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The Advocate

Gravestone by Travis Thrasher

Reviewed by Darcie Gudger

"Gravestone and it’s predecessor, Solitary, are fresh and artfully written."

He witnessed a horror beyond his imagining.

It wasn’t the first time innocent blood was shed.

No one believes him.

He’s told over and over again to leave It alone.

What. Is. It?

Chris Buckley and his mom move to Solitary, North Carolina from Chicago after a bitter divorce. Solitary is where Chris’s mom grew up and where her brother Robert lives… or lived. He’s missing. No one is willing to talk about what happened to him until a man claiming to be Robert’s son shows up.

Nothing about Solitary is normal. The town is down right creepy. Teens disappear and families suddenly move away in the middle of the night. Tunnels stinking of death meander underground. Biting bluebirds guard the old inn on top of the hill. And every time Chris brings up the weirdness of the place, he’s either beat up or told to mind his own business.
Chris wants answers so he joins forces with his cousin to solve the mystery of the town of Solitary. But someone in the town doesn’t want light to shine on those dark secrets.

Solitary, the novel, must be read first in order to make sense out of Gravestone. Travis Thrasher employs a vague and ambiguous writing style throughout the novel. Readers may feel the author is toying with them or not playing fair by having the characters talk around the action, but that’s what makes this story work. It’s also Chris’s reality. It’s the voice of Solitary.

Readers don’t watch Chris’s frustrations grow as the plot develops; they feel it. Readers don’t just read about Chris, they become Chris. And that’s a direct result of Thrasher’s writing style. There is no good place to put the book down to get a snack or answer nature’s call. Once you’re in the story, you’re there. Both my husband and my son chided me for reading at the table during dinner. But I couldn’t stop. It’s rare I am this compelled to stay immersed in the page.


Gravestone and it’s predecessor, Solitary, are fresh and artfully written. Chris is such a likeable character. He’s not perfect. He’s funny. He’s brave. He’s relatable. I can’t help but root for him. I worry about him. That whole “what’s he getting into now?” never lets up. It intensifies.

My only complaint is that I have to wait until the next book to find out what happens next. Thrasher leaves the reader suspended at the end surrounded by questions.

Teens who enjoy supernatural thrillers and fantasy such as the Twilight series and Hunger Games may enjoy reading Thrasher’s Solitary and Gravestone. Dark themes are present. Some scenes are violent and gory, however, the difference is that an undercurrent of hope resonates through the darkness of Solitary. Hope that in the end, light will destroy the darkness once and for all.

Oh, and there aren’t any sparkly amber-eyed vampires or mutated bees.


Darcie Gudger is a freelance writer currently working on a young adult novel while trying to solve all the mysteries of motherhood with her adopted son, Kyle. In her spare time, she coaches the 2A Colorado State Champion Sheridan High School colorguard, judged equipment for the Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association and sings for the Bear Valley church choir and worship team. An adventure-seeker who lives and writes in the shadow of the Rocky mountains, Darcie loves hiking, camping, cycling, photography and keeping her husband guessing. Visit Darcie online at her blog, Joy in the Litterbox.