The Restorer (The Graveyard Queen Series, Book 1)
by Amanda Stevens
Release Date: April 19, 2011
2011 Mira Books
Softcover Edition: 384 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal
Source: Review Copy from Publisher & NetGalley
5 / 5 Stars
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 found myself thoroughly absorbed by the events and setting in this novel. As a young child, I was also drawn to cemetaries and found comfort in them, often spending many happy hours reading in the one that was near to my home. As a result, I found Amelia's job completely fascinating and really loved this novel.
Amelia has spent her life working alongside her father, a cemetary grounds keeper, and it is only natural that she would become a cemetary restorer as she feels completely comfortable in that setting. It is also the perfect setting to hide from the world, as Amelia and her father both have a secret; they can see ghosts and both understand the importance of keeping that secret to themselves. They live by a rigid set of rules that doesn't allow for outsiders, including the ghosts, into their lives. They understand that if they allow people, and their ghosts, into their lives, it can seep their vital life energy away and destroy them.
Amelia, in the midst of a cemetary restoration, walks right into the center of a murder investigation and is needed to help solve the mystery. With a series of clues given to the police that only a cemetary restorer can solve, Amelia slowly breaks her own rules and is drawn into John Devlin's haunted world, something that terrifies and excites her at the same time. As she strips away the barriers and rules she has lived by her whole life, Amelia learns to trust others and herself. She is a heroine I have come to totally admire; I love her courage, her sarcasm, her willingness to help, and her loyalty to her family. And it is here where all the secrets begin as well, and as the story begins to unveil, we learn there are many secrets, many of which are given to us in tantilizing bits. It also makes you begin to question Amelia's family background and exactly what it is they have to hide. We learn Amelia is adopted, but we never learn the origins of that story. Hopefully more will be given to us in future installments as it is so interesting.
The ending has many twists and turns in it, and I really had to pay attention to the many little bits of information that were given as they all played an important role. I was taken by suprise by the ending and I love that that can still happen as I thought I had it all figured out. I also really liked that the romance between Devlin and Amelia wasn't central to the story, but the author kept the mystery central to the story. So often the romance can overpower everything else and that sometimes bothers me.
I absolutely loved the language used in this novel and some of the new terms that came with it. Before this novel, I had no idea the term taphophile existed and I am one of those people who read the dictionary as a child. I love novels that take place in creepier settings, and what gets more creepy than an old cemetary? Combine this with a paranormal aspect and introduce ghosts and other 'creepies' and you've got one hooked reader. And then place this novel in a city such as Charleston, a city I just love to visit, with all of its Southern charm, and all of those secrets and history, and it's a place where charm and history and creepy and secrets just ooze from its walls. It's no wonder I was drawn to this novel.
The Restorer was an entertaining, suspenseful novel that kept a good balance between the living and the dead, and between the romance and the mystery. I thought the author did a brilliant job by giving us just enough tantalizing bits of information to keep us reading frantically to the end, then holding back enough to make us want to read the next book in the series, The Kingdom, released November 2011, right now. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting, the characters, and the plot and can't wait to read the next two books in this series.