The Grave Tender by Eliza Maxwell
Darkness is rampant in this surprising southern noir book by Eliza Maxwell. Let me say that if abuse is a trigger for you then this is definitely one you should skip. I was drawn in as soon as I read the dedication, “For my mom, who taught me that crazy only counts if it shows.” The story focuses on Hadley Dixon and alternates between her childhood and present day. Hadley’s mother spends most of her time locked in her bedroom, suffering from horrible bouts of depression. Hadley’s father dotes on her and tries his hardest to make the best of their situation. She has a strange reclusive uncle who lives deep in the woods and barely speaks to anyone. Disfigured by a horrible accident when he was young, he prefers the solace of the woods over the gossipy townfolk. The first half of the book is excellent, the suspense mounts page by page and you know something sinister is about to take place but you are not sure what. Then Maxwell pulls the rug right out from underneath you as she hits hard in the second half. It is a difficult, ugly read from this point forward. The life Hadley knew and the family she adored is not at all what they seemed and it leaves Hadley reeling in disbelief. Haunting, disturbing, yet beautifully written The Grave Tender is a shocking tale of deception and betrayal and one woman's attempt to reconcile the truth about her family and the secrets that they keep. Thank you so much to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.