April 21, 2012

Review: The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Series: Graveyard Queen 1
Format: Digital

Release Date: April 19, 2011
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.

It started with the discovery of a young woman's brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I've been hired to restore. The clues to the killer—and to his other victims—lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

I had The Graveyard Queen for a while but it's only now that I've gotten around to it. After reading one vampire or werewolf story after another, I decided that maybe ghosts will perk me up a little. And it did but not in the happy-happy-joy-joy sense but more like are-you-afraid-of-the-dark if you know what I mean. The chances of having first-hand experience with ghosts and hauntings are higher than the probability of meeting a real vampire, shifter or even angels in real life so suffice to say my hackles were raised.

Because what the dead want more than anything is to be part of our world again. They're like parasites, drawn to our energy, feeding off our warmth.

So after reading something so foreboding as this I know that this is going to be one exciting series to follow. First off, I appreciate a well-researched story even if it's fiction because it should still have a ring of truth to it to be relatable. So Amanda's take on taphophiles was very interesting and enlightening, I am not fascinated with death or funerals but I can appreciate the peace and Gothic beauty of old cemeteries plus all those symbology reminded me of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons & Da Vinci Code. There's nothing more menacing than a calculating madman out killing people for some occult purpose and Stevens delivered, it was all tied together neatly with a little bow on top.

Amelia's characterization was amazing in this book, she's prime for some interesting things that will do wonders for her character development in the succeeding books. She's a pretty, smart, unassuming blond with a wonderful childhood and a hint of mystery concerning her past. She's always followed the rules, concentrated on her job and basically living a peaceful life doing something she loves. Until she met Detective John Devlin.

Keep your distance from those who are haunted, if they seek you out, turn away from them, for they constitute a terrible threat and cannot be trusted.

John Devlin is tall, dark, hot, magnetic, rebel black sheep and literally a haunted man. His wife, Mariama, and child died in a tragic accident and his last moments with them were spent in heated argument. This plus a ton of regret is the weight on his shoulders that he's carrying for a long time. What he doesn't know is that his wife and kid are haunting him, they are on his side which Amelia obviously sees but can't do anything about. Now Mariama is another point of interest for me, there's something transcendental about her haunting, similar to voodoo or something to that effect. Stevens didn't unfold Mariama's back story in this book aside from her shared history with Devlin but I can sense that she's going to play a part in the story at some point, stirring something between Amelia and Devlin. 

I like Amelia and Devlin, they obviously gravitate towards each other but I can also tell that it'll be a bumpy road between these two which will do wonders their characters', Amelia's in particular, will evolve. Devlin is everything his father warned her against not only that he is not what you'd consider a "comfort zone". The man is passionate, intense and consuming, his grief doesn't turn off Amelia but does the opposite. Like her love for restoring graveyards, there's a part of her that's drawn to Devlin with the hopes of probably healing him and helping him get over Mariama and his child.  And I can tell that Stevens is going to poke holes on Amelia Grey on the next two books as she uncovers Amelia's father's secret and her connection to the afterlife and The Others.

The sexy isn't too much in this book but it's heavily laced with emotions and double meanings. The part where Amelia and Devlin did the nasty, I feel like Stevens implied that Amelia was under the influence of something or someone. Amelia herself is thinking that her primal response to Devlin is so out of character for her, to me it was reminiscent of how her friends described Devlin and Mariama's relationship. So I was thinking, was Amelia influenced by Mariama in some way? 

Hopefully these nagging questions will be answered in The Kindgom.


Novella: excerpt here
When her favorite patient at a private mental hospital passes away, psychology student Ree Hutchins mourns the elderly woman's death. But more unsettling is her growing suspicion that something unnatural is shadowing her.

Amateur ghost hunter Hayden Priest believes Ree is being haunted. Even Amelia Gray, known in Charleston as The Graveyard Queen, senses a gathering darkness. Driven by a force she doesn't understand, Ree is compelled to uncover an old secret and put abandoned souls to rest—before she is locked away forever....

An ebook exclusive prequel to The Graveyard Queen series.

THE ABANDONED is the series prequel and its a sample of the kind of journey we're in for in case we decide to move forward with The Graveyard Queen Series. I read this first before The Restorer because I like my series to be in order, I don't want to miss out on the backstories. However, I suggest that you read The Restorer first and then read this if you like, it doesn't tells us a lot about Amelia Gray so it's not a good meter to use in figuring out the heroine.

Talk Supe


  1. Make sure you have book 3 on hand before you start book 2. You will regret it if you don't. I am glad you loved it! This series is awesome.

  2. Hi Amber! I got the next two books from Netgalley so I'm good, after this comment I am keen on proceeding with the series.

  3. Hope you get the answers you're looking for in the next one!


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