Review: The Grave Winner by Lindsey R. Loucks

The Grave Winner

The Grave Winner
by Lindsey R. Loucks
Series: The Grave Winner #1
Expected Publication: May 15th 2013
Category: YA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: An advance copy was provided by
the author in exchange for an honest review

Leigh Baxton is terrified her mom will come back from the dead — just like the prom queen did.

While the town goes beehive over the news, Leigh bikes to the local cemetery and buries some of her mom’s things in her grave to keep her there. When the hot and mysterious caretaker warns her not to give gifts to the dead, Leigh cranks up her punk music and keeps digging.

She should have listened.

Two dead sorceresses evicted the prom queen from her grave to bury someone who offered certain gifts. Bury them alive, that is, then resurrect them to create a trio of undead powerful enough to free the darkest sorceress ever from her prison inside the earth.

With help from the caretaker and the dead prom queen, Leigh must find out what’s so special about the gifts she gave, and why the sorceresses are stalking her and her little sister. If she doesn’t, she’ll either lose another loved one or have to give the ultimate gift to the dead – herself.

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My Thoughts

First things first — the cover. Does that cover not make you want to start reading this book immediately? Dark, ominous, and a badass heroine – that is the scientific formula for a ‘must read’ book for me. My reaction was one of pure insanity. I think I showed it to my husband several times, begging him to adore it as I did. Eventually I calmed down and read the synopsis. Wow! How much fun does a prom queen coming back from the dead sound? Then Loucks adds in dead sorceresses and a hot cemetery caretaker? Holy paranormal-fantasy goodness! I was salivating like a puppy staring at a pound of perfectly crisped bacon. Yes, I said pound. No one wants just one piece of bacon.

The Grave Winner starts out pretty darn good. The writing is simple, but intelligent. I was drawn in by the raw emotion of Leigh dealing with her mother’s death, standing at the grave with her dad and younger sister. Then shit got creepy real fast and I thought, “Yes! I knew this was going to be awesome!” In fact, now that I think about it, I may have verbalized it instead of simply shouting it in my head.

The Grave Winner is not without flaws, but I expect that from a first book and always take that into consideration. At times Leigh is flat, the narration monotone and very matter-of-fact. Parts the story had a “she did this, and then he did that” kind of a feel to it — most of this being early on and did become more fluid and dramatic as the story unfolded. For the most part, Leigh is very witty and amusing, even making me laugh out loud, as I had fully expected her to be. Her sarcasm is perfectly placed which made it easy for me to relate to her. Her relationship with her best friend, Jo, and their playful banter had me cracking up at times, and I loved that!

“He asked you to marry him?”
“No. But he did ask me to a party this Friday.”
“Start your razors. You could make a hat from your leg hair for him.”

— Lindsey Loucks, The Grave Winner

And let’s not forget about the hot cemetery caretaker and his blonde curls hiding under his green hoodie. What’s his story? Oh, it’s an interesting one! I think the back story could have been fleshed out a bit more, but it was all kinds of awesome, nonetheless.

The level of creepiness soared off the meter every time Sarah, the dead prom queen, made an appearance. I caught myself holding my breath without fail whenever she was on the scene. My reaction to the prom queen easily rivals the heart-stopping fear that whats-her-name in The Exorcist evokes in me when she crawls down the stairs upside down. *shivers*

Overall, I think this is a good, solid start to this YA Paranormal Romance Fantasy series. The humor, paranormal elements, and spine chilling creepiness in this first book were spot on, making this an enjoyable read for me. I will definitely check out the next book in the Grave Winner series!

By the way, Ms. Loucks — I’m STILL feeling itchy, since about half way through. 😉


About the Author

Lindsey R. Loucks

Lindsey R. Loucks works as a school librarian in rural Kansas. When she’s not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she’s dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she’ll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize. She’s been with her significant other for almost two decades.

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Wife, mother, blogger, author, gamer, and a lover of the culinary arts. Toni lives in Michigan with her husband and four children. If she's not writing or curled up with a book, you'll most likely find her playing with her kids, baking cupcakes, or killing zombies.