Grave Minder by Melissa Marr
I think I got this book as a deal for my nook and looked forward to reading it. I am a fan of the Wicked Lovely books, including the short story collection from that world, Nightmares and Faery Tales.
In the 1700s, the town of Claysville made a pact with Death to keep its inhabitants safe. That agreement keeps the citizenry healthy until they turn 80, after which time they usually die peacefully. They don't get diseases, physical or mental. It doesn't affect if they are murdered or die in an accident, though. With this blessing comes responsibilities. They have to keep the population in check, not everyone can ever know all the details of how the town works and they need a pair of people who work together to keep the dead in check, the Undertaker and the Grave Minder. These positions have been passed down since the first two took the job.
I'd like to say that I loved this book. I liked it. It was okay. It always felt like I was waiting for something more to happen, for it all to mean more, or be more meaningful to me. I understand the concept, but I still don't really get it. If that makes any sense. The grave minder takes care of the dead in the Claysville Cemetery. Everyone from the town must be accounted for and their graves must be tended. If they aren't, they get out of them and that is really really bad. If they do somehow get out of the grave, the grave minder has to find them and get them over to the Underworld. Charlie, Charles, Mr. D, the Claysville people's representative in the Underworld, meets the grave minder and takes her charge from her. But, it's his job to try to lure her there and due to her position, she feels a pull to be there. So, it's a perilous position for a grave minder. She's alive, but with a strong affinity for the dead. The undertaker is responsible for watching out for the grave minder, and trying to keep her in the land of the living.
I'm assuming this must be a series, because all kinds of characters were set up, and then their story lines just kind of sputtered out. There's this whole thing with Byron, Bek's love interest and her undertaker and weapons and trading with a woman in the afterlife/limbo/purgatory, but it goes no where. This is just one of many loose threads. There are two related story lines about Barrows who want the grave minder job, but I can't imagine why, they never say. They are just all kinds of wicked stepmother and stepsister's about it. Actually, they are a step aunt and step cousins, but you get the idea. By the end, their story was awfully anticlimactic.
I do like Beks and Byron and a couple other characters and I wouldn't mind following further adventures, but it would have to feel like there was something happening. This book just felt like it idled all the way through. You were looking for big things to happen, but they mostly just disappointed.
Now, that I've peed all over Ms. Marr's book. Sorry for that. As always, you don't have to take my word for it. Here is Melissa Marr's website with all kinds of Grave Minder extras. She's got Maylene's scrap book and a book trailer and official song, etc. Check her out. Although, I found this book to be just "meh", I do like her other stories a lot.