Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Author Spotlight: The Grave Keepers by Elizabeth Byrne + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM

Elizabeth Byrne grew up in New Jersey and holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She lives and writes in Northampton, Massachusetts. The Grave Keepers is her first novel.

Title: The Grave Keepers
Genre: YA Paranormal Contemporary
Author: Elizabeth Byrne
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: September 12th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

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 books then this might be something you could actually handle. The best way I can describe it is... it's a light-hearted kind of spooky.

When I first started, I thought the book was going to be slightly historical. Laurel, one of the main characters, just made it seem like she was from an earlier time. I cannot explain is as well I would like to. But then I realized it was a combination of Laurel and the town she was living in. Everything just had this whimsical feel to it for me.

The book has a dual POV narrative. It goes back and forth between Laurel and Athena, the girls are sisters. One is about sixteen and the other is around twelve. We also get another random perspective from a paranormal friend. Sometimes I got a little confused between perspectives but it wasn't enough to deter me from reading it.

Laurel and Athena's family runs a cemetery. But this isn't the normal kind of cemetery, this is a place where you can go to sit in your own grave. Yes, you read that right. You can spent all the time you want in your own grave. You can decorate it however you like. Your grave is your own personal space and no one is allowed to invade is unless invited. So with being cemetery owners, add losing a daughter into the mix and things get pretty weird. Parents become over protective and people in the town look at Laurel and Athena with pity in their eyes even though Laurel wasn't even born when her oldest sister died.

Athena is in high school and it seems like she doesn't fit in. She was the older of the two protagonists but I found myself liking Laurel, the younger sisters, perspective a bit more. Athena takes her grave very seriously and starts spending a lot more time in it. She has it decorated and I think she uses it as a way to escape from everything, her sister included.

In the end, I wasn't entirely sold on the ending but we all have our own endings planned out in our head, right? I would still recommend this book and hope you guys give it a chance! Halloween is coming up. Perfect time for ghost stories!

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.


1) Who is your favorite character in The Grave Keepers?

I feel bad choosing a favorite, but I would have to admit that Laurel stands out from the rest. She’s really where the story started. I’ve always felt protective of her, and even her shortcomings are elements of her character that I would want to preserve.

2) Tell us 5 random facts about you:

Five random facts about me: the only animal I’ve ever hit with my car is a hawk (I still feel terrible); watching Parks & Rec pulls me out of any funk, always; I have an unexplainable fascination with Montana and it’s high on my list of places I’d like to visit; I will be in Iceland when my book comes out—two things I never though I’d say ever, much less together; George Harrison is my favorite Beatle.

3) What was the inspiration behind The Grave Keepers?

The inspiration for The Grave Keepers came from a thousand directions: spending time in the Catskills growing up, lots of camping trips with my family and playing in the woods with my sister, living in New England where there are sprawling old cemeteries all over the dang place, and many books and writers and characters and movies I love, including Shirley Jackson (We Have Always Lived in the Castle), Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters), Roald Dahl, Hocus Pocus, Now & Then (their graveyard seances and tarot consultation, of course), and even Scout Finch and Huckleberry Finn. I feel like they are the patron saints of all YA.

4) If you could only eat 1 food for the rest of your life what would that food be and why?

This is so hard! My first answer was hot dogs, because I love them, but I know they’re so bad for you… So I guess I’ll say my dad’s Sunday roast chicken with carrots and potatoes. Simple and always heaven.

5) Are you currently working on any new books?

Yes, I am trying to! I’ve had a second YA novel cooking for about a year now, but lately it’s been very hard to devote the time to it that I would like to. There is still a lot I need to figure out, but I can say for certain that it takes place in New Jersey (where I grew up) and it concerns a monster and the sinister, mysterious labs of a powerful biotech company, which are located in the hometown of the story.

*This book was sent to me, Jenny @ HelloJennyReviews, in exchange for an honest review.

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