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The Kingdom

The Kingdom

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The Kingdom

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (32 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
375 pagine
5 ore
Pubblicato:
Sep 12, 2016
ISBN:
9781488006395
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Re-read award-winning author Amanda Steven's chilling modern gothic series and relivethe journey of Amelia Gray, Graveyard Queen.

THE KINGDOM

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town…

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I've been commissioned to restore an oldcemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I'm coming to think I have another purposehere.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to ahidden grave I've discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of thistown—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.
Pubblicato:
Sep 12, 2016
ISBN:
9781488006395
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Amanda Stevens is an award-winning author of over fifty novels. Born and raised in the rural south, she now resides in Houston, Texas.

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The Kingdom - Amanda Stevens

Forty

ONE

The breeze off the water carried a slight chill even though the sun had barely begun its western slide. It was still hours until twilight. Hours until the veil between our world and the next would thin, but already I could feel the ripple of goose bumps at the back of my neck, a sensation that almost always signaled an unnatural presence.

I resisted the temptation to glance over my shoulder. Years of living with ghosts had instilled in me an aberrant discipline. I knew better than to react to those greedy, grasping entities, so I leaned against the deck rail and stared intently into the greenish depths of the lake. But from my periphery, I tracked the other passengers on the ferry.

The intimate murmurs and soft laughter from the couple next to me aroused an unexpected melancholy, and I thought suddenly of John Devlin, the police detective I’d left behind in Charleston. This time of day, he would probably still be at work, and I conjured up an image of him hunched over a cluttered desk, reviewing autopsy reports and crime scene photos. Did I cross his mind now and then? Not that it mattered. He was a man haunted by his dead wife and daughter, and I was a woman who saw ghosts. For as long as he clung to his past—and his past clung to him—I could not be a part of his life.

So I wouldn’t dwell on Devlin or that terrible door that my feelings for him had opened. In the months since I’d last seen him, my life had settled back into a normal routine. Normal for me, at least. I still saw ghosts, but those darker entities—the Others, my father called them—had drifted back into their murky underworld where I prayed they would remain. The memories, however, lingered. Memories of Devlin, memories of all those victims and of a haunted killer who had made me a target. I knew no matter how hard I fought them off, the nightmares would return the moment I closed my eyes.

For now, though, I wanted to savor my adventure. The start of a new commission filled me with excitement, and I looked forward to the prospect of uncovering the history of yet another graveyard, of immersing myself in the lives of those who had been laid to rest there. I always say that cemetery restoration is more than just clearing away trash and overgrowth. It’s about restoration.

The back of my neck continued to prickle.

After a moment, I turned to casually glance back at the row of cars. My silver SUV was one of only five vehicles on the ferry. Another SUV belonged to the couple, a green minivan to a middle-aged woman absorbed in a battered paperback novel, and a faded red pickup truck to an elderly man sipping coffee from a foam cup. That left the vintage black sports car. The metallic jet paint drew my appreciative gaze. In the sunlight, the shimmer reminded me of snake scales, and an inexplicable shiver traced along my spine as I admired the serpentine lines. The windows were tinted, blocking my view of the interior, but I imagined the driver behind the wheel, impatiently drumming fingers as the ferry inched toward the other side. To Asher Falls. To Thorngate Cemetery, my ultimate destination.

Brushing my hand against the back of my neck, I turned again to the water, mentally rummaging through the tidbits I’d gleaned from my research. Located in the lush Blue Ridge foothills of South Carolina, Asher Falls had once been a thriving community, but in the mid-eighties, one of the town’s most prominent citizens, Pell Asher, had struck an unsavory bargain. He’d sold acreage to the state to be used as a reservoir, and when the dam opened, the area flooded, including the main highway leading into Asher Falls. Already bypassed by a new freeway system, the town sank into oblivion. The only way in and out was by ferry or back roads, and the population soon withered. Asher Falls became just another statistic in a long line of dying rural communities.

I’d never set foot in the town, even to conduct a preliminary assessment of the cemetery. I’d been hired sight unseen by a real estate agent named Luna Kemper, who also happened to be the town librarian and the sole administrator of a generous donation made anonymously to the Daughters of our Valiant Heroes, a historical society/garden club for the beautification of Thorngate Cemetery. Luna’s offer couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I needed a new project and a change of scenery, so here I stood.

As we approached the dock, the engines powered down and we came to a near standstill. The heavy shadows cast by towering trees at the shoreline deepened the water to black. At no point could I see the bottom, but for a moment, I could have sworn I saw something—someone—just below the surface. A pale face staring up at me….

My heart took a nosedive as I leaned over the railing, searching those blackish depths. People without my ability would have undoubtedly wondered if the play of light and shadow on the water had tricked them. Or worse, if they might have spotted a body being washed ashore in the ferry’s wake. I thought instantly of a ghost and wondered who on board might be haunted by the golden-haired apparition floating underneath the water.

I believe this is yours.

A man’s voice pulled me back from the railing, and I turned reluctantly from the lake. I knew at once he belonged to the sports car. He and the vehicle had the same dark, sleek air. I thought him to be around my age—twenty-seven—with eyes the exact shade of a tidal marsh. He was tallish, though not so tall as Devlin, nor as thin. Years of being haunted had left the magnetic police detective hollow-eyed and gaunt while the stranger at my side appeared to be the picture of health—lean, sinewy and suntanned.

I beg your pardon?

He extended his hand, and I thought at first he meant to introduce himself, but instead he uncurled his fingers, and I saw my necklace coiled in his palm.

My hand went immediately to my throat. Oh! The chain must have snapped. I plucked the necklace from his hand and examined the links. They were unbroken, the clasp still securely closed. How strange, I murmured, unlatching the claw fastener and entwining the silver strand around my neck. Where did you find it?

It was lying on the deck behind you. His gaze slid downward as the polished stone settled into the hollow of my throat.

Something cold gripped my heart. A warning?

Thank you, I said stiffly. I would have hated to lose it.

It’s an interesting piece. He appeared to study the amulet intently. A good luck charm?

You might say that. Actually, the stone had come from the hallowed ground of a cemetery where my father had worked as caretaker when I was a child. Whether the talisman retained any of Rosehill’s protective properties, I had no idea. I only knew that I felt stronger against the ghosts when I wore it.

I started to turn back to the water, but something in the stranger’s eyes, a mysterious glint, held me for a moment longer.

Are you okay? he asked unexpectedly.

Yes, I’m fine. Why do you ask?

He nodded toward the side of the ferry. You were leaning so far over the railing when I came up, and then I saw your necklace on the deck. I was afraid you might be contemplating jumping.

Oh, that. I gave a negligible shrug. I thought I saw something in the water. Probably just a shadow.

The glint in his eyes deepened. I wouldn’t be too sure. You’d be surprised at what lies beneath the surface of this lake. Some of it occasionally floats to the top.

Such as?

Debris, mostly. Glass bottles, bits of old clothing. I even once saw a rocking chair drifting to shore.

Where does it all come from?

Flooded houses. As he turned to stare out over the water, I studied his profile, drawn by the way the late afternoon sunlight burnished his dark hair. The coppery threads gave him an aura of warmth that seemed to be absent from the midnight-green of his eyes. Before the dam was built, the lake was half the size it is now. A lot of property was destroyed when the water rose.

But that was years ago. You mean the houses are still down there? I tried to peer through the layers of algae and hydrilla, but I could see nothing. Not even the ghostly face I’d spotted earlier.

Houses, cars…an old graveyard.

My gaze shot back to him. A graveyard?

Thorngate Cemetery. Another casualty of the Asher greed.

But I thought… Uneasiness crept over me. I was good at my job, but recovering an underwater cemetery wasn’t exactly my area of expertise. I’ve seen recent pictures of Thorngate. It looked high and dry to me.

There are two Thorngates, he said. And I assure you that one of them does rest at the bottom of this lake.

How did that happen?

The original Thorngate was rarely used. It was all but forgotten. No one ever went out there. No one gave it a second thought…until the water came.

I stared at him in horror. Are you telling me the bodies weren’t moved before they expanded the lake?

He shuddered. Afterward, people started seeing things. Hearing things.

I fingered the talisman at my throat. Like what?

He hesitated, his gaze still on the water. If you look for this basin on any South Carolina map, you’ll find the Asher Reservoir. But around here, we call it Bell Lake.

Why?

In the old days, coffins were equipped with a warning system—a chain attached to a bell on the grave in case of a premature burial. They say at night, when the mist rolls in, you can hear those bells. He glanced over the railing. "The dead down there don’t want to be forgotten…ever again."

TWO

A tremor shot through me a split second before I saw the gleam of amusement in the stranger’s eyes.

Sorry, he said with a contrite smile. Local folklore. I couldn’t resist.

It’s not true then?

Oh, the cemetery is down there all right, along with cars, houses and God knows what else. Some claim they’ve even seen coffins float to the surface after a bad storm. But the bells… He paused. Put it this way. I’ve fished on this lake since I was a boy, and I’ve never heard them.

What about the face I’d seen under the surface? I wondered. Was that real?

His lingering gaze made me uneasy, though I had no idea why. His eyes were just a little too murky, a little too mysterious—like the bottom of Bell Lake.

He leaned forward, resting his forearms against the railing. He wore jeans and a black pullover sweater that hugged his toned torso. An unexpected appreciation skimmed along my nerve endings, and I glanced quickly away because the last thing I needed was a romantic complication. I wasn’t over Devlin, might never be over him, and an attractive stranger could do nothing more than momentarily ease my intense longing. Assuage an almost physical ache that had settled deep inside my chest since the night I’d fled the house Devlin had shared with the very beautiful and the very dead Mariama.

So what brings you to Asher Falls? the stranger asked. That is, if you don’t mind my asking. We don’t get a lot of visitors. We’re pretty well off the beaten track.

His voice was pleasant enough, but I detected a slight edge to the question. I’ve been hired to restore Thorngate Cemetery. The high and dry one.

He didn’t respond, and after a moment, his silence drew my reluctant gaze. He was staring down at me, his eyes still gleaming, though not with amusement or even curiosity, but with a spark of what I could only name as anger. The emotion faded, but I knew I hadn’t imagined his irritation.

I tried not to read too much into it. I often encountered local opposition. People were protective and sometimes overly superstitious about their graveyards. I started to reassure him that I knew my business. Thorngate would be in good hands. But then I decided that might be a job best left to the woman who had hired me. She would know how to address the concerns of her community far better than I.

So you’re here to restore Thorngate, he murmured. Whose idea was that?

The name of my contact is Luna Kemper. If you have questions, I suggest you direct them to her.

Oh, I will, he said with a tight smile.

Is there a problem? I couldn’t resist asking.

Not yet, but I can foresee some tension. Thorngate—the high and dry Thorngate—used to be the Asher family cemetery. After the original graveyard flooded, the burial site was donated to the town, along with enough land for expansion. A lot of people still have strong feelings about it.

The Ashers gave away their family cemetery? That seems a bit extreme. Why didn’t they just donate land for a new one?

Because a gesture was needed after what the old man did. The green eyes darkened. An atonement, if you want to know the truth. The irony, of course, is that the ostentatious memorials and family mausoleum only serve to highlight the divide between the Ashers and everyone else in town.

Is Pell Asher still alive?

Oh, yes. Very much so. I saw another flicker of emotion before he glanced back at the water.

What do you do in Asher Falls…if you don’t mind my asking? I mimicked his earlier question, but he didn’t seem to notice.

I drink, he said. And I bide my time. He turned with a look that sent another shiver skittering along my backbone. There was something in his voice, a dark undercurrent that made me think of drowned cemeteries and long-buried secrets. I wanted to glance away, but his heavy-lidded eyes were disarmingly hypnotic. I’m Thane Asher, by the way. Heir apparent to the shriveling Asher Empire, at least until Grandfather rewrites his will. He tends to go back and forth between my uncle and me. I’m the fair-haired child this week. If he kicks the bucket before next Thursday, I’m golden.

I didn’t know how to respond to that, so I merely extended my hand. Amelia Gray.

A pleasure. He took my hand and squeezed. His was the warm, smooth palm of the privileged, unmarred by the calluses I’d acquired over the years from clearing brush and lifting headstones.

My thoughts turned to Devlin once again, and I imagined the stroke of his long, graceful fingers down my back.

Suppressing a shudder, I tried to pull away from Thane Asher’s grip, but he held me for a moment longer, his gaze locked with mine until the ferry docked with a slight jolt and he freed me.

Here we are, he said cheerfully. Asher Falls. Welcome to our kingdom, Amelia Gray.

THREE

Disembarking behind the minivan, I pulled to the side of the road to reset my navigation system. My windows were down, and a cool wind swept through, carrying the verdant, piney scent of the Upcountry. The dog days had extended into September, and the bee balm and hedge nettle were still blooming, carpeting the meadows in lavender. Rising above the gentle hills of the Piedmont, the area was beautiful, but the landscape of looming mountains, deep shadows and the green-black forest of pine and hemlock was foreign to me. My beloved Lowcountry, with its steamy marshes and briny breezes, seemed a long way from here.

The roar of an engine drew my attention from the scenery, and I glanced at the road as the black sports car zoomed past my window, leaving a thin cloud of dust and exhaust in its wake.

Welcome to our kingdom, I muttered as I watched Thane Asher take a sharp curve without slowing. It was an impressive maneuver of reckless abandon, squealing tires and shimmering metallic paint. Then with a whine of the powerful motor, he was gone, and the quiet that settled around me seemed heavy and ominous, as if weighted by some dark enchantment.

I glanced in the rearview mirror at the ferry, mentally retracing my route to Charleston. To Devlin. But I was here now, and there was no turning back.

Pulling onto the road, I trailed Thane Asher into town.

* * *

Asher Falls had once been a picturesque town of cobblestone streets and classic revival-style buildings situated around a formal square shaded and shrouded by live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Quaint was the word that came to mind, and it was only on second glance that one noticed the deteriorating vital signs of a dying community—boarded windows, sagging gutters, the stopped clock in the beautiful old tower.

I saw no one as I drove around the square. If not for a few scattered vehicles, I might have thought the place deserted. The streets were as silent as a tomb, the storefronts dark and lonely. The whole town had the quiet, forlorn air of the abandoned.

I pulled into a parking space and got out. Luna had emailed me the address of her real estate office, and I located it easily. But the door was locked, and I saw no sign of life through the window. Pecking on the glass, I waited a moment, then headed next door to the library, an impressive three-story structure with arches and columns reminiscent of some of my favorite buildings in Charleston.

A girl of about sixteen stood behind the counter sorting through a stack of books. She glanced up as I stepped inside but didn’t offer a smile or a greeting. Instead, she went back to her work, the pixie cut of her silver-blond hair revealing an anemic-looking face.

I took a moment to enjoy the familiar library scent before approaching the counter. I’d always loved the smell of old books and records and could happily immerse myself for hours in musty archives. Proper research was vital to a successful cemetery restoration, and as I took in the sagging bookshelves and shadowy alcoves, I felt a pulse of excitement at what I might discover—in the library and in Thorngate Cemetery.

The ancient floorboards creaked beneath my boots as I walked over to the counter. The blonde lifted her gaze but not her head. Her eyes were crystalline-blue, the clear, rinsed cyan of a spring sky. She was very slight, but I didn’t think her fragile. She had a presence about her, a subtle gravitas that seemed unusual and a bit unsettling in a girl of her age.

She still said nothing, but I didn’t take her silence for insolence. Rather, she seemed guarded and wary, like those of us who spend too much time in our own little world.

My name is Amelia Gray. I’m here to see Luna Kemper. She’s expecting me.

The girl spared a brief nod before finishing with the books. Then she turned and strode to a closed door, rapped once and slipped inside. A moment later she reappeared and motioned me around the counter. As she stepped aside to allow me to enter the room, I saw that her eyes were focused—not on me—but on a point just beyond my shoulder. I had the strangest feeling that if I followed her gaze, I would find nothing there. It was a disquieting sensation because, with few exceptions, I’m the one who sees what others cannot.

Before I had time to ponder her odd behavior, Luna Kemper rose, shooing aside a gorgeous gray tabby as she came around her desk to greet me. The scent of wildflowers suddenly filled the room as though she exuded the fragrance through her very pores. A vase of purple foxglove—Papa called them witch’s bells—sat on the corner of her desk, but I didn’t think the smell came from them. I’d never known that particular flower to have such a pungent perfume.

Luna looked to be in her early forties, a sensuous brunette with a lustrous complexion and eyes the color of a rain clouds. Welcome, Amelia. I’m so happy to finally meet you in person. She extended her hand and we shook. She wore a charcoal pencil skirt and a lavender sweater accentuated with a large moonstone pendant. Her easy smile and friendly demeanor were a welcome contrast to her subdued assistant, who was dressed similarly to me—black T, jeans and a lightweight jacket.

How was your trip? Luna asked, leaning a shapely hip against her desk.

It was great. I haven’t been up this way in a long time. I’d forgotten how beautiful the foothills are this time of year.

You should take a trip up to the falls if you get a chance. It’s the most beautiful spot in the whole state, though, I expect I’m biased. I was born and raised in the foothills. My mother used to say I’d wither away without the mountains and the woods to roam in, but I love the occasional weekend jaunt to the beach. I have a cousin who has a place on St. Helena. Do you get down that way much?

No, not really. I stay pretty busy.

I sympathize. Running a business doesn’t leave much time for play. I can’t remember the last time I had a real vacation. Maybe next summer…. She trailed off, her gaze moving to the door where the blonde still lurked. Sidra, this is Amelia Gray, the cemetery restorer I told you about. Sidra Birch. She helps out in the library after school and sometimes on weekends.

I glanced over my shoulder and nodded. Hello, Sidra.

She still said nothing but tilted her head and studied me so intently I grew uncomfortable. There was something about that girl. Something at once familiar and off-putting. She had the air of someone who knew dark things. Like me.

I suppressed a shudder as I turned back to Luna.

I’m sure you’re anxious to get settled in, she said briskly. I’ve arranged for you to stay in Floyd Covey’s house while he’s in Florida tending to his mother. She’s laid up with a broken hip so I expect he’ll be gone for a couple of months at the very least—

A sound from the doorway drew both our gazes. Sidra was staring at Luna with an expression I couldn’t begin to fathom.

What’s wrong? Luna asked.

Why’d you put her way out there?

Why not? Luna asked with a note of irritation.

Sidra’s blue gaze fell on me, then darted away. It’s creepy.

Nonsense. It’s a lovely place right on the lake and the location is perfect. It’s halfway between town and the cemetery, Luna explained. I think you’ll be very comfortable there.

I’m sure I will be. But Sidra’s comment, along with Thane Asher’s tale of restless souls beneath Bell Lake had planted an insidious seed.

Luna straightened from the desk. Why don’t you make yourself at home while I run next door and fetch the key? We can go over the contracts and permits and then I’ll take you out to see the house.

Sidra had already disappeared, and I assumed she’d gone back to her work behind the counter. After Luna left, I wondered if I should go out there and ask the girl what she’d meant about the Covey place. Then I decided it was probably best to wait and form my own opinion.

Killing time, I glanced around Luna’s office. It was one of those eclectic, overstuffed places that I’d always been drawn to. So many interesting and unusual treasures to admire, from the hand-carved pedestal desk to the brass ship’s bell mounted over the doorway. I hadn’t noticed the bell before, but now I detected the faintest ting, as if a draft had stirred the clapper. There was a second, narrow door with an arched top and an ornate keyhole plate that made me wonder where it led to.

Slowly, I circled the room, admiring the bric-a-brac in mahogany cabinets, everything from blown-glass figurines to antique pocket watches, from fossils and shells to an assortment of oddly shaped knives. Framed photographs covered the walls, most of them local historical buildings, but the people shots interested me more. One in particular caught my attention—a picture of three young women, arms entwined as they stared dreamily into the camera. I recognized a teenage Luna, and one of the other girls bore an uncanny resemblance to Sidra, but I knew it couldn’t be her. A good twenty-five years separated their ages, and besides, the hairstyles and clothing screamed the eighties. Sidra wouldn’t have even been born then.

A fourth girl hovered in the shadowy background, her wavy hair floating about her in a breeze as she glared into the lens. I felt an odd tightening in my chest as I studied that stony face, and for the longest time, I couldn’t seem to catch my breath, couldn’t tear my eyes from that fiery glower.

Are you all right?

I took a step back, Sidra’s voice breaking whatever hold the photograph had on me. I turned to find her watching me from the doorway. Light from the window picked up the silvery threads in her hair, creating an ethereal illusion that, along with her paleness, made me wonder if she might be a ghost. I’d been fooled before, but since Luna could interact with her, too, the likelihood seemed slim.

Why are you staring at me like that? she asked with a frown.

Was I staring? I’m sorry, I managed to say calmly. I was just thinking how much you resemble the girl in this picture.

She came over to stand beside me. That’s my mother, Bryn. Pointing to the redhead on her mother’s right, she said, That’s Catrice, and, of course, you know Luna. The three of them were best friends in high school. Still are, I guess.

Do they all live here in Asher Falls?

She hesitated. You heard what Luna said. She’d wither away if she left the mountains. My mother would, too, I think. None of them would last long out in the real world.

This isn’t the real world?

God, I hope not, she said with a shiver.

You don’t like it here?

Like it? This place is a ghost town, she said, and something in her voice made me shiver.

Sounds as if Luna manages to stay busy.

Oh, yes. Luna is a very busy woman.

We were both staring at the photograph, and I could see Sidra’s pale refection in the glass.

I like her name, I said. It’s unusual but it suits her. And yours is unusual, too.

I’m named for her. Sidra means ‘of the stars,’ and Luna means moon, so… She shrugged. Kind of cheesy, but they’ve always been into that mystical stuff.

Who’s the fourth girl?

I heard her breath catch and glanced over to find her in the grip of some strong emotion—eyes wide, hand pressed to her heart—but then she swallowed and tried to recover. What girl? she asked in a thin voice.

The one in the background. Her. I put a finger over the glass and felt a rush of something unpleasant go through me.

Sidra said nothing. In the ensuing silence, I heard the bell again, so faintly I wondered if my imagination had supplied the sound.

There’s no one else in the picture, she said. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I could clearly see an angry countenance in the background, but suddenly I understood. Whoever she was, she’d already been dead when the picture was taken. The photographer had captured her ghost.

It was the clearest shot of an entity I’d ever seen. But…if I was the one who saw ghosts, why was Sidra so distressed?

It’s just a shadow or some trick of the light, she insisted. There’s no one else in the picture.

Our gazes met and I nodded. Yes, that must be it, I agreed, as icy fingers skated up and down my spine.

FOUR

As I followed Luna’s Volvo through town a little while later, I couldn’t stop thinking about the look on Sidra’s face when I mentioned the fourth girl in the photograph. I’d always assumed my ability to see ghosts was a rare thing, and because of

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  • (5/5)
    The KingdomBy: Amanda StevensNarrated by: Khristine HvamSeries: Graveyard Queen, Book 2This book really brings a dark and heavy atmosphere feel as the author describes the town Amelia has to work in next. She thinks it is just effecting her but once she arrives in town everyone is feeling something dark and strange. This town has lots of secrets that can cost Amelia her life! Many secrets of the family are explored too! The Graveyard Queen becomes the prey as she is stalked by humans and nonhumans. Great suspense and mysteries.The narrator performs very well!
  • (4/5)
    Second book in a supernatural mystery series featuring "The Graveyard Queen" Amelia Gray. In this book Amelia travels to the town of Asher Falls where she's been hired to restore the cemetery. Upon arrival Amelia is immediately enveloped in the foreboding atmosphere that hovers over the town. Amelia slowly comes to realize she is tied to this town in a way she doesn't understand. When she finds a hidden grave in the cemetery she discovers there are several people who would do anything to keep old secrets hidden.

    This was an engrossing story but I thought the heavy atmosphere was a bit overdone and bogged down the first half of the book. I wished for a little more character interaction and a little less exposition and description. But the last half of the book was much more action and it was all I could do not to read straight through to the end. The ending nicely tied up all the ends and answered all the questions, and gave all the characters closure. I liked that this book delved into Amelia's past and revealed family secrets. I hope we get to see more of Devlin in future books, because I liked his character and missed him in this book.
  • (5/5)
    Amelia Grey has never know her true parents, her "father" showed up one night, bloody and holding a baby. She doesn't even consider this when she wins a contract to restore Thorngate cemetery. A host of crimes have been committed in the tiny town of Asher Falls and, as it turns out, most of them can be linked to Amelia. The original cemetery was buried under a lake and since then, odd things are happening. People disappearing, an unmarked grave of a mother and child, a very handsome part of the founding family whose future has also been planned out. What does all these have to do with Amelia? I had no clue! (and that's the best part!)
  • (4/5)
    The Kingdom
    4 Stars

    The eerie atmosphere of the town, the mystery surrounding Amelia's connection to Asher falls and the revelations about a number of suspicious deaths all work together to make The Kingdom an enthralling read.

    There are fewer descriptions of burial rituals, which is a little disappointing and John Devlin's character is sorely missed. Nevertheless, the varied cast of characters from the town patriarch and his enigmatic grandson to the stalkerish teenager and her ethereal friend are all well developed and contribute to the sinister vibe surrounding the events in the story. Every character has his or her secret and following Amelia as she attempts to unravel the truth makes for entertaining listening.

    The rich intertextuality, such as the clever allusions to Edgar Allen Poe's Fall of the House of Usher and John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick, are seamlessly interwoven within the storyline and add a compelling layer to the twists and turns of the plot.

    Overall, The Kingdom is a well-written and worthy sequel to The Restorer and I look forward to John Devlin's return in The Prophet.
  • (5/5)
    I loved THE RESTORER, and so I could hardly wait to read THE KINGDOM. Amanda Stevens keeps me on the edge of my seat, and I can never get enough of her Graveyard Queen.
  • (4/5)
    Omg, omg people! This book was so good. Yes I liked book 1 and it was so hard to put down but this one was even better! I started it and was unable to put it down, I realized that I had missed lunch and tore myself away for 5 minutes. I was utterly lost in this world and did not stop until I reached the end. The only thing stopping me from reading the next one at once is that I need to breathe.

    The eerie feeling echoed through out the whole book. A creepy town, freaky things in the woods and questions needed to be answered. And the answers were just as creepy as the questions. What an atmosphere she builds!

    I could keep on gushing. I even felt the urge to give it a 5. I know right, from me?! Crazy. I wont though even if it deserves it. I reserve those for books I will re-read over and over again. This one, well the eeriness is there, but now I know. So leave it at 4,5. Best book so far this year. It left me empty now. I have only one book left in the series and I will sad. Especially if it's not equally good.

    I recommend it. I love when a story pulls me in and refuses to let me go. I could not have torn myself even if I had wanted to.
  • (3/5)
    I enjoyed the first in this Graveyard Queen series so much that I immediately went to the next one. The Kingdom was not quite as good as the first, but I think it's for the simple reason that the premise was no longer new for me.

    The Kingdom's story was engaging, but there is starting to be a touch too much paranormal for me. For example, what exactly did she experience in the crypt at the mausoleum? What really happened to Emelyn's body? Why was Freya really killed? This one left me with a lot of unanswered questions.

    Also, the fact that Amelia gets unexpectedly and paranormally sexually drawn to a man in the last two restorations is a bit unbelievable. This one was particular hard to swallow because of the very sensual nature of the attraction. I can only assume that, since she is seeing the same vision here as the last book, book three may wrap it up and explain it more. For Amelia to be so conservative, reserved and steeped in southern tradition, she seems to be a bit of a tart.

    Overall, it's a fun read, and a nice diversion. Recommended.
  • (5/5)
    This is the second book in the Graveyard Queen series. I saw the series recommended by someone on my twitter feed and decided to check it out. The second book in the series did not fail to impress. I loved it as much as the first one. As with the first one the characters were well written was different than the other "I see dead people" books. Questions I had from the first book were answered and new mysteries arose to be carried into the next book. I highly recommend the series.
  • (5/5)
    One of the best authentic ghost stories I've read in years, maybe decades! Not since Collins' The Woman in White have I been held so enthrall by ghosts and the plot of a suspense tale. Very well wrought! Nevermind that it's categorized as "romantic suspense" - The Kingdom's fantastic !!!
  • (5/5)
    Wow is all I can say. This book sucked me in just as fast as the first one did. I could hardly put it down. Things I liked: her finding Angus, Thane, the comeuppance the Asher's, Luna, Bryn and Catrice got, and the answer to some of the questions left over from the first book. I wish Thane had gone with Amelia to Charleston. I found him much more likable than Devlin. I'm hooked now though and will have to read the third book. Love this series!!!!
  • (5/5)
    I read The Restorer more than two years ago and every time I thought of reading the next I remembered the level of angst in the first book. On the one hand, what a hell was I thinking? On the other, though, I am glad I waited. I needed distance from the Devlin situation. You know when you don't have anyone to blame (or hate) in a book and it's still messed up? That.

    Amelia accepted a new commission in an isolated small town called Asher Falls. She needs distance and piece from everything and this job seems perfect. There are two graveyards in Asher Falls though. One is under the lake.
    Soon she finds a hidden old grave that nobody can explain. The oppressive air of the area, the town and the mountains, close-mouthed and even sinister people don't help either.

    There is absolutely no way I could do this story justice with some vague comments because the best of it is a spoiler.
    I loved the pace and the resolution. They are perfect for the story and for the main character.
  • (4/5)
    The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

    ★ ★ ★ ★

    This is the second book in The Graveyard Queen series. And while I enjoyed the first book in the series, I really loved the second installment. This is made all the more amazing by the fact that I rarely read and even more rarely enjoy books in the paranormal romance genre. Although I still stand by my belief that while there is romance involved in this book, I would call it more of a paranormal mystery. For a girl who averages about 60-90 pages read a day, I devoured this 400 page book in less than 2 days. I just couldn't put it down.

    The characters are well done. The story is fun and exciting. The ghosts in this one were quite creepy if I say so myself (some sections of the book gave me the chills). Even though I was able to figure out part of the plot line, it did not deter my joy for this book. I look forward to the next installment in the series.
  • (5/5)
    The Kingdom is the second book in The Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens.

    The Kingdom starts couple of weeks after events in The Restorer (first book). Amelia has broken every one of the four rules her father taught her, rules she needed to follow for her survival.

    1. Never acknowledge the dead.
    2. Never stray far from hallowed ground.
    3. Never associate with those who are haunted.
    4. Never, ever tempt fate.

    Now she needs to put distance between her and Devlin, before something more serious happens.
    When Amelia receives an offer to renovate Thorngate Cemetery in the town of Asher Falls, South Carolina, she doesn’t think it twice and accepts. Get away from Charleston is just what she needs right now. Packing her bags she leaves immediately to work on her new commission.
    Strange things starts to happen as soon as Amelia is on her way; on the ferry that will take her to Asher Falls she is not sure but she thinks she has seen a ghost over the water. Minutes later she meets the mysterious Thane Asher, heir to the Asher family, family that rules and owns half the town of Asher Falls. Thane tells her about the original Thorngate cemetery, the one that was flooded to make way for the Asher Reservoir, that same reservoir they are crossing, the one the locals call Bell Lake.
    He hesitated, his gaze still on the water. “If you look for this basin on any South Carolina map, you’ll find the Asher Reservoir. But around here, we call it Bell Lake.”
    “Why?”
    “In the old days, coffins were equipped with a warning system-a chain attached to a bell on the grave in case of premature burial. They say at night, when the mist rolls in, you can hear those bells.” He glanced over the railing. “The dead down there don’t want to be forgotten… ever again.”

    After arriving to Asher Falls and meeting her contact she realizes there is more to this commission that just the restoration of the cemetery. Asher Falls is a ghost town, with very weird residents. But what is weirder than all is that Amelia feels a connection to the town, something she had never felt before, a strange feeling she can’t explain. And when even stranger things starts to happen Amelia has two options, stay put and discover what is what Asher Falls and its residents are hiding or pack her bags and leave before it's too late.

    The Kingdom surpassed all my expectations, since the moment I pick it up I couldn’t put it down until I reach its last word and after that I wanted more. Mrs. Stevens’ uncanny writing is so vivid and realistic than even though I don’t scare easily I started to hear weird noises at home, it didn’t help I read until wee hours of the night, as I said before I couldn’t put down this book. Yes, it’s that good!

    Amelia is such a great character; she is determined, strong, caring and smart, even when the world she knew shattered in pieces she finds the strength to carry on. I suffer with her and more than once I wanted her to leave Asher Falls behind. At the end I was very happy she stayed because she discovered things about herself she wouldn’t have discovered any other way. Things that left me open mouthed in awe.

    Devlin is not physically present in this installment; he is more like a memory of Amelia’s past, a memory she can’t seem to forget.

    Thane serves as a distraction not only for Amelia but for us too. He is a character with which I had an ambivalent relationship, I doubted him, I liked him, I didn’t like him, I cared for him and at the end… I will let that for you to discover.

    The drama and mystery is one that will have you biting your nails and trying to read faster and faster, at the same time you will have to stop many times to listen for weird noises or to look for shadows that weren’t there. Yes, it’s this kind of creepy, but a really good creepy, one that will leave you addicted and wanting for more.

    The world Mrs. Stevens has created in her series and in The Kingdom, is unique and amazing in a haunting kind of way. One, that days later after finishing the book you will still remember with vivid detail. A world you will want all your friends and family to experience for themselves.

    The end wasn’t a throw-the-book-to-the-wall-cliffhanger, but one that will leave you dying to get your hands on the next installment of this series the Prophet, which will be release in April 24th, 2012.

    The Kingdom is one of my favorite reads of this year and I’m sure it’ll be on my top 10 list at the end of the year. I recommend this book to all of you, but especially to those who love modern gothics, paranormal fiction or a good mystery.
  • (4/5)
    I'm not sure why I started reading this series, but it's enjoyable. Fluffy paranormal investigations with really beautiful descriptions of the rural South. I have a weakness for small town secrets, and this is full of them. Recommended for those who enjoy the paranormal or Southern gothic genres.
  • (5/5)
    Last year THE RESTORER was one of my favorite books, and I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for the sequel to be released. I couldn’t wait to find out where Amanda Stevens would take her Graveyard Queen next. After finishing THE KINGDOM, my initial thought is WOW! I may have liked the second book a smidge more that the first. Where THE RESTORER was more paranormal mystery/romantic suspense, THE KINGDOM is the perfect blend of mystery and eerie Southern Gothic fiction.

    If you’re not familiar with the series, I’ll briefly tell you about Amelia Gray. She’s known as “The Graveyard Queen” because her life’s passion is restoring old, dilapidated cemeteries. But what really makes her unique is her ability to see ghosts. Her adoptive father also has this gift (or curse, as the case may be), and he gave her strict rules for dealing with restless spirits. His most important rule was to IGNORE them, a rule Amelia broke in the first book, and it got her in a heap of trouble.

    In THE KINGDOM, Amelia is hired to restore a cemetery in the remote town of Asher Falls, hidden in the mountains of South Carolina. Immediately upon her arrival, Amelia knows there is something peculiar about Asher Falls. Much of the town has been deserted, and there’s something “off” about the ones who remained. Amelia can sense an evil presence there, yet something compels her to stay in this majestic yet wicked place. Somehow she’s connected to Asher Falls, and she’s determined to find out how. The secrets and mysteries in this town run deep, and there are certain residents that want Amelia silenced before she discovers the truth.

    I would love to talk more about the plot and supporting cast, but I don’t want to spoil this fantastic story for anyone! I highly recommend that you read the series in order, because you’ll definitely want to know Amelia’s history with John Devlin. Though he doesn’t make an appearance in THE KINGDOM, Amelia mentions him a lot. Hopefully we’ll get more of John in the third book.

    THE KINGDOM is the type of story that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. The plot was fast-paced with many surprising twists and turns along the way. Amanda Stevens has a talent for making the reader a part of her story. I loved the vivid imagery of the mountains surrounding Asher Falls. I could hear the ghostly chimes over Bell Lake myself. Chilling! Fans of creepy ghost stories and Southern Gothics shouldn’t miss this series.
  • (4/5)
    Second in the Graveyard Queen series, Amelia's story continues as dark secrets of who she is surface as she takes on a job to restore a cemetery in the isolated island town of Asher Falls. While there in this modern day ghost town, she meets a slew of people who are all creepy and different in their own way - except for Thane Asher, a tall, dark and handsome rakish type who may or may not be all that he seems. The narration for this book is very good, by Khristine Hvam, I love the way she does the various Southern accents. I liked this macabre getaway from Charleston, setting of the first book in the series, but I still want to see what's going on back at the ranch with Devlin - that last line of the book hooked me for the next one in the series!
  • (5/5)
    Second in the Graveyard Queen series. This book takes Amelia to a remote area of the Carolinas to restore a family cemetary. The original cemetary in the town was flooded and sits at the bottom of a lake. Dark stuff in this book, but revealing about Amelia's past and her future. Very good read!
  • (4/5)
    This was, very much, not what I expected. I actually started the book and put it aside, mostly because of the idea of the ghosts. I guess I just wasn't in the mood; the eerie and creepy was not what I was looking for. Fortunately, I went back to it, and the eerie did click with what I wanted; I'd have regretted missing out on this book. This isn't a horror novel, not by today's standards, of spattering blood and running zombies (they were so much easier when they just shambled), but it is indeed eerie and creepy to a very satisfying degree. There may have been one night I ... accidentally left a light on when I went to bed. Sheer coincidence, really. As the book description says, Amelia Gray is called "The Graveyard Queen" for her work in restoring cemeteries. She grew up as the adopted daughter of a cemetery caretaker, and never knew anything but love for the place ... up till the day she saw her first ghost. Her father, dismayed at her ability because he shared it, taught her the basics of dealing with it: first and foremost, never let on that you see a ghost, because it craves the warmth a living person has, which it once had. If it sees acknowledgement it will latch on and drain the life from you - which it can't do unless it is recognized. Amelia has lived her life schooling her expression and reactions - she must be a rotten person to play a practical joke on. After an anonymous contribution, an isolated South Carolina town called Asher Falls has hired her to work on the local cemetery - the currently used one, that is, since there once was another which - due to a greedy move by the local bigwig - now lies at the bottom of a lake. The house in which Amelia is staying sits on the shore of that lake. Yeah, the sunken graveyard is definitely haunted. 'Nuff said. Amelia faces not only the odd dynamics of what has become the next thing to a ghost town along with the differing reactions to her work - the sorts of things almost anyone might face - but also the ghosts, the family of the patriarch who flooded the old graveyard (still around, and creepier than most of the ghosts), and the scarred survivor of a local dog-fighting operation. (If for no other reason than that dog, I am Amelia's biggest fan.) I loved the characterizations. There is just no way to know who can be trusted - Amelia finds reason to doubt even her own history. Her family is all kinds of quirky, and are wonderful character sketches. The townsfolk are also quirky, only in a frequently more sinister way - their behavior is never predictable, unfortunately for Amelia. And then there was the guy with the wagon. (All right, there might have been two nights I accidentally left my light on. Three, tops.) This was the second book in the series, but the first I've read, and it stood on its own very well. It was also very good at the job a preview galley is supposed, to wit, making me want the first book in the series and all others hereafter. There were some spoilers for the first book, but by and large they were of the sort that just increased my interest in the rest of the story rather than rendering it unnecessary to read: well done. In fact, in terms of providing necessary background in such a way as to keep my head in the current book, avoid info-dump, and plant the seed of you really need to go read that book too, this is one of the best executed second books I've ever seen. Can't wait for more.
  • (2/5)
    I'd give this one a 2.5This paranormal/horror/mystery novel is the second in the Graveyard Queen series, focusing around Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who has the ability to see the dead. The topic of cemeteries as a link to history and the past has always intrigued me, and the first book was one that I enjoyed (with the exception of a really weird, out-of-place sexual encounter near the end). I was hoping for a bit more of a digging-through-history, learning-about-cemeteries kind of story, but I was kind of disappointed.What I liked about this book... It definitely held my interest, and the mystery that Amelia turns up is intriguing. I wanted to know what really happened, and for the strange occurrences to be explained. Also, I liked that some of the questions about Amelia's past were finally answered -- who her real parents are, why she can see ghosts, etc. There were also some pretty freaky parts that definitely gave me chills, and I give the author credit for those things. (Underwater graveyard? Very creepy. Being buried alive in utero? Incredibly bizarre.)What I DIDN'T like seems to outnumber the likes, though.- Amelia FREAKS OUT about EVERYTHING. There was a whole section devoted to her being freaked out about hitting a bird with her car. Really? REALLY? Every bump in the night or twig snapping in the day seems to make her jump out of her skin.- MORE creepy/weird sexual encounters, believe it or not.- Situations that are too unbelievable for me to take seriously, even in a work of paranormal fiction. (view spoiler)- Villain monologues. There were TWO in this story.- Thane Asher. The love interest in this novel is basically the foil of Devlin. Thane puts a high value on his family name, where Devlin did not. Thane is not haunted by his lost love, where Devlin is. Thane dresses casually and pursues Amelia and tells her how much he likes her, where Devlin did not. The fact that Amelia so quickly moved on to a new love interest (even one whom she had strong reservations about) baffled me, and they seemed to follow the exact same pattern as Amelia & Devlin in the first book -- friendship, attraction, passion, then "eh, now's not a good time."- My biggest gripe, however, is that this book seemed to lack all of the interesting cemetery tidbits that the first one had. There wasn't anything new to learn about cemeteries or burials or how people care for the dead that hadn't already been mentioned in the first book -- HUGE disappointment for people like me actually interested in learning something new.I will still probably read the third book -- there are still questions I'd like answered -- but I can't see ever re-reading this one... it was a little too cheesy-horror-flick for my tastes.
  • (5/5)
    I was disappointed when the book ended, I wanted it to go on forever. Stevens' writing is crisp and real. She doesn't make her characters too far out, which is difficult considering the subject of her novels. In this book, Amelia returns to Asher Falls, only she doesn't realize she has been here in the past. Her roots are here but no one is happy to see her return.
  • (3/5)
    Meh, is my first reaction to this book. I didn't like it as much as the first, but I liked the idea of it more than than the first, and I like Thane much more than Devlin (shame that Amanda Stevens seems to like Devlin more. I was hoping he was off the scene for good). But the creep factor that was there in the first seems to be gone in this one. The only thing that was creepy was Freya's death and if I wanted a creepy murder novel, I would have read a creepy murder novel instead. All this ~ghostly winds~ and ~ghostly fog~ doesn't really do it for me. But perhaps I'm jaded, this is pretty "light horror" for me, more thriller than actual horror, which is sad to say the least.While reading it I was a bit struck by the idea that this is a bit of "retelling" of Rosemary's Baby except Rosemary wasn't murdered and the creepy cult wants the baby for a different reason. Well that and the baby isn't a baby anymore but I digress.But I loved the underwater graveyard imagery. That was a lovely addition.I'll probably try out the next book. I often find the second book in a series falls a bit flat.
  • (5/5)
    Amelia Gray, graveyard restorer, has elected to take a job outside of Charleston, with the hope of placing the haunted cop Devlin and the events of the previous Spring, behind her. She enters Asher Falls the only way anyone can, by car ferry. It is an isolated community in a mountain valley, shut off from the mainland by a deliberately released dam. From the first, she realizes there's something not quite right with this town. It's as if the soul of that place has been eaten away. The people, the houses...even the very air seems befouled. If I were to compare Amanda Stevens' style to anyone, I'd say these books remind me of the old Barbara Michaels novels. Only in Stevens case, she has amped the creep level up several notches. That's a definite compliment. It has been a long time since I've had the joy of being totally freaked out by a scene. There is a point about halfway through this book that sends a definite chill down the spine. In this book, we solve some of the mysteries of Amelia's past. While the story stands on its own, it is also building up to the next novel. Not all of Amelia's ghosts are dead people. Yes, the story is full of cliches. Yes, you figure out the big reveal long before the heroine does. But that's okay. The journey is worth it. Danger comes from all directions in this story. Sometimes it feels like everyone is out to get her. Favorite new character: Definitely Angus the dog! If you want an old fashioned gothic thriller, this book is for you. I eagerly await The Prophet and have already pre-purchased it on my Nook.
  • (5/5)
    Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick & Dirty: A woman dragged into a world where her unknown heritage comes back to haunt her.Opening Sentence: The breeze off the water carried a slight chill even though the sun had barely begun its western slide.The Review:The second installment of the Graveyard Queen series, The Kingdom, lives up to the expectations of the first book. This one focuses not on Amelia’s present and possible future, but on her past. Her new restoration job in Asher Falls is just what she needs to separate herself from her jumbled feelings for the haunted detective she left behind in Charleston. But the quiet town has more than a few secrets; secrets that no one there wants to come to light. Amelia’s own past is intertwined with this little town and the oppressive evil that permeates it.Amelia Grey has a lot to think about these days. The rules that her father gave her to live by no longer offer the protection it once did. The man she loves is haunted by the ghosts of his deceased family. All of this has left Amelia with the need to discover her own past and face her own ghosts. She begins to question all the things her parents told her that she once took for granted. How did she come to be adopted by her parents? Where did she come from? This place, this dying town of Asher Falls, calls to her on a level she doesn’t understand. And when she is drawn to an unmarked grave, the questions it raises are not ones that anyone in town what to answer. Will the answers she seeks about her past be her undoing?Even with all the trouble Amelia finds in her new commission, there are a few good things that she does find. For instance: her new dog, Angus. A stray Amelia found lurking around the place she was staying at; Angus’s physical scars reflect Amelia’s emotional ones. Even after all the apparent pain he was put through, the dog remains steadfast and loyal to his new owner. A pet is a good companion for someone who needs to reexamine their lives. Angus offers silent acceptance at a time that Amelia feels that the foundation of her world is crumbling.Amelia also finds a kindred spirit within the town. Sidra is a teenage girl that can also see ghosts. For someone that has purposely alienated herself from others, Amelia realizes how alone she really was before she met someone like herself. I believe that this is a pivotal moment for our heroine. Amelia sees some of herself in the teenager, Sidra. But can she see a different path available for the young woman, different from the one she herself chose? She starts to see that there are options for her now, other than her father’s rules. Can she truly break out of her box? Will she explore other avenues, now that she no longer feels so alone in the world? Should she take the chance, even if it may lead to her doom?Of course, there is always the handsome Thane Asher. Even though there is a spark of passion between them, both of their hearts belong to others. Amelia is not yet ready to give up John Devlin and Thane is still in love with his old fiancé, Harper. But there are forces at work that want these two people together, one way or another. How far is the Asher family going to go to secure their “legacy?” What will they do if Thane and Amelia dig too deep into things they want forgotten? I like Thane’s character. He puts on a good front of disinterest, but his good nature shines through in all of his actions. I hope that Amelia learns to judge people by their actions and not their words, including her family.One of the neat things about The Kingdom is its villains. Or should I say its lack of true villains. Everyone in the town has something to hide and they all have varying degrees of desperation in keeping them quiet. That makes for a lot of people that have the potential to hurt Amelia, and not all for the same reasons. This one fact lets the reader keep guessing who is behind all the trouble our heroine keeps getting into. Who is to say that the person she feels is following her a person, several persons, ghost, or one of the other beings she found out about in the last book?On a side note: The two main characters from the prequel story, The Abandoned, are mentioned in passing by Amelia’s Aunt Lynrose. I always appreciate an author who ties in their previous work with their current. For me, it makes the side story more cemented into the main one and therefore, worth my time to read it.Overall, The Kingdom is a worthy sequel to the first novel. Amanda Stevens weaves this story in such a way that makes you feel relieved in the end that justice and peace are served. She leaves you with a sense of hopefulness for the future and not despair. I can’t wait for the next installment because this series gets better and better.Notable Scene:I lay awake that night for the longest time, dwelling on all the old questions. I’d never understood my place in this world or the next. Why had I been given this gift if not for some larger purpose? Papa never had answers. De didn’t like to talk about the ghosts. It was our secret, he would say. Our cross to bear. And we must never, ever tell Mama. She wouldn’t understand.Looking back, I could see how easily he’d put me off… about the ghosts, about my birth, about everything. He and Mama had taken me in when I was only a few days old, but I still knew nothing of how I had come to them or of my biological parents. All my queries had been met with a wariness that had made me so uncomfortable I’d finally stopped asking. But I knew there were things they hadn’t told me. Especially Papa. He’d never even mentioned that realm of unseen ghosts-the Others-until it was too late, until I’d already fallen for Devlin. Now I had to wonder what else he’d kept from me. What other terrors lay in wait for me?The Graveyard Queen Series:0.5. The Abandoned1. The Restorer2. The Kingdom3. The ProphetFTC Advisory: Harlequin/Mira provided me with a copy of The Kingdom. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.
  • (3/5)
    This is the second book in the series and I feel like I missed a few things by not reading it first. The story is still good but I feel if I had read the first would of not been lost and confused. I do want to go and read it nowAmelia Gray sees ghosts and she restores grave yard. Amelia has been hired to restore Thorngate cemetery in Asher Falls.The only way into the town now is across a ferry over a Asher Reservoir or bell lake as locals call it because of at least one cemetery is buried under the reservoir and people hear the bells ring.Thane Asher heir to his grandfathers money. Pell Asher.The town of Asher Falls is almost a ghost town. Amelia sees lots of ghosts around the town and feels weird things. Thier are pictures with ghosts in them. pentagrams and talk of witches. She finds a hidden grave outside the cemetery. People warn her away and threatens her. One of the ghosts she sees she knows was murdered but everyone says she died in a fire.the society she thought had hired her was a local historicaol soiety but others say it was witches who brought her here.If I saw ghosts and wanted to ignore them I don't think I would work in cemeterys like Amelia and her father do. I was lent this ebook in exchange of honest review.03/27/2012 PUB Harlequin Mira Books
  • (4/5)
    I remember reading the Gothic romances when I was younger and always loved them. Unfortunately that genre has pretty died. THE KINGDOM has that gothic feel to it that I have always been drawn too. And the heroine definitely needs rescued a lot similar to the heroines of the past. Oh and there are definite romantic overtones to the story.This is a book that I would recommend. The pacing is spot on with a growing eeriness and tension that grows throughout the book. And her characters are ones that stand out and will stay with a person long after the book is finished. I know that the series follows Amelia but I would love to see a spin off featuring some of the unique folks that you meet in Asher Falls.I have always been pretty anal about starting a series in the beginning however lately I have stumbled onto some great series a bit into them. THE KINGDOM is actually the second book the Graveyard Queen series and while I plan on picking up the first book it’s not because I feel as though I am missing anything. Instead it is because I really like Amelia’s character and the gothic tone of the book.I rate this book a 4.2.***I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest interview. No monies have or will exchange hands.
  • (5/5)
    If you are in the mood for ghosts and a spooky story, have I got the book for you. Amelia Gray restores cemeteries. She also sees ghosts. She is adopted and curious about her heritage. When she takes a job in Asher Falls, she begins to unravel the complicated story of her life. This book has a seriously gothic atmosphere filled with portents, creepy characters, and strange circumstances. Because she has seen ghosts since she was a small child, she is used to being alone and lonely. She can't go out after sunset. She is good at ignoring the ghosts and following the rules her father set down to keep her safe but her adventures in the first book of this series - The Restorer - opened her up to ghosts. Almost the first thing she does when she comes to town is rescue a dog that had been used as bait in dog fighting and then abandoned. Angus becomes her faithful companion and a good guard both against the ghosts and the humans who frighten her.Amelia also meets Thane Asher who is the adopted grandchild of the man who controls the whole town and who has hatched a number of Machiavellian schemes. They form a sort of tentative relationship that might be a romance if she wasn't hung up on the guy she left in Charleston and he wasn't hung up on his fiance who died in a car accident. And, then, Amelia isn't sure who she can trust in the town and is hesitant to trust him. This was a spooky story that was a real page-turner. I recommend it to anyone who likes modern gothics. The story stands alone but read The Restorer first to get to know Amelia. The Prophet, book three in this series, will be published soon too.
  • (5/5)
    This is the second book in the Graveyard Queen series. The third book in the series, The Prophet, release in April 2012. I got an advanced reading copy of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. I absolutely loved the first book in this series, The Restorer, and was very excited to read this book. I loved the haunting setting, the beautiful writing, and the tragic characters. We learn a lot about Amelia's past in this book and it was a wonderful read.Amelia is leaving Charleston behind to travel to the isolated mountain village of Asher Falls to restore a cemetery there. Upon arrival she meets the dashing Thane Asher who tells her about the first cemetary underneath what is now Bell Lake. Why did they flood this cemetary? Who hired Amelia to restore the newer, Asher cemetary? Why is Amelia so drawn to this town and to the secret grave she finds at the bottom of the cliffs? There is an evil the haunts this town and Amelia needs to solve the riddle behind it before the evil takes her too.I love Stevens writing style; it is haunting, mysterious, and beautiful...just an absolute joy to read. The plot is creepy, compelling, and made the book impossible to put down. This book has a very southern gothic feel to it.Amelia is a great character. She has a backbone and is brave, yet still comes across as vulnerable at times. There were a few times in this book where Amelia did some really stupid and dangerous things, these were those moments in a horror movie where you yell "No! Don't go into the dark forest by yourself!" So a couple times I was exasperated with her, but I still just love her character so much and love how her curiousity drives her.Devlin isn't in this book at all. We see a couple letters to Amelia from him and Amelia pines for him, but he is never present. Instead the playboyish Asher Thane is the male lead. I enjoyed Asher; he was a complex character, that had mysterious motives. His character worked wonderfully with Amelia and he gives Devlin a run for his money.The plot is wonderfully woven; elements from the first book are woven into the story seemlessly and you can really tell that Stevens meticulously planned this whole story out. I loved the mystery, the creepiness, and the way everything was woven so neatly together. Some of the things revealed in the second half of the book will absolutely blow you away; I was surprised and stunned. The book does end with a pretty big cliffhanger...so I am excited that I got the third book The Prophet for review last week....I will be reading it soon.Overall I just loved this book. The writing is so beautiful and easy to read; it just flows so nicely. The characters are realistic, complicated, and absolutely endearing. The plot is complex, mysterious, and very well woven together. The book was incredibly engaging and I just had a ton of trouble putting it down. This book is very much a gothic paranormal mystery of sorts. It is different from all the other urban fantasy out there, but should really appeal to fans of that genre. I highly, highly recommend this series to fans of gothic literature or fans of urban fantasy/paranormal stories. This is seriously one of my favorite series right now. I cannot wait to read The Prophet!
  • (4/5)
    From my blogAmanda Stevens has a way with words, she creates a euphoric creepy atmosphere that you can visualise and at times feel. Such a great build up with the mystery tension weaving around as you read. I enjoyed taking my time and being fully engaged in the story, blocking everything else out.Amelia knows she is different, not an outcast but different. She has been requested to go restore another cemetery and when she gets there she doesn't understand the natural pull of belonging but in a scary way. She is there to do a job and will fulfill it even though she knows she is not from breaking her fathers rules she is no longer safe and has put herself at mysterious risk. Asher Falls has the feel of a ghost town, is it deserted or not, why does everyone stay in after dark, trying to stay safe when dusk falls. All these questions and those around her purposely trying to make her uncomfortable. If they are not they are either saving her from troubled situations or possibly manipulating her in some way. Amelia continues to think about her forbidden feelings she has for Delvin, the haunted detective from The Restorer. This causes guilty feelings when she starts to have a connection with Thane. I would highly recommend reading this series in order, a great flow from one to the other but great on their own also. The outcome of the mystery was perfect, the dark family secrets and Asher Fall, the overall pull Amelia felt while there and why she was the chosen restorer. There were a few small unfinished business scenarios for me but they didn't take away from this fantastic creepy mystery. A favourite quoteAs I hurried along the path, my nerve endings tingled with an awareness I didn't understand. It was as if some long-dormant instinct had suddenly come alive, and I could feel the forest reaching out to me, hear the leaves whispering to me once again.