Review: The Restorer by Amanda Stevens (Graveyard Queen #1)


The Restorer by Amanda Stevens // VBC ReviewThe Restorer (Graveyard Queen #1)
Amanda Stevens
Published: April 19, 2011 (MIRA)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased  

Reviewed by: Kris

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

“Never acknowledge the dead. Never stray far from hallowed ground. Never get close to the haunted. Never, ever tempt fate.”

Amelia Gray, cemetery restorer, lives by the code her father taught her at a young age. Amelia can see ghosts, which can be an issue considering her profession, but by adhering to the rules she has managed to create a good, if lonely, life for herself. The delicate balance Amelia has worked so hard to preserve is shaken to its foundation when Detective John Devlin comes knocking on her door.

The handsome Detective needs Amelia’s expertise as a graveyard restorer to help solve a murder, but if Amelia helps him, she will be breaking the rules that have kept her safe since she was a child. John Devlin is a haunted man—and his ghosts are determined to get Amelia’s attention.

As the murder investigation intensifies, Amelia and John grow closer. With every step she takes Amelia move further from the path that has protected her all these years, but neither the killer nor the ghosts have care for the living. Amelia will fight against the tides that are forcing her from her path–but it may be too late.

Holy smokes, guys, The Restorer was intense. I was not sure what to expect when I first started reading, but what I got was a haunting, morose, and beautiful story. Amanda Stevens has developed such a lush, rich, sensual, and vivid world that I was transported to the very graveyards Amelia Gray toils in. Charleston comes alive and is every bit as much a character as Amelia or John.

The plot is tight and moves the book along while leaving room to get to know the characters and the setting. The pacing can seem a bit slow in places, but then explodes into action. Stevens builds the tension and lets it subside, then begins building again, lending to a slightly disorienting feel that adds to the story. We learn along with Amelia and that makes for some very satisfying moments. There are twists and turns that sneak up on you and reveals that will leave you unsettled but desiring more.

Amelia and John are both wonderfully tragic figures that I couldn’t help but root for and the supporting cast were lively and strengthened the story. The romance is an important part of the story, but in no way takes over from the main mystery in the book. That is one aspect that definitely simmers and I expect will play an important role over the course of the series.

Stevens tells a thoroughly modern, gothic ghost story that is fresh and unlike anything I have come across before. This is a book that kept me up all night reading despite that there were some “bump in the night” moments. All of the elements came together to paint a misty and portentous picture of Amelia’s life and possible future, and I feel compelled to continue on with her journey. If you are looking for a well told, dark, and mesmerizing story I highly recommend The Restorer.

Sexual content: scenes of a sensual nature

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