Beware the hungry dead, for they will rise from the grave to eat.
Maylene Barrow is Claysville's graveminder, a thing far different from a sexton caring for a cemetery's grounds. Death has a contract with her town. As long as the graveminder gives the dead "words, food, and drink," Claysville's citizens will not die before the age of 80, unless from an accident. People born in Claysville rarely leave its comfortable borders. If they leave, they feel compelled to return to the idyllic town. And those born in Claysville must be buried there lest they become one of the Hungry Dead. Death—"Mr. D," or informally, "Charles"—made this contract with the first of the Barrow women, Abigail, more than 200 years ago. Abigail discovered the magic Underground where the dead live, and fascinated with Abigail, Mr. D followed her to the land of the living, unwittingly releasing havoc upon Claysville. The book opens with Maylene killed by one of the Hungry Dead, Daisha, a girl murdered and buried beyond Claysville's pastoral borders. Maylene's granddaughter, Rebekkah, home for Maylene's funeral, learns she is the next graveminder. Romance enters the immortal conflict when Rebekkah discovers that Byron, for whom she refuses to admit love, has also returned and will be her Undertaker, her guide between the worlds of the living and the dead. Rebekkah, in danger from Daisha and other undead who are nourished only by human flesh and blood, has long felt guilt over the suicide of sister Ella, who was to be the next graveminder. Ella chose death and the magic life Underground rather than familial duty. Endangering Rebekkah's mission is Cecelia, Maylene's daughter, burning with hatred because she and her daughters have been passed over. There's minimal exposition and routine character development, but the emotional dance between Rebekkah and Byron will captivate female readers.
Fantasy-horror fans will demand more.