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The Grave Keepers

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  145 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Lately, Athena Windham has been spending all her spare time in her grave.

Her parents—owners of a cemetery in Upstate New York—are proud of her devoutness, but her younger sister, Laurel, would rather spend her time exploring the forest that surrounds the Windham’s’ property than in her own grave.

The Windham girls lead secluded lives—their older sister died in a tragic acci
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by HarperTeen
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Rating details
Sort: Default
Feb 21, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2017-releases
22/02/17 — this sounds...strange, and therefore I am interested.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars

The Grave Keepers is a standalone Young Adult novel.

I can't exactly say what genre this book is. There is a ghost so it has minor paranormal elements.

At first I could not tell if this was a contemporary novel or if the story was set in some alternate universe. Basically the world is exactly how it is now, except that many people (who are alive) spend time in their graves. They decorate them and think in them. It is a completely original concept. But it's completely bizarre.

The narrat
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book a lot. I hadn't heard any buzz about it, but I randomly saw it in the store and decided to give it a chance. Because honestly? A story about a family who lives at a cemetery and takes care of graves? Sign me up.

On top of having a neat concept and a unique world, this book is also full of interesting characters. Laurel is probably my favorite - something about her free spirit really reminded me of my youngest cousin when she was little, so as I read I grew to be extra f
Bekah Crozier
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting read- would have received 5 stars if the ending had just been a bit better ;)
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wish the ending had been a little more solid, but I really liked this. Somewhat strange how it was set in present day because it feels like a book out of time. Mulling it a bit.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Grave Keepers is a Young Adult book that I would say borders on Middle Grade. I think the topic of death is what makes some people push it over to the YA side of things. I am not really big into the MG book genre so this book was a little slow and hard for me to get into at first but after about thirty pages it picked up the pace for me. This is a great ghost story for younger readers and I highly suggest it. If you are one of those people who get easily scared and keep away from spooky book ...more
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
Aug 27, 2017 marked it as did-not-work-for-shannon-so-dnf  ·  review of another edition
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Maybe this is a situation where it isn't the book, it's me? I was kind of confused about the premise in general- it seemed contemporary, but what is the meaning of the grave keeping? Does everyone in the world do this? What about cremation? I have no idea. And maybe if I had finished it, I'd know those answers. But alas. 

I made it to 33% before calling it. And, as you well know, this is
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
The Grave Keepers by Elizabeth Byrne is an odd book - a good one, but definitely an odd one. Such a unique book is a bit difficult to review without major spoilers.
Here goes: The story's premise of a religion/cultural tradition of tending to your own grave (with doors, locks, keys, and decorations, etc. from the age of thirteen - beginning with a Quincinera-type coming-of-age party, but totally grave-centered) is bizarre, to say the least. Throw in a supernatural twist (a lone, lonely ghost tha
Luke Reynolds
Unfortunately, The Grave Keepers felt too flat despite its lyrical and quirky prose. There was also a lot going on and yet it didn't really feel like a lot was happening. The sister relationship wasn't to my liking as well. I really wanted to be closer than they were. There was no love, though. It was all bitterness.

Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
- Concept
- Sibling relationship
- Ghosts
- Setting
- Cover

- Loose ends
- Dull
Miriam Joy
It took me a while to get into this book as I found the worldbuilding confusing, and to be honest, the worldbuilding was probably also the part I was least keen on. Which was, sadly, most of the book.

The premise revolves around the idea of decorating and maintaining your own grave throughout your lifetime, and the various ceremonies and taboos and things that arise because of that (e.g. not entering other people's graves, the 'opening' ceremonies once people reach a certain age, etc), but there
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, edelweiss, 2017-read
The Grave Keepers by Elizabeth Byrne has been on my radar for months now. The synopsis was so vague and strange and pretty much instantly caught my attention. I had no idea what this story was going to be about but the unknown is what made me want to read it even more.

In this version of our world, everyone gets access to their grave at the age of 13. Your grave has a door and a key that only you can open. It is encouraged that you go and visit your grave often for the rest of your life because y
Katie Higgins
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I know this is a pretty dull and cliche thing to say but, THESE TEENAGERS WERE GOOD. They were really believable and unique without being boring or cliche themselves. The two sisters fought in a pretty typical way, balancing bickering with sort-of getting along, without really trying to understand each other. Laurel, as a slightly immature thirteen-year-old (due to her parents sort-of-creepily keeping her in the house and fostering a strong anxiety about the outside world), was still witty and b ...more
Kelly Roll
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unusual-ya
The Grave Keepers focuses on two sisters, Laurel and Athena Windham. Their parents are the towns town grave keepers; They care for the grounds; make gravestones and provide a sort of wedding type business, they do set up and clean up; and provide a grave cake for individuals at their grave opening ceremony. In this world, at the age of thirteen young people are given the key to their grave. Once they are given the key they are expected to spend time in their grave in contemplation. They may deco ...more
Jennifer Shapiro
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
So far a lot of the 2017 releases I’ve read can only be classified as uniquely strange. This book fits that category very well.

Set in what could be considered the real world, in this novel people put a lot of stock into thier graves and the upkeeping of them. A grave is decorated, opened, and sealed with great ceremony similar to how we celebrate coming of age milestones in real life. This whole concept is unique and takes a litle bit of reading to fully understand. I believe the author based i
Amy Layton
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Starting off, I knew that this was going to be a fun little read (I love anything that's death-related), but I didn't expect to get so into it.  I mean, honestly, how dare a book about death get me upset...about death??  Uncalled for.  (Translation: Totally called for).  

Also, I gotta say upfront that I am super biased because a) I love speculative fiction, b) I love it when the setting/world is just left of plum to our world with no explanation, and c) I love loose endings.  

In addition to deat
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In an alternate reality where spending time in your grave is just as much a part of your daily life as your afterlife, the two Windham sisters and family own a cemetery, grave keeping is in their blood. Athena spends most of her free time in her grave and her parents are proud. Laurel prefers to spend her hours wandering their family’s estate and woods. The girls lived secluded lives due to a tragic accident that claimed the life of the oldest Windham sister. However, changes are afoot for the W ...more
So this will rather be a comment than a real review, because to be honest I have pretty much nothing to say about this book.

It's one of the rare, if not the only time someting like this happens to me. Usually, even if I disliked a book, I have something to say about it: flaws, things that disturbed me and even some good points sometimes! But here, I just don't know... You can't even imagine how frustrating it is. Even with bad books, I have several quotes I picked from the book to at least give
Emily Bell
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
What I Liked
The concept of one's grave kind of being like your private bedroom where no one can enter and you can spend as much time as you'd like alone, lost in your thoughts, is an intriguing one.

I'm not usually a huge fan of paranormal, but I enjoyed the presence of the ghost in this text. She livened up everything in the story and made it fun and even tense.

I loved Athena's character. Although she also seemed a little aged-down for an 11th grader (read below), her insecurities and struggle
Hannah Saxton
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-1-10
The Windham family are the grave keepers of the local cemetery. The oldest Windham daughter died in a tragic accident, forcing the family to become outsiders in their town. Athena Windham seems to spend all her free time in her grave and her parents love this. The other Windham sister, Laurel, loves to explore and wants to have her sisters life. The sisters deal with friends, bullies, and a run away boy in the cemetery all the while there is a ghost hanging around the Windham house. The family s ...more
Ella Thomas
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
"Some people, like her mother, believed grave keeping helped a person face her mortality, and thereby live a better life. Death was the permanent thing - life was just a prelude."

This book had a very unique premise: When you turn 13, you celebrate your grave opening where friends and family come and celebrate and gift you with items to decorate your grave, in which you alone may enter and contemplate your life (or death.) In today's culture, eapecially in America, death is something that is tau
Erica Sonzogni
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-books
Imagine life as we know it today- except that when you turn thirteen, you receive your own grave to care for and live in until the time of your death. That is the foundation of the young adult novel The Grave Keepers. In this complicated plot, the Windhams, who own a cemetery and are professional Grave Keepers for the town, deal with the loss of their daughter, a kidnapping, teenage school drama, and a ghost who haunts the graveyard. All of the storylines come together at the end, when one of t ...more
Stephanie Tournas
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
In this clever novel set in rural New York state, everybody acquires a grave at age 13, which they tend and where they go to think and have time to themselves. It feels like a realistic and down to earth (pun intended!) way to see life, as a precursor to death. But the first voice the reader hears is a that of a ghost who haunts the family, specifically sisters Laurel and Athena, daughters of the family that oversees the cemetery. This adds an air of ghostly intrigue as the two sisters strive to ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
If this book had been mostly, or only, Laurel's story, it would have been a solid three stars. It wasn't particularly fantastic or anything, but Laurel's portion was enjoyable, and whimsical in a nostalgic way. The way the grounds and forest were described made them seem unmoored in any one time period, and it made me want to go out and explore my own woods. The plot was fairly tropey, but I liked the tropes they used, and they didn't negatively impact my enjoyment of the story.

Sadly, the At
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the concept, but I wish I got more of the “lore” or the background of why people started doing this. I felt like I fully grasped the concept halfway through the book, which I feel is a lot longer than I should have taken.

The characters were a little dull and had nothing special about them..I thought the ghost would pull things though make this book more interesting, but, unfortunately, it did not; it just caused a bit of trouble. I wish there was more written about the ghost.
Jean Dory
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The Grave Keepers" is for young readers. I confess I am not! But as a mother and a teacher, I highly recommend this book. Ms. Byrne's writing style is excellent, and the colorful vocabulary would enrich that of a young reader. More important, however, is the message woven beneath the curious ghost story--no one should be shunned or discriminated against, everyone needs a friend, even the "cool" kids are insecure at times, and--delightfully--school is FUN. The ending seems a little weak, but thi ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
DNF @20%

This book is written in 3rd person and oscillates between the point of view of two sisters. Sometimes the point of view of the two sisters switches back and forth as often as occurring in the same paragraph. The way this was written was frustrating to read. Confusing and challenging. As much as I liked the cover and the premise it wasn't enough to keep me reading it.

***Advanced copy obtained from Harper Teen via Edelweiss***
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A weird and lovely book. I think it's easy not to "get" this book, or to not know exactly who it's for, and that's kind of what I like about it. It doesn't fit neatly into too many boxes - middle grade, YA, paranormal,'s all of those and more. I picked up an ARC at a friend's "please take my books" moving away purge simply because of the cover and title, and I'm quite glad I did. I'd love to read more form this author.
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