Genre: Psychological Suspense Publisher: Lake Union Publishing Date of Publication: April 11, 2017 Number of Pages: 248 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 knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before. When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst. But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need or putting their lives in danger? The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.
The Grave Tender was a little slow in the first half, and it had a number of small but significant catastrophes that left me a little confused and a a lot curious. It felt like pieces introduced early-on were forgotten (which didn’t help with my confusion), but be patient! The last few chapters of the book tied it all together and all the evil was brought to light, adding to the reveal. As main character Hadley made her way back into town (as an adult - there are flashbacks), the story really picked up. From there, I didn’t want to put the book down because my suspicions became leads and finally answers came pouring in -- and with the answers pouring in, my initial confusion turned to intrigue. The wait was over and the chase in my mind to figure out what was happening in the small little town took flight. I got it miserably wrong, which in the end, made me enjoy this book! Whether I should have judged the book by the cover or not, I did, and I do feel like the cover is misleading. The girl on the cover is not the main character and I’m not sure who she is supposed to be. And the grave tender is not a female at all. Also, I was overwhelmed in the first few chapters with the introduction of character names. Fewer flashes forward and back would have given me a better chance to understand the stages and the characters. This turned out to be more of a psychological thriller and my mind was not ready to think that way, apparently. I formed a plot for this book based on how the cover looked and previous books I had read, and I should have started with a blank canvas. I felt like I had smelled a whole lot of scents and needed to smell a strong coffee bean to clear my scent palate before smelling the next one. I will be reading this a second time, this time with a more open mind (and all the answers!) so I can fully enjoy all the details I must have missed from being blinded to what I thought the story was going to be about. I truly judged a book by its cover and missed out!