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The Grave Tender

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  3,964 ratings  ·  464 reviews
A chilling psychological suspense novel, The Grave Tender explores the dark boundaries people cross to save loved ones, and the limits of family bonds tested by the deepest of betrayals.

Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley
Paperback, 236 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Lake Union Publishing (first published January 25th 2015)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  3,964 ratings  ·  464 reviews

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Chelsea Humphrey
You may think you have read dark fiction, but unless you’ve picked up The Grave Tender by Eliza Maxwell then you don’t know the definition of the words. Descriptions such as disturbing, heavy, melancholy, and sorrowful come to mind when I think of what words to use in painting a picture of what this book was. Why in the world would anyone want to read such a story? Quite simply, the writing was beautiful and intoxicating; as languishing as the majority of the story’s content was, the setting ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
WOW! This was such a beautiful, addicting, and dark read.

"Hadley Dixon was living in a house built on crooked beams".

Oh my gosh.. honestly I am not even sure where to begin with this review. Eliza Maxwell has become my new favorite author. I am sooo unbelievably impressed with how beautiful Eliza's writing is. This was my first taste of southern gothic fiction and HUNNY I AM A FAN! :)

This novel has many forms of abuse discussed just a heads up BUT it was not over the top with gore and
Sarah Joint
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I love this book. And part of me feels a little strange about that, because it deals with some terrible things... but it's so beautifully written. I found myself going back and rereading some parts just because something was described in such a lovely or poignant way.

Warning: this book deals with several different forms of abuse. If you're very easily shaken by that, this may not be the book for you. However, it's not overly graphic.

Most of the story comes from Hadley, both from when she
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book deals with some very dark and brutal subjects. Things happen that even as a reader you just want to turn away and not look. Yet Eliza Maxwell does such a great job with the characters and the story that you can't walk away. You have to know what is going to happen. You want to know what really is going on in the Dixon house and you want to know why does Eli stay in the woods by himself. There are a few things that slapped me in the face, I was not expecting them. There were times I ...more
Purple Country Girl (Sandy)
I received a copy of The Grave Tender from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first half of The Grave Tender is excellent. Hadley Dixon, a young girl living in a small Texas town, is the POV used for this part of the book. It has a Southern Gothic feel with the mad, reclusive woman who rarely leaves her bedroom and the scarred man, Eli (Hadley’s uncle), who lives in a small cabin in the woods on the Dixon property. He hardly speaks, preferring to observe the family, especially
Tom Lewis
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’m finding more and more that I love books that keep me thinking about them after I’ve finished; and this was one of them. Adjectives I would use to describe it are haunting, beautiful, touching, and tragic. The book follows a young widowed mother, who returns to her rural childhood home in search of answers to traumas that had plagued much of her childhood. What she discovers are generations of sins kept secret by her family (and even her friends). The book deals with some really dark topics, ...more

The Grave Digger by Eliza Maxwell

I don't see any other books by this author so I assuming that this is her first book. If it is, WOW I mean WOW. This author has natural talent for weaving a story that kept me turning page after page.

By the time I had got 23% into it, I was texting my book buddy Philomena Callan, I knew she had this book on her list to read soon, so I was urging her to hurry up and read it!

Family secrets, family lies, people who are shielding others from the past, from the truth
Sandra ~ ♥ Cross My Heart ♥
*Reviewed at Cross My Heart Writings and Reviews

Wow! What a heartbreaker! My tears were falling way before I reached the end. I knew it was going to be a dark read, touching on some sensitive subjects, but I didn’t know it would rip my heart out and leave me feeling so raw and exposed. This is my first book by Eliza Maxwell, but I’m now highly motivated to seek out and read more. The strong voice and tone of her writing carried this story and these characters through hell and high water, and her
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I had some difficulties getting into this book. The first time I tried it out did I stop after a while and started to read something else. The second time did I still feel some difficulties, but I had seen that several of my friends had really liked this book so I decided to give it a shot. And, the book is OK. It's a tragic story, especially towards the end of the book. But, here lies the problem as well, the first half of the book doesn't have a big impression on me. The characters fail to ...more
Linda Strong
4.5 Stars

Does evil run in families? To what limits would you go to protect your children .. to keep the evil out of their lives?

Hadley Dixon had a dysfunctional family ... or was it even worse? Her mother had never been 'right'. Hadley witnessed her mother douse herself with gasoline and set herself on fire. She had lost 4 previous baby boys and somewhere along the line, her mind just snapped.

Hadley knew her father loved her. He showed her with everything he said and did. But he was also human
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
This is the story of Hadley Dixon, the first 60 pages being when she was a girl and the rest her story when she returns to her home town.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. It was one of those recommendations that sometimes pop up and so decided to give it a go.
I thought this book was wonderful. It is very dark, and gets darker before the end of the book, but the writing and the story were excellent.
I really liked the main character, Hadley, and felt her to be a very real person, which
Sarah Swann
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Do NOT listen to the audio of this book. It's awful. The narrator is not good and he didn't seem to fit for the story. Other than that, I did enjoy the story overall. I was expecting it to be a thriller, but it was more of a family drama with a lot of dark secrets that come to the surface over time. I was shocked by a certain character and his actions. Just wanted a little more from it.
This book had me hooked from the first page. I barely could convince myself to put it down in order to sleep–it kept me up an entire night. An incredible plot, chock full of family drama, heartbreak, and disaster. What a story! Twists galore! One or two I saw coming, but most caught me very much by surprise. And the writing is wonderful, resonant with rich metaphor. A solid five stars! I'm eager to read more by this talented author.

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest
Kristine Hall
For anyone who’s read my reviews or rantings, you know that I am all about the book covers. And this one. . . Even without the word "grave" in the title, it's just a little unsettling. Eeeeeeeeexcellent. (*voice of Montgomery Burns*). I also don't like to read the blurbs and prefer to dive in, so I was happy that within the first few pages of The Grave Tender, I already had the cover and the basic story figured out. Except I didn't, really, and as I read further, everything I initially thought ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The Grave Tender was a unique story with fantastic writing and an amazing setting.

After leaving her childhood Texas home, Hadley wasn't sure she would ever return. However when she finds herself widowed and pregnant, Hadley moves herself and her daughter back home to face the tumultuous childhood she fled from. Raised by a loving father and her grandmother, Hadley survived a mother who was never quite right in the head and an uncle the locals whisper is a monster. When faced with unsolved
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Reader,

This was a hauntingly beautiful tale of family ties,secrets that bind,past events that haunt and impact on the present and the horrific consequences of carefully preserved acts that rarely remain hidden.

A compelling read,one that surprised me by its myriad twists and turns,a tale that invariably sweeps the reader along in its compulsive need to uncover,layer by layer, what lies beneath.Highly recommended.
Jennie Louwes
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hauntingly beautiful.

A true page turner.

Twists, turns, enough to make you nauseous.

Abuse, leads to abuse; survival, lies, secrets, and cover-ups. You learn how to hide until something happens, something changes, and all the masks come off.

This book is fictional but plausible. Real to life. Descriptions that instantly transport you inside of this book's pages.

Enough detail to entrench you but non that makes you turn away. Acts themselves that are disgusting but you, as a reader, are shielded
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing

4.5 stars

After reading The Unremembered Girl by Eliza Maxwell (which is one of my favorite reads this year), I knew I wanted to read her other books as well. Eliza has such a gift for writing and a way to hook a reader from the start. In this book, nothing is as it seems. It was very mysterious and suspenseful. I had so many questions and couldn't wait to get answers to all of them. I loved the flashbacks because that was in my opinion the right way to tell this story. I read this book in one
Philomena Callan Cheekypee
This was a really great read. It's a captivating read that is told very well. I was pretty gripped to this story. The twists were certainly unexpected.

My book buddy Sue read this a few days before me and I loved the texts that she sent while reading it. We have the same kinda taste in books so I knew if she likes it then I would.

This is Hadleys story. Through her voice as a young girl and as an adult we hear of the ups and downs of her life. We also get to read of the lives of the other family
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful written book that weaved in and out into a dark story, but kept me turning the pages. My first time reading anything by this author and would love to read more!
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick, engaging read. Kept me up late reading. Very sad story though.
"'I believe that life is full of tragedy. Some lives more than others. But I also believe that comfort can be found with the people who love you... if you're willing to let them give it."

Good Lord, this book was sad. And by sad I mean reading this book will make you use up at least five boxes of tissues because you're sobbing so hard and all you'll want to do afterwards is curl up in a little ball and eat cookie dough ice cream to drown your sorrows in.

This is the kind of novel where you
Depressing story, but beautifully written Southern gothic. I didn't find it particularly "thrilling" but there were a few sad surprises along the way.
It began to depress me a little bit toward the end, and I had to either set it down or hurry up to finish. If I had put it down, I might not have picked it back up.
Overall, beautifully written but a downer.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bought-kindle
"secrets can be contagious"

Oh pretty covered book - I'm sure this is a case of it's ME and not you. But I just could not connect with this one. I didn't feel any connection to the beginning of the story. It wasn't until about 35% that the story seemed to get interesting and, by then, the case of characters was immense (or at least it felt that way). I was too far gone to try to figure out if Winnie was Gran's daughter but not related to Walker, Eli, or Jude....and Silas, random neighbors and
Sara Kate
What a story... I have no words. This one definitely breaks your heart and shocks you the whole time.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a real surprise to me. Had a couple nights of very disturbing sleep. This was a very sad book, but very realistic. Will certainly be reading more books by Eliza. Found it on Goodreads Gals of the Southwest Book Club.
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***Copy of book provided in exchange for an honest review***

I was completely enraptured by this story from start to finish. There are so many unexpected twists that will have you at the edge of your seat. This story although primarily focuses on Hadley's life each background character plays an integral part in her character development we get to experience their POV's as well which is very uncommon not many authors do that. We first experience Hadley's grief and her complete destruction as a
Danielle Rotko
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars! This was a beautiful book. So very haunting and tragic, but beautiful nonetheless. This is the first book by Eliza Maxwell that I have read, and she blew me away. Her writing is so eloquent and the story line progression was flawless. If there's one thing that absolutely ruins a book for me, it's a choppy story line. So when I read a book like this, where the story flow is smooth as silk, I literally swoon. This is also one of those books that jumps back and forth from the past to the ...more
Listened to this one on audio. It starts out really good. I really liked Hadley's POV but once it switched POV's the book kind of lost me. I had to rewind a couple of times because she added new characters and POV's which confused me. I couldn't figure out who was related to who. It also got very disturbing with the amount of abuse. If I was physically reading it I probably would have DNF'd it but the narrator was really good so I continued to listen to the end.
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Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with a patient man, two impatient children and a bird named Sarah. When she's not working on her next novel, she stays busy trying to keep her children from some future therapist's chair.
You can reach her at
“I believe that life is full of tragedy. Some lives more than others. But I also believe that comfort can be found with the people that love you . . . if you're willing to let them give it.” 2 likes
“I believe that life is full of tragedy. Some lives more than others. But I also believe that comfort can be found with the people who love you . . . if you’re willing to let them give it.” 0 likes
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