. Rebekkah is constantly avoiding her feelings about Byron. She hooks up with him when it's convenient for her and then leaves, sometimes in the middle of the night. Whenever Byron approaches the subject of their relationship, or lack of one, Rebekkah uses sex as a distraction. Eventually she tells Byron to stay out of her life forever and he did until Maylene was murdered. I know I'm complaining a lot about Rebekkah. Byron does bear a little of the blame, he has this whipped, kicked puppy feel to him. But, I'm so tired of heroines who can deal with anything supernatural without blinking an eye, but dealing with their emotions is too scary and must be avoided at all costs.
This book barely made it to 3 Moons. Conceptually it was a brilliant story and I really enjoyed the last half of the book.
"Sleep well, and stay where I put you."
"Three sips for safety. No more. No less. Three on your lips at the burial. Three at the soil for three months."
"Some mortals—like you—are already half in love with death. It is who you are, and I'll not make it harder on you by telling you things you don't need to know. Ask me again when you die. Then I'll tell you everything, anything, nothing."