Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What We're Reading: Melissa Marr

I just finished an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Graveminder, the upcoming novel (May 17 pub date) by Melissa Marr (http://www.melissa-marr.com/). Marr has had a large success with her Wicked Lovely series for teens--five urban fantasies (Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows, and the recently published Darkest Mercy, which concludes the series) about interactions between ancient faeries and the modern world. A movie version of Wicked Lovely is in development, due out in 2012 from Universal Pictures, and the library also carries the first in the series of graphic novels based on the series--Desert Tales.

Graveminder is billed as her first adult novel, but I expect that her teen fans will seek it out; it’s a creepy tale that’s sure to appeal to teen tastes too. The tagline on the front cover is “Sleep well, and stay where I put you,” and the opening pages show Maylene Barrow, Graveminder for the town of Claysville, tending the town’s cemetery—planting flowers, weeding and tidying, pouring libations from a flask, and reminiscing with the inhabitants of each grave she passes.

There are a few hints in the first chapter about the unusual ways in which Claysville differs from other small communities—for instance, by law everyone born within the town limits has also to be buried there, which explains the large number of graveyards; there’s a sunset curfew for everyone in the town; and there is a “bargain,” signed by the town’s founders, the contents of which are known to only a few of the town’s current residents. If you’re getting that creepy “Children of the Corn” feeling on the back of your neck, you’re right on target.

The main characters are the new Graveminder, Maylene’s granddaughter Rebekkah, whose restless, nomadic lifestyle is about to change; the new Undertaker, Byron Montgomery, who has carried a torch for Rebekkah since boyhood; and some townspeople who aren’t exactly living, but not quite dead. Del Howison, owner of Burbank's horror bookstore Dark Delicacies, gave a quote for the cover:

“A small town, a curse, and a buried secret—put it all in a grave and stir it up with a shovel. Welcome to the return of the great American Gothic.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book cover to cover, and encourage you to seek it out when it becomes available. Or, save it for a fantastic Hallowe’en read!

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