Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden Cemetery Girl Book One: The Pretenders – Review


I need to, guiltily, admit I sometimes judge books by their covers. When I saw the cover of this one on the Jo Fletcher Books website I knew I had to read it. Then it dawned on me who wrote it and I was already impatient to read it. I am a fan of Charlaine Harris and I know Christopher Golden’s work too – a brilliant duo to create a new graphic novel. Just to add a cherry on top, Don Kramer is the illustrator. I was lucky to win one of the Christmas goodie bags from Jo Fletcher Books and when I received it and saw that it was in the bag, I was over the moon.

Book One in the Cemetery Girl trilogy, titled The Pretenders, is dark and compelling. A young girl is dumped and left for dead on the grounds of Dunhill Cemetery. When she comes round, she has no recollection of who she is and who wanted her dead and why. In the process of trying to survive, as that is the only thing she can do at the moment, she assumes a name taken from the names on the tomb headstones. This way a new heroine is born – Calexa Rose Dunhill. Not knowing what she can do with her life, she just lives from day to day. Until one day something horrifying happens on the grounds of her new ‘home’ and this way she starts realising what purpose her new life might serve. Calexa can see spirits of the dead. But she is not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. In Book One: The Pretenders she helps to serve justice in the case of a missing girl who was murdered and finds friends and allies in unlikely circumstances.

Cemetery Girl is a poignant story of a young girl who is left completely alone and afraid of her own voice. Other characters in the book are also very fascinating – like Mr Kelner and Lucinda whose empathy and unbiased kindness towards Calexa are captivating. I was really taken by the story. It is only a short graphic novel, but the story is well written and the illustrations are stunning.

Apart from the story itself and the wonderful illustrations, I love the transformation of the main character. It’s as if Calexa is reborn as a heroine with a new role to fulfil to guide her on the way to find out what really happened to her. Her fear of not knowing who she is is gradually overshadowed by her embracing the new identity. She makes a perfect heroine with a mysterious past and abilities she still has to explore and develop. There are little bits of quirky humour in it too. Calexa gate crashes all possible funerals. It might be that it’s the only human contact, in the open, she is ready to allow at the moment or it’s a part of her new role as a protector of the cemetery.

I think Book One: The Pretenders of this new trilogy is great and I look forward to following the story of the Cemetery Girl. The trilogy has a brilliant start and I am really curious what Calexa is going to learn about her own past and why she was left to die like that. Both Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden have written a lot of intriguing supernatural characters – for example I can see little bits of Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connelly in it and Christopher Golden’s Buffy.

I like it a lot and anyone who likes a good story and amazing illustrations, then Cemetery Girl Book One: The Pretenders is for you. Read it and enjoy the peculiar atmosphere in it.

A big thank you to Jo Fletcher Books for sending me this book:-)


Author: Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden

Illustrations: Don Kramer

Title: Cemetery Girl Book One: The Pretenders

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books

Format: Hardback, 120 pages

Published: 02/01/2014

ISBN: 9780857389084

Necropolis Glasgow


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