When this book came out in hardcover, I initially heard some good buzz about it and had been curious to read it. I had never read any of the books in Marr’s Wicked Lovely series, but I know that she has an intense fan base, and that those books, targeted towards the YA audience, are loved by a lot of people. When the opportunity came to review this book, I was elated and eager to get started. I knew so little about the premise, and everything I discovered between these pages was so colorful and brightly rendered that I had a hard time tearing myself away. Though there were some elements that I grew a little less enamored of, I really enjoyed Marr’s skill at worldbuilding and all the special touches and flourishes that she so expertly placed within the narrative.
The basic premise of this novel lies in an agreement that the town made several generations ago with Death himself. The dead need to be minded and kept where they are. If they get unruly and return to this world, they need to be escorted back to the Underworld. This is where Marr’s skills delight and enthrall. Her version of the Underworld is full of exquisite promise, full of inhabitants from every period in history, complete with habits and dress. There are gangsters and cowboys and high society ladies in rich and elegant costumes, and the city where they all reside is lush with various architecture styles that vary in complexity and are faithful even in their tiniest detail. There is Death himself, also known as Charlie, the gentlemanly trickster that holds all the cards and keeps most of them up his sleeve. Into this world comes Rebekkah, a wayward young woman who is one part drifter and two parts skeptical and heartbroken girl, who must claim the legacy left to her by her treasured grandmother. Just as the new Undertaker is commissioned, so is Rebekkah, and despite her disbelief, one trip into the land that houses the dead is enough to show her that her duties are real and very, very important. I loved the backstory that was given to cushion this world and the wide variety of characters that populated Charlie's domain. They were all very deftly created and fleshed out this world for eager readers like myself.
I wasn’t as crazy about all the vacillating on Rebekkah’s part regarding the nonnegotiable choice of protector. There was a push/pull with these two characters that was at first very romantic and true, but later became frustrating and at times even pointless. Rebekkah didn’t want him but she didn’t really want anyone else to have him, and in her secret heart, he was her only love. What was frustrating about this was the lengths she went to repeatedly deny this, and even when it was clear that she was lying to herself and everyone around her, it continued on in this vein up until the end of the book. All this felt like emotional filler and left me more than a little disenchanted when it came to the nuts and bolts of the story. I would have loved to see more progression when it came to this element of the narrative, but sadly, this was not to be. I guess I just don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to characters deceiving themselves in matters of the heart.
Rebekkah begins her stint as Graveminder already at a disadvantage, because some of the dead are already on the loose, causing a ruckus, and it’s a steep learning curve to get them contained. Here the book takes on the atmosphere of a supernatural thriller, and it was a welcome distraction from the relationship woes that Rebekkah is suffering from. I found this plotline to be both exciting and rather curious, because a lot of the backstory surrounding this possibly nefarious Underworld was revealed through the Hungry Dead who were making the town less than hospitable. This section was also rather unpredictable, which I also liked, and though I knew where Marr was going in relation to Rebekkah’s personal conundrums, this side of the story seemed fresh and groundbreaking in terms of the implications it made. Though everything was tied up at the end (not too neatly, I might add!) I suspect that this might be the first book in a series, because a lot of room was left in the narrative for further enhancement.
I really enjoyed this book, and if it wasn’t for the slight niggle I felt about all the back and forth whinging relationship woes, this would have been a stellar read. I’m certainly more than eager now to try out Marr’s Wicked Lovely series and will be rather excited to see which direction that series takes as well. Fans of worldbuilding and supernatural books will not want to miss this one, despite its slightly off kilter interpersonal and repetitious meanderings. A fun book to get lost in and savor. Recommended.
About the Author|
Melissa Marr grew up believing in faeries, ghosts, and various other creatures. After teaching college literature for a decade, she applied her fascination with folklore to writing. Wicked Lovely was her first novel. Currently, Marr lives in the Washington, D.C., area, writes full-time, and still believes in faeries and ghosts.
[Melissa Marr on Facebook]
[Graveminder Facebook Fan Page]
[Wicked Lovely Facebook Fan Page]
|A warm thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing this book for me to read and review. Please continue to follow the tour by visiting these other blogs:
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.