Oh my gosh this book was amazing. I love Melissa Marr’s ‘Wicked Lovely’ series, and it was based on that alone that this book was on my wishlist – but after finishing it at some ungodly hour this morning I am oh so glad it was.
The novel walks a brilliantly fine edge between small town American life and horror movie, and strikes just the right balance. There is an underlying tension throughout, and a few nerve wracking moments where I jumped at any noise whilst I was reading, but it’s offset by this cosy small town life where nothing bad could ever happen. It’s equal parts disturbing and comforting.
And the further into the story you get the more the unnerving the contract gets. Never able to leave? You have to apply for permission to have a baby? These things seemed even more weird than the dead rising thing… And I loved how the dead were dealt with. This isn’t your average ‘hey there are zombies!’ book. It takes the idea of the dead coming back and develops a whole new myth and set of rules for them, and this is where some of Marr’s genius shines through. As with the ‘Wicked Lovely’ series, the world and rule building is her strongest point, and I love watching to see how she tackles something new with this book.
And back to the small town life – I love things like this where small towns have founding families and the same roles are passed down generation to generation. I don’t know why I love it, but I do, so it was great to see that used to very great effect here.
The first half of the novel took its time to set up and get going but it in no way dragged – it was nice to take the time to set the scene and get to know the characters before everyone was plunged into the meat of the story. And once it got going – oh good lord it was fabulous. I loved everything about the ‘land of the dead’ and I wanted more of it. It was fascinating to see how Marr had imagined it, the different characters, the rivalries and bids for power and one up man ship between Charles and Alicia. As I said though, I wanted more! One of my favourite scenes had to be when Alicia and Byron first meet each other – fab!
The novel utilises lots of different narrators to take the story on further, which was a neat way to introduce us to more of the townsfolk and get to know some of them a little bit, and also kept the story moving at a good pace. It kept the tension high when one character is off doing something exciting and we skipped off to find out what someone else was doing, but because I was intrigued by every plot line and every character I didn’t find that annoying, which was a bonus because sometimes skipping off in the middle of big things can be a sure fire way to get me irritated with a book.
I also loved how Marr used a character who was dead by the start of the first chapter to propel the story along. Maylene may not have physically been there for most of the book, but she was a vital part through memories, diaries, letters and simply her absence. I love it when an author uses a character who isn’t present just as effectively as a character who is – and Maylene is definitely one of my favourites. She was just such a perfect grandmotherly type, and such a good contrast against the other characters. Actually all the characters were brilliantly written and used, and I loved noting the differences between Marr’s young adult work and this her first adult novel.
And in an age where every book seems to be part of a series it was nice to have a standalone book. If there ever is a sequel I’d love to read it, but the way everything finishes left me satisfied – enough questions left unanswered that I didn’t feel it had all been solved too neatly, but enough tied that I wasn’t frustrated.
So all in all I loved it. It was great writing, a fabulous plot and really well drawn characters. And enough action and sparkling wit to keep it light and moving along briskly. ‘Graveminder’ quickly established itself as a favourite before I was even half way through, and I can guarantee that this is a book I will come back to time and time again. If you’re looking for something a bit different and haven’t got time to deal with a whole big saga of story, ‘Graveminder’ is a brilliant read with a mix of everything to keep you interested. (less)
Oh my god you guys, this book was so worth the wait. I mean, just. Wow. Now let me clarify this wow, because there are several different types of wow for me. This was the wow I love this story because it’s fantasy and it’s epic and it’s about love but so much more than just love between two people. I said this in my last review of the fourth book in the series ‘Radiant Shadows’ – this series is like a game of chess, watching as all the pieces are slotted into place for the grand showdown at the end. And it’s mesmerizing to watch/read.
For some reason the summer court peeve me. I still love them, so it’s not a big peeve, I think it’s simply that Keenan and I have never quite seen eye to eye. He’s a bit too duplicitous for my liking, and I’m not fussed on guys like that. However he really sorts himself out this book, but I’ll come to that later. Anyway, because of him I’ve never been as taken with the Summer Court as I have with the Dark Court. So Books two and four were always my favourites because of how much they focus on the Darker aspects. Actually scrap that, two ‘Ink Exchange’ is just freaking amazing. Fact.
I’m rambling. Sorry. It’s just I really love these books and I tend to gush when I love things.
So whilst I wasn’t so fussed on going back to the Summer Court, I’m glad the narrative did, because it was the final hurrah where all the threads were tied up. It’s impressive on Marr’s part that she keeps so many courts/people/threads together and coherent. There is a lot going on in this book.
I did miss Ani and Dev. I grew attached to them from the last book, and they were the only people missing – everyone came out to play in this instalment. All the tangled love lives and triangles were finally resolved, and the big battle that’s been building since the first book finally happened. And it was awesome.
I hate when battles are built up into this thing of epic proportions and then they happen and it’s just like a balloon deflating *cough* Breaking Dawn *cough*. So things kicked off, and things got bloody, and you know what, I had goosebumps. Everyone came together and were fighting for their lives and their loves, and it was just epic.
And everyone finally sorts themselves out! Although a few things, for example what Keenan does to be with Donia, I did wonder why he didn’t do them sooner, but I guess everyone was growing up to get to this point, so whilst I wonder, it also makes complete sense. But I was so excited that he finally got to be happy. I mean I’m not fussed on him, but I love Donia. She’s so cool, and she’s been through so much and is so strong.
Actually that’s another point I love – Marr creates strong female characters. They are not weak or rely on their men to do the dirty work – they get stuck in, they get their hands dirty, and quite often, they do a better job than the guys might have done. But they are still likeable and human, and I think in that lies their greatness.
My final gushing point is the endings. Now I’m a sucker for happy endings, I love them. But I also love sad endings and people dying, because if you go attack a bunch of people, the laws of logic say you won’t all be in tact at the end.
But, AND PLEASE STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T YET READ THE BOOK, the bad things happen and it’s all heart in mouth high terror stuff, yet everyone gets their happy endings and all the right people end up with the right people, and it’s all good.
It’s summed up pretty brilliantly towards the end of the book Far Dorcha: “The winter court could be his if Donia died. It was a natural order. The child of winter would take his mother’s court. He would grieve, grow bitter, and eventually his mourning would warp into something malicious. Which would be tedious.”
It just makes you think that maybe all this has happened, or something like it, before. And the cycle keeps repeating, and with all this fresh blood, all these new regents, they had a chance to change it, and to make things right. All in all, it was the perfect ending to the series. And I’m sad it’s over, but I couldn’t have wished for a better finale. (less)