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Editorial columns

Book facts
Grave- minder
by Melissa Marr
324 Pages, $22.99

‘Cozy horror story’ an enchanting read

With “Graveminder,” Melissa Marr, author of the best-selling “Wicked Lovely” series for young adults, gives us her first adult novel.

It’s a paranormal romance adventure set in the singular town of Claysville, where two families are tied together by a long-held tradition of tending the dead.

Long ago, the villagers made a deal with the mysterious Mr. D to provide a chain of Undertakers and Graveminders to ensure that all those born in Claysville would make quick and safe journeys to the other side when they die.

And so, for 300 years, generation after generation, one man from the Montgomery family and one woman from the Barrow family have handed down their odd jobs.

Byron and Rebekkah, the new team, are shocked by their sudden call to duty but have no time to question fate: The hungry dead are already wandering the streets.

The town and its antiquated rituals make an appealing setting: the Graveminder, or Last Mourner, ringing a bell as she follows the coffin to the cemetery; the sprinkling of the earth with whiskey; the entrance to the land of the dead behind an old cabinet in the funeral parlor – it’s all splendidly creepy.

But the sexual tension between the new Undertaker and his Graveminder is less compelling than the premise suggests.

The repetitive conversations between Byron and Rebekkah (he tries to get her to admit she loves him; she tries to avoid talking about it) suck some of the energy out of the plot.

Still, I can’t help liking this book. Marr creates sympathetic characters, she takes readers to places both sinister and delightful, and there’s a satisfying end to a wonderfully awful villain. It’s a fast read, spooky enough to please but not too disturbing to read in bed. Fans will be looking for a sequel to this cozy horror story as soon as they read the last page.

Laura Whitcomb is the author of the young adult novels “A Certain Slant of Light” and “The Fetch.” She wrote this review for Washington Post Book World.