By Melissa Marr
Rebekkah has spent most of her young life running away from the town where she lived briefly as a teen. The years weren't many but they were filled with love from her stepfather and grandmother. Then her mom split with her stepdad and she's pretty much been on the move ever since.
Until she receives a late-night call that Maylene, the woman who became her grandmother, has died. Rebekkah heads right back to Clayville, noticing that her ever-present feelings of anxiety disappear when she crosses the city line. Even though she's with Byron, the boy she kissed once, betraying her late stepsister, and even though she and Byron have the biggest "oh we shouldn't" but you know they're lying thoughts. The anxiety even stays away when she discovers Maylene was murdered.
Instead of falling apart, Rebekkah steps into her heritage handed down by Maylene, and Byron steps into the legacy his father will soon leave him, in Melissa Marr's debut adult novel. She takes it in stride that she is now the town's Graveminder, charged with the duty of making sure the dead stay in their place, and Byron is the town's Undertaker with the duty of protecting her. She handles that and a visit to a city of the dead, overseen by Charlie, or Mr. D (as in "Death") better than she handles still being attracted to Byron.
Perhaps that's a bit understandable, though, because it appears that once her stepsister learned about the Graveminder job and met Charlie, she killed herself to stay in Charlie's town. After that, Bek and Byron were destined for each other, according to the contract Charlie signed with the town's fathers generations ago.
Staying with the demands of today's paranormal action novels, Bek and Byron get right to work taking care of the raised dead who are killing people, including Maylene.
Although it makes for a stronger storyline that there is a reason the dead are up and at it, all the world-building plus romance plus solving this mystery make for a novel that's overloaded on plot. That's a pity because Marr shows in her prologue that she could have written a much stronger character-driven story without giving in to the demands of today's plot-driven genre conventions. Now that the world is built, more Graveminder stories will be welcome. One is coming in this summer's Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy, edited by Ellen Datlow. I'm going to get a copy.
©2011 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and reprinted with permission