Thank you Netgalley and Delacorte Press for a copy of Gravemaidens in exchange for an honest review.
Published Date: October 29, 2019
Read Date: October 15, 2019
Format: ebook galley
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 2/5 Moose
Kammani has already dealt with enough heartache. Her mother has died, her brother has been taken by the court, and her father is drinking away his days in bars he cannot afford to pay. Things can’t get any worse.
But now as her city’s ruler falls ill, and the city has started to prepare for his death. This includes the selection of three gravemaidens to accompany him along to his death. And unfortunately for Kammani, her sister Nanaea has been chosen. While the rest of the city sees this as an honor, Kammani sees it for what it really is: a terrifying death.
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
Oh boy, okay. I know part of this is my fault: I was swayed by a gorgeous cover and the promise of a dark story. I already have a rough relationship with YA fantasy, and I am starting to realize that YA fantasy that promises to be dark and disturbing is even worse for me. Does this book promise that? I mean, it’s called Gravemaidens. There is discussion of danger lurking and the ferryman between the world and the afterlife. It just seems like it should be macabre.
Unfortunately, this book is just….kind of boring. I have trouble staying in a story when I don’t care for the main characters, and this book didn’t really have any characters I loved or that stood out. Kammani thinks and talks repeatedly about how she’s had to grow up too quickly and take care of the house after the death of her mother and the fall from grace, but it is so much telling and not a ton of showing. This causes her to come off as more whiny throughout the entire book, rather than more Katniss, I guess. I got strong Katniss-esque vibes, but without much of what I love about Katniss. Hunger Games has downtime to show the hardships of District Twelve, while Gravemaidens just keeps telling you they’re there.
While Kammani comes off as whiny, her sister comes off even worse. Every time Kammanmi and her sister are together, the fight and are awful to each other. I would have almost appreciated a story of Kammani reluctantly saving her sister because it was her mother’s dying wish or something, rather than this. We are told why she wants to save her, but really overall, it never makes sense below a surface level.
There are plenty of other throwaway characters to be sure: the one note best friend, the one note “boyfriend,” the questionable princess, and the questionable guard-friend. It unfortunately just doesn’t mesh ever. There isn’t a love triangle, but the love story doesn’t make sense. Kammani is annoyed every time her “betrothed” offers to help because she takes it as pity, but ….why? Oh, and two other Gravemaidens.
Also, she is dead set on saving the king in order to save her sister. But so much of the time she’s at the castle she’s at parties, acting like it is so hard for her to get away. Or she’s whining about saving him….but doesn’t spend enough time actually trying anything??
Overall, this book had unfortunately flat characters, an obvious twist, no real world building outside of made up words. It could be something more, but unfortunately it just isn’t. And it really is kind of bad when I can’t make enough work for a collage, mostly out of fear that I’ll appropriate the wrong culture.