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The Restorer

The Restorer

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The Restorer

4/5 (43 valutazioni)
385 pagine
5 ore
Sep 12, 2016


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


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

My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protectmyself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to these rules passeddown from my father…until now.

Detective John Devlin needs my help to find a killer, but he is haunted by ghosts whoshadow his every move. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed tokeep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the headstonesymbols lead me closer to truth and to the gossamer veil that separates this world fromthe next.
Sep 12, 2016

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 Restorer - Amanda Stevens



I was nine when I saw my first ghost.

My father and I were raking leaves in the cemetery where he’d worked for years as the caretaker. It was early autumn, not yet cool enough for a sweater, but on that particular afternoon there was a noticeable bite in the air as the sun dipped toward the horizon. A mild breeze carried the scent of wood smoke and pine needles, and as the wind picked up, a flock of black birds took flight from the treetops and glided like a storm cloud across the pale blue sky.

I put a hand to my eyes as I watched them. When my gaze finally dropped, I saw him in the distance. He stood beneath the drooping branches of a live oak, and the green-gold light that glimmered down through the Spanish moss cast a preternatural glow on the space around him. But he was in shadows, so much so that I wondered for a moment if he was only a mirage.

As the light faded, he became more defined, and I could even make out his features. He was old, even more ancient than my father, with white hair brushing the collar of his suit coat and eyes that seemed to burn with an inner flame.

My father was bent to his work and as the rake moved steadily over the graves, he said under his breath, Don’t look at him.

I turned in surprise. You see him, too?

Yes, I see him. Now get back to work.

But who is he—

I said don’t look at him!

His sharp tone stunned me. I could count on one hand the number of times he’d ever raised his voice to me. That he had done so now, without provocation, made me instantly tear up. The one thing I could never abide was my father’s disapproval.


There was regret in his tone and what I would later come to understand as pity in his blue eyes.

I’m sorry I spoke so harshly, but it’s important that you do as I say. You mustn’t look at him, he said in a softer tone. Any of them.

Is he a—


Something cold touched my spine and it was all I could do to keep my gaze trained on the ground.

Papa, I whispered. I had always called him this. I don’t know why I’d latched on to such an old-fashioned moniker, but it suited him. He had always seemed very old to me, even though he was not yet fifty. For as long as I could remember, his face had been heavily lined and weathered, like the cracked mud of a dry creek bed, and his shoulders drooped from years of bending over the graves.

But despite his poor posture, there was great dignity in his bearing and much kindness in his eyes and in his smile. I loved him with every fiber of my nine-year-old being. He and Mama were my whole world. Or had been, until that moment.

I saw something shift in Papa’s face and then his eyes slowly closed in resignation. He laid aside our rakes and placed his hand on my shoulder.

Let’s rest for a spell, he said.

We sat on the ground, our backs to the ghost, as we watched dusk creep in from the Lowcountry. I couldn’t stop shivering, even though the waning light was still warm on my face.

Who is he? I finally whispered, unable to bear the quiet any longer.

I don’t know.

Why can’t I look at him? It occurred to me then that I was more afraid of what Papa was about to tell me than I was of the ghost.

You don’t want him to know that you can see him.

Why not? When he didn’t answer, I picked up a twig and poked it through a dead leaf, spinning it like a pinwheel between my fingers. Why not, Papa?

Because what the dead want more than anything is to be a part of our world again. They’re like parasites, drawn to our energy, feeding off our warmth. If they know you can see them, they’ll cling to you like blight. You’ll never be rid of them. And your life will never again be your own.

I don’t know if I completely understood what he told me, but the notion of being haunted forever terrified me.

Not everyone can see them, he said. For those of us who can, there are certain precautions we must take in order to protect ourselves and those around us. The first and most important is this—never acknowledge the dead. Don’t look at them, don’t speak to them, don’t let them sense your fear. Even when they touch you.

A chill shimmied over me. They…touch you?

Sometimes they do.

And you can feel it?

He drew a breath. Yes. You can feel it.

I threw away the stick, and pulled up my knees, wrapping my arms tightly around them. Somehow, even at my young age, I was able to remain calm on the outside, but my insides had gone numb with dread.

The second thing you must remember is this, Papa said. Never stray too far from hallowed ground.

What’s hallowed ground?

The old part of this cemetery is hallowed ground. There are other places, too, where you’ll be safe. Natural places. After a while, instinct will lead you to them. You’ll know where and when to seek them out.

I tried to digest this puzzling detail, but I really didn’t understand the concept of hallowed ground, although I’d always known the old part of the cemetery was special.

Nestled against the side of a hill and protected by the outstretched arms of the live oaks, Rosehill was shady and beautiful, the most serene place I could imagine. It had been closed to the public for years, and sometimes as I wandered alone—and often lonely—through the lush fern beds and long curtains of silvery moss, I pretended the crumbling angels were wood nymphs and fairies and I their ruler, queen of my very own graveyard kingdom.

My father’s voice brought me back to the real world. Rule Number Three, he said. 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.

Are there any more rules? I asked, because I didn’t know what else I was supposed to say.

Yes, but we’ll talk about the rest later. It’s getting late. We should probably head home before your mother starts to worry.

Can she see them?

No. And you mustn’t tell her that you can.

Why not?

She doesn’t believe in ghosts. She’d think you’re imagining things. Or telling stories.

I would never lie to Mama!

I know that. But this has to be our secret. When you’re older, you’ll understand. For now, just do your best to follow the rules and everything will be fine. Can you do that?

Yes, Papa. But even as I promised, it was all I could do to keep from glancing over my shoulder.

The breeze picked up and the chill inside me deepened. Somehow, I managed to keep from turning, but I knew the ghost had drifted closer. Papa knew it, too. I could feel the tension in him as he murmured, No more talking. Just remember what I told you.

I will, Papa.

The ghost’s frigid breath feathered down the back of my neck and I started to tremble. I couldn’t help myself.

Cold? my father asked in his normal voice. Well, it’s getting to be that time of year. Summer can’t last forever.

I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. The ghost’s hands were in my hair. He lifted the golden strands, still warm from the sun, and let them sift through his fingers.

Papa got to his feet and pulled me up with him. The ghost skittered away for a moment, then floated back.

We best be getting on home. Your mother’s cooking up a mess of shrimp tonight. He picked up the rakes and hoisted them to his shoulder.

And grits? I asked, though my voice was hardly louder than a whisper.

I expect so. Come on. Let’s cut through the old cemetery. I want to show you the work I’ve done on some of the gravestones. I know how much you love the angels.

He took my hand and squeezed my fingers in reassurance as we set out across the cemetery, the ghost at our heels.

By the time we reached the old section, Papa had already pulled the key from his pocket. He turned the lock and the heavy iron gate swung silently inward on well-oiled hinges.

We stepped through into that dusky sanctuary and suddenly I wasn’t afraid anymore. My newfound courage emboldened me. I pretended to trip and when I bent to tie my shoelaces, I glanced back at the gate. The ghost hovered just outside. It was obvious he was unable to enter, and I couldn’t help but give a childish smirk.

When I straightened, Papa glared down at me. Rule Number Four, he said sternly. Never, ever tempt fate.

* * *

The childhood memory flitted away as the waitress approached with my first course—roasted green-tomato soup, which I’d been told was a house specialty—along with the pecan pie I planned to have for dessert. Six months ago, I’d moved from Columbia to Charleston, making it my home base, but I’d never had dinner at any of the upscale waterfront restaurants. My budget normally didn’t allow for fine dining, but tonight was special.

As the waitress topped off my champagne, I caught her curious, sidelong glance, but I didn’t let it bother me. Just because I happened to be alone was no reason to deprive myself of a celebration.

Earlier, I’d taken a leisurely stroll along the Battery, pausing at the very tip of the peninsula to enjoy the sunset. Behind me, the whole city was bathed in crimson; before me, a fractured sky shifted into kaleidoscopic patterns of rose, lavender and gold. A Carolina sunset never failed to move me, but with the approaching twilight everything had turned gray. Mist drifted in from the sea and settled over the treetops like a silver canopy. As I watched the gauzy swirl from a table by the window, my elation faded.

Dusk is a dangerous time for people like me. An in-between time just as the seashore and the edge of a forest are in-between places. The Celts had a name for these landscapes—caol’ ait. Thin places where the barrier between our world and the next is but a gossamer veil.

Turning from the window, I sipped champagne, determined not to let the encroaching spirit world spoil my celebration. After all, it wasn’t every day an unexpected windfall came my way, and for barely lifting a finger.

My work usually consists of many hours of manual labor for modest pay. I’m a cemetery restorer. I travel all over the South, cleaning up forgotten and abandoned graveyards and repairing worn and broken headstones. It’s painstaking, sometimes back-breaking work, and a huge cemetery can take years to restore fully, so there is no such thing as instant gratification in my profession. But I love what I do. We Southerners worship our ancestors, and I’m gratified that my efforts in some small way enable people of the present to more fully appreciate those who came before us.

In my spare time, I run a blog called Digging Graves, where taphophiles—lovers of cemeteries—and other like-minded folks can exchange photographs, restoration techniques and, yes, even the occasional ghost story. I’d started the blog as a hobby, but over the past few months, my readership had exploded.

It all started with the restoration of an old cemetery in the small, northeast Georgia town of Samara. The freshest grave there was over a hundred years old and some of the earliest dated back to pre–Civil War days.

The cemetery had been badly neglected since the local historical society ran out of money in the sixties. The sunken graves were overgrown, the headstones worn nearly smooth by erosion. Vandals had been busy there, too, and the first order of business was to pick up and cart away nearly four decades of trash.

Rumors of a haunting had persisted for years and some of the townspeople refused to set foot through the gates. It was hard to find and keep good help, even though I knew for a fact there were no ghosts in Samara Cemetery.

I ended up doing most of the work myself, but once the cleanup was completed, the attitude of the locals transformed dramatically. They said it was as if a dark cloud had been lifted from their town, and some went so far as to claim that the restoration had been both physical and spiritual.

A reporter and film crew from a station in Athens were sent out to interview me and when the clip turned up online, someone noticed a reflection in the background that had a vague, humanlike form. It appeared to be floating over the cemetery, ascending heavenward.

There was nothing supernatural about the anomaly, merely a trick of the light, but dozens of paranormal websites ran with it and the YouTube video went viral. That’s when people from all over the world started flocking to Digging Graves, where I was known as the Graveyard Queen. The traffic became so heavy that the producers of a ghost hunter television program made an offer to advertise on my site.

Which is how I came to be sipping champagne and savoring a wild mushroom tart at the glamorous Pavilion on the Bay restaurant.

Life was treating me well these days, I thought a little smugly, and then I saw the ghost.

Even worse, he saw me.


I don’t often recognize the faces of the entities I encounter, but at times I have experienced a prickle of déjà vu, as if I might have glimpsed them in passing. I’m fortunate that in all my twenty-seven years, I’ve never lost anyone truly close to me. I do remember an encounter back in high school with the ghost of a teacher, though. Her name was Miss Compton and she’d been killed in a car crash over a holiday long weekend. When classes resumed the following Tuesday, I’d stayed late to work on a project and I saw her spirit hovering in the dusky hallway near my locker. The manifestation had caught me off guard because in life, Miss Compton had been so demure and unassuming. I hadn’t expected her to come back grasping and greedy, hungrily seeking what she could never have again.

Somehow I managed to keep my poise as I grabbed my backpack and closed my locker. She trailed me down the long hallway and through the front door, her chill breath on my neck, her icy hands clutching at my clothes. It was a long time before the air around me warmed and I knew she’d dissolved back into the netherworld. After that I made sure I was safely away from school before twilight, which meant no extracurricular activities. No ball games, no parties, no prom. I couldn’t take the chance of running into Miss Compton again. I was too afraid she might somehow latch on to me and then my life would never again be my own.

I turned my attention back to the ghost in the restaurant. I recognized him, too, but I didn’t know him personally. I’d seen his picture on the front page of the Post and Courier a few weeks ago. His name was Lincoln McCoy, a prominent Charleston businessman who’d slaughtered his wife and children one night and then shot himself in the head rather than surrender to the S.W.A.T. team that had surrounded his house.

The way he appeared to me now was quite ethereal, with no evidence of the wrongs he’d committed on himself or his family. Except for his eyes. They were dark and blazing, yet at the same time icy. As he peered at me across the restaurant, I saw a faint smile touch his ghostly features.

Instead of flinching or glancing away in fright, I stared right back at him. He’d drifted into the restaurant behind an elderly couple who were now waiting to be seated. As his eyes held mine, I pretended to look right through him, even going so far as to wave at an imaginary acquaintance.

The ghost glanced over his shoulder, and at that precise moment, a waitress saw my wave and lifted one finger, indicating she would be with me in a moment. I nodded, smiled and picked up my champagne glass as I turned back to the window. I didn’t look at the ghost again, but I felt his frigid presence a moment later as he glided past my table, still trailing the old couple.

I wondered why he had attached himself to that particular pair and if on some level they were aware of his presence. I wanted to warn them, but I couldn’t without giving myself away. And that was what he wanted. What he desperately craved. To be acknowledged by the living so that he could feel a part of our world again.

Hands steady, I paid my check and left the restaurant without looking back.

* * *

Once outside, I allowed myself to relax as I walked back along White Point Gardens, in no particular hurry to seek the sanctuary of my home. Whatever spirits had managed to slip through the veil at dusk were already among us and as long as I remained vigilant until the sun came up, I needn’t cower from the icy drafts and swirling gray forms.

The mist had thickened. The Civil War cannons and statues in the park were invisible from the walkway, the bandstand and live oaks nothing more than vague silhouettes. But I could smell the flowers, that luscious blend of what I had come to think of as the Charleston scent—magnolia, hyacinth and Confederate jasmine.

Somewhere in the darkness, a foghorn sounded and out in the harbor, a lighthouse flashed warnings to the cargo ships traversing the narrow channel between Sullivan’s Island and Fort Sumter. As I stopped to watch the light, an uneasy chill crept over me. Someone was behind me in the fog. I could hear the soft yet unmistakable clop of leather soles against the seawall.

The footfalls stopped suddenly and I turned with a breathless shiver. For a long moment, nothing happened and I began to think I might have imagined the sound. Then he emerged from the veil of mist, sending the blood out of my heart with a painful contraction.

Tall, broad-shouldered and dressed all in black, he might have stepped from the dreamy hinterland of some childhood fable. I could barely make out his features, but I knew instinctively that he was handsome and brooding. The way he carried himself, the almost painful glare of his eyes through the mist, sent icy needles stinging down my spine.

He was no ghost, but dangerous to me nonetheless and so compelling I couldn’t tear my gaze away as he moved toward me. And now I could see water droplets glistening in his dark hair and the gleam of a silver chain tucked inside the collar of his dark shirt.

Behind him, translucent and hardly discernible from the mist, were two ghosts, that of a woman and a little girl. They were both looking at me, too, but I kept my gaze trained on the man.

Amelia Gray?

Yes? Since my blog had become so popular, I was occasionally approached by strangers who recognized me from website photos or from the infamous ghost video. The South, particularly the Charleston area, was home to dozens of avid taphophiles, but I didn’t think this man was a fan or a fellow aficionado. His eyes were cold, his manner aloof. He had not sought me out to chitchat about headstones.

I’m John Devlin, Charleston P.D. As he spoke, he hauled out his wallet and presented his ID and badge, which I obligingly glanced at even though my heart had started to beat an agonizing staccato.

A police detective!

This couldn’t be good.

Something terrible must have happened. My parents were getting on in years. What if one of them had had an accident or taken ill or…

Tamping down an unreasonable panic, I slipped my hands into the pockets of my trench coat. If something had happened to Mama or Papa, someone would have called. This wasn’t about them. This was about me.

I waited for an explanation as those lovely apparitions hovered protectively around John Devlin. From what I could see of the woman’s features, she’d been stunning, with high cheekbones and proudly flaring nostrils that suggested a Creole heritage. She wore a pretty summer dress that swirled like gossamer around her long, slender legs.

The child looked to have been four or five when she died. Dark curls framed her pale face as she floated at the man’s side, reaching out now and then to clutch at his leg or tap on his knee.

He seemed oblivious to their presence, though he was clearly haunted. It showed in his face, in the eyes that were as hooded as they were piercing, and I couldn’t help wondering about his relationship to the ghosts.

I kept my eyes focused on his face. He was watching me, too, with an air of suspicion and superiority that could make dealing with the police an unpleasant ordeal, even over something as trivial as a parking ticket.

What do you want? I asked, though I hadn’t meant for the query to sound so blunt. I’m not a confrontational person. Years of living with ghosts had whittled away my spontaneity, leaving me overly disciplined and reserved.

Devlin moved a step closer and my hands curled into fists inside my coat pockets. A thrill chased across my skull and I wanted to tell him to keep his distance, don’t come any closer. I said nothing, of course, as I braced myself against the frigid breath of his phantoms.

A mutual acquaintance suggested I get in touch with you, he said.

And who would that be?

Camille Ashby. She thought you might be able to help me out.

With what?

A police matter.

Now I was more curious than cautious—which made me also foolish.

Dr. Camille Ashby was an administrator at Emerson University, an elite, private college with powerful alumni that included some of the most prominent lawyers, judges and businessmen in South Carolina. Recently, I’d accepted a commission to restore an old cemetery located on university property. One of Dr. Ashby’s stipulations was that I not post any pictures on my blog until the restoration was complete.

I understood her concern. The dismal condition of the graveyard wasn’t a favorable reflection on a university that espoused the traditions and ethics of the old South. As Benjamin Franklin had put it: One can tell the morals of a culture by the way they treat their dead.


What I didn’t yet know was why she’d sent John Devlin to find me.

I understand you’ve been working in Oak Grove Cemetery, he said.

I suppressed a shudder.

Oak Grove was one of those rare graveyards that evoked uneasiness, that literally made my skin crawl. The only other time I’d experienced a similar sensation was while visiting a small cemetery in Kansas that had been dubbed one of the seven gateways to hell.

I adjusted my collar against the glacial prickles at my nape. What’s this about?

He ignored my question and asked one of his own. When was the last time you were there?

A few days ago.

Can you be more specific?

Last Friday.

Five days, he murmured. You’re sure about that?

Yes, of course. A big storm blew in that night and it’s been raining off and on ever since. I’ve been waiting for the ground to dry out.

Camille…Dr. Ashby said you’ve been photographing the graves. He waited for my nod. I’d like to take a look at those shots.

Something about his tone, about this whole conversation put me on the defensive. Or maybe it was his ghosts. Can you tell me why? And I’d also like to know how you found me tonight.

You mentioned your dinner plans to Dr. Ashby.

I may have named the restaurant, but I didn’t tell her I’d be taking an after-dinner stroll, because I didn’t know it myself at the time.

Call that part a hunch, he said.

A hunch…or had he followed me from the Pavilion?

Dr. Ashby has my number. Why didn’t you just call me?

I tried that. No answer.

Well, yes, there was that. I’d turned off my phone for the evening. Still, I didn’t like any of this. John Devlin was a haunted man and that made him a dangerous man in my world.

He was also persistent and perhaps intuitive, so the quicker I rid myself of him the better.

Why don’t you give me a call first thing in the morning? I said in a brisk, dismissive tone. I’m sure whatever it is can wait until then.

No, I’m afraid it can’t. This has to be done tonight.

I shivered at his foreboding tone. How ominous-sounding. Well, you’ve certainly gone to a great deal of trouble to track me down, so I suppose you may as well tell me why.

His gaze swept the darkness behind me and I had to resist the urge to glance over my shoulder. The rain uncovered a body in one of the old graves at Oak Grove.

It wasn’t unheard of for old bones to wash up over time, due to rotting coffins and eroding soil.

Do you mean skeletal remains? I asked with some delicacy.

No, I mean fresh remains. A homicide victim, he replied bluntly. His gaze lit on my face, studying me intently as if gauging my reaction.

A homicide. In the cemetery where I’d been working alone.

That’s why you want my photographs. You’re hoping they’ll help pinpoint how long the body has been there, I said.

If we’re lucky.

This I understood and was only too happy to cooperate. I use a digital camera, but I print out most of my shots. I happen to have some enlargements in my briefcase, if you’d care to follow me back to my car. I nodded in the direction from which we’d both come. I can email you the rest of the images as soon as I get home.

Thanks. That would be helpful.

I started walking and he fell into step beside me.

One other thing, he said.


I’m sure I don’t have to school you on cemetery protocol, but there are certain precautions that have to be taken when dealing with an old graveyard like Oak Grove. We wouldn’t want to inadvertently desecrate a burial site. Dr. Ashby mentioned something about unmarked graves.

As you said, it’s an old cemetery. One of the sections is pre–Civil War. Over that much time, it’s not unusual for headstones to get moved or go missing altogether.

How do you locate the graves when that happens?

Any number of ways, depending on whether cost is a factor—radar, resistivity, conductivity, magnetometry. Remote sensing methods are preferred because they’re noninvasive. As is grave dousing.

Grave dousing. Is that anything like water witching? His tone gave away his skepticism.

Yes, same principle. A Y-shaped rod or sometimes a pendulum is used to divine the location of a grave. It’s been roundly debunked in scientific circles, but believe it or not, I’ve seen it work.

I’ll take your word for it. He paused. Dr. Ashby said you’d completed the preliminary mapping, so I assume you’ve already located the graves by one means or another.

Dr. Ashby is being optimistic. I have a lot more research to do before I’ll know where all the bodies are buried, so to speak.

He didn’t crack a smile at my feeble pun. But you must have a general idea.

Something in his voice bothered me and I stopped walking to glance up at him. Earlier, I’d thought his dark good looks had an almost fallen angel quality, but now he appeared merely tough and persistent. Why do I get the impression you’re not just asking for a copy of my map?

"It would save us a lot of time and potentially some bad PR if we have an

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  • (5/5)
    The RestorerThe Graveyard Queen, Book 1By: Amanda StevensNarrated by: Khristine HvamSeries: Graveyard Queen, Book 1This is my kind of ghost story! It is creepy, slightly dark, a few mysteries, a couple of men to one woman and she doesn't know who to trust, she can see ghosts, there is something darker out there, and I love this! Amelia restored cemeteries, she started with her dad at a young age. Her and her dad also share another talent, they both can see ghosts. He gives her rules to live by but she starts breaking the rules on this assignment. Someone also killed someone and put the corpse in the cemetery Amelia is working in. There are lots of action, strange situations, suspense, odd people, and more. The book ends leaving many things left untied. Definitely starting book two!The narration was great!
  • (4/5)
    OK, Amelia Grey has an unusual occupation. She restores old graveyards. Amelia also has an unusual ability to see ghosts. Interestingly enough, she doesn't see ghosts in the graveyards that she restores. The ghosts that she sees are the ones that are following others.

    This book is the first of three in a series and I really enjoyed it. I liked the way the author had a storyline and stuck with it throughout the entire book. The story ended with a nice wrap up but you know that the characters will continue to the next book. This book made me feel like I was watching an episode of a favorite mystery show on TV.

    This was a quick and easy read and I have already started book two, The Kingdom.
  • (4/5)
    Enjoyable gothic style story, encapsulating the creepy atmosphere of the graveyard perfectly. I was impressed in the way the author ended the story; too often I find the girl jumps into bed a complete stranger without thinking. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series.
  • (5/5)
    OMG, I'm in love with this book. When I get to my computer I shall tell you why...
  • (4/5)
    I can't remember where I ran into a review of this book, but I was intrigued by the idea and immediately ordered the book from Amazon. Its always risky for me to pick up a new-to-me author and sometimes that risk can really pay out big. I would say "The Restorer" lived up to my expectations. I read the short prequel "The Abandoned" can get that for free on Amazon (at least as of the time of my review). It was a quick introduction to the world and I enjoyed it but I have to say I enjoyed "The Restorer" much more, probably because it took the elements I enjoyed in "The Abandoned' and really filled them out to a thrilling full legnth novel. The premise of the story is that Amelia Gray restores cemetarys and she can see ghosts. In this world the ghosts are pretty much dark and dangerous entities that can suck your energy and soul straight from you if they become 'attached' to you. Amelia's father can also see these ghosts and he makes sure from childhood she knows the rules of dealing with the spirits. Now Amelia is restoring a particularly dark cemetary. And bodies are starting to pop up in this cemetary. Amelia meets a detective, Devlin, who invites her to assist with the investigation. He wants Amelia to provide knowledge of the cemetary that may be necessary to crack the case. Amelia is attracted to Devlin, but unfortunately he has two ghosts attached to him, although he is unaware of this fact since he can't see ghosts. The mystery met my approval as I was unable to guess this one before the reveal. There were plenty of twists and turns and other unseeable surprises along the way. Amelia is a likeable character and it was easy to root for her. The cemetary made a wonderful location and Steven's descriptions were wonderfully creepy. There were more than a few moments were I was more creeped out that I like to be when reading. A couple of negatives however: The book was certainly slow to start and it took awhile to be invested in the plot and the characters. Also, though the main mystery was solved and the murders resolved there were many, many unanswered questions. I know this is the start of at least a trilogy and I expect there to be threads left dangling in an attempt to draw me to the next installment, but this was over the top. There were so many ideas brought up only to be dropped and never mentioned again. This became frusterating and it didn't help my overall opinion of the book. All things considered I still find this book to be stronger than many and I am sure that I will want to read the sequels.
  • (5/5)
    Wow! The first book in the Graveyard Queen series is a doozy. We are introduced the Amelia Grey, her family and detective John Devlin. Amelia is a graveyard restorer and I really can't think of a better job. She travels around, usually in the South, doing what she does best.The reason she chose this profession? She grew up near a graveyard which her father tended. She spent many days playing there - until she saw her first ghost. After that, things got a little strange and hasn't stopped since. When she meets John Devlin over a dead body she instantly notices that he has two ghosts of his own, but he doesn't know. His dead wife and daughter. Why haven't they passed over? When is the real purpose of the Order of the Coffin and Claw? And, for God's sake, who is killing all these people in Oak Grove cemetery?A thriller of the first order and one you shouldn't miss.
  • (4/5)
    What I Liked
    Well, I burned through this in about 24 hours. That should tell you pretty much all you need to know. However...

    Amelia. Amelia is not your usual urban fantasy/horror heroine. So far, she doesn't seem to have mad martial arts skills, she doesn't have some amazing world-destroying power, and she isn't drop-dead gorgeous (but insecure). Nor does she have a string of alpha-males panting after her. She's a pretty ordinary woman running her own business - except for her ability to see ghosts.

    This ghost-seeing thing was something else I liked about this book/world. It's not what you might call a power - more like a problem. If the ghosts know you can see them, they'll be able to fasten on you and suck your life energy away. Cool stuff. So Amelia spends her life avoiding ghosts, and the people they haunt - hence the job that means she can spend a lot of time on hallowed ground, where she's safe from ghosts.

    I liked Amelia for her very ordinariness; it gave the story a scarier feel, I think. There wasn't that comfortable disconnect that comes from reading about a character who's so gorgeous and powerful that you can't quite believe in them.

    There's obviously some background involved that we don't get - maybe that's for a later book.

    I also liked that Amelia has a trade, and we get a few little details about what cemetery restoration involves. What can I say? I like collecting odd little bits of knowledge.

    The World. Interestingly, this is pretty much the real world, except for the existence of ghosts (and maybe some other stuff). But - at least as far as has been revealed - you're not tripping over werewolves and vampires everywhere you go. This is also a pleasant change (not that I've anything against werewolves and vampires, but it's nice to have a change of pace every now and then).

    It's pretty obvious that there are things Amelia doesn't know about - hopefully, we'll find out more in later books.

    The feel of this book is different from most urban fantasy - it's quieter and creepier, and I'd put it somewhere between urban fantasy and horror.

    What I Could Have Done Without
    That thing where someone says "I'm going to tell you there's a secret, but I'm not going to tell you what it is, or I'm going to be interrupted before I tell you." It's so... done to death.

    I did spot who the murderer was quite early on - although not why.

    A solid four-star read; it only doesn't get five stars because it didn't have that extra special sort of something. However, I'm definitely going to read the others in the series, and can recommend this unreservedly for anyone who wants UF/horror that works on the creep-factor rather than just splashing blood about.
  • (4/5)
    I have to admit I really enjoyed this book. Mostly I enjoyed a paranormal mystery/romance book in which the protagonist acts as a mature adult. I've read too many stories in the past where the main character had all the emotional maturity of a 12-year old.

    Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer who is able to see ghosts. But these are not the "Hey, how ya doing?" kind of ghosts. These are creepy, chilling, parasitic kind of ghosts. She has lived her life mindful of the "rules" her father has taught her to protect herself from the spirits she sees. The story is very atmospheric, set in Charleston where Amelia has accepted a job restoring an old graveyard. But a murdered woman's corpse is found in the cemetery and Amelia meets Detective John Devlin. Unknown to Devlin, he has two ghosts haunting him, making him off-limits to someone with Amelia's abilities. But then another body is found in the same graveyard, and the two must work together to stop a murderer.

    There were some threads not tied up at the end, but I expected that given that this is just the first book in a projected series. I look forward to reading the next book in The Graveyard Queen series.
  • (4/5)

    Amelia is a graveyard restorer and she can see ghosts. According to her father, she mustn't acknowledge them or something horrible will happen. So all her life she followed a few simple rules: never acknowledge the dead, never go too far from hollowed ground, keep the distance from those who are haunted and never tempt fate. It was easy to follow them until she met John Devlin. (For UF lowers: if you would remove paranormal elements from Jerricho Barrons, I think you'd get John Devlin.)

    Though I am not a fan of "Little Did He Know" writing, the ending made me change my mind. It felt perfect to end the book with "Little Did He Know" sentence.
  • (2/5)
    This is a very mediocre mystery with some ghostly presence..
  • (5/5)
    I checked this book our of my local library. I saw it recommended by someone on my twitter feed and decided to check it out. I loved it. The characters were well written and likable. It was different than the other "I see dead people" books. It had suspense and twists. I finished the first one after two days and immediately checked the next one in the series out of the library. I am now onto the third book and looking forward to the latest in the series coming out later this year. I highly recommend the series.
  • (5/5)
    The Restorer
    4.5 Stars

    Narration: Khristine Hvam's soft southern accent is perfect for conveying the haunting atmosphere of the story.

    The characters, both primary and secondary, are well developed and interesting. Amelia is intelligent and inquisitive but lonely and somewhat emotionally and socially inept due to her "gift" and her upbringing. It is endearing to see her experience new things and slowly come out of her shell with Devlin, who is oh-so sexy and honorable but also dark, haunted and tortured. Their intense physical attraction and burgeoning emotional bond is captivating, although their one intimate scene is a tad too twisted perhaps even bordering on the grotesque, which may not have been what Stevens was striving for.

    The mystery is excellent with some clever red herrings that are completely misleading when it comes to identifying the killer although, in hindsight, there are more than enough clues to figure it out.

    The graveyard imagery and symbolism is fascinating and the creepy atmosphere and gothic influences definitely give you the shivers.

    All in all, an original and compelling premise and I look forward to continuing with the series, which will hopefully provide answers to the numerous unanswered questions left at the end of this installment, such as the secret that Amelia's parents are keeping from her and the precise nature of the ghosts that she can see and the aggressive shadow that she encounters.
  • (2/5)
    Not really my type of book. A woman who sees ghosts, as her father did, but ignores them so they can't get a hold on her.
    In the course of her job as a cemetery restorer, she gets involved in a murder and is attracted to the detective, who has ghosts of his former life trailing after him.
    The mystery part of the plot is fine, but the overwhelming attraction that they feel for each other gets a bit tiring--something seen far too often in far too many books..
  • (4/5)
    Fun with a bit more of a quiet, macabre bent than most urban fantasy. Heroine is not 'uber end-all-be-all kick-ass zomg' superhero, just a regular woman who sees ghosts...unfortunately. She's got a quiet, normal career, a quiet, normal life, and ends up finding something that pulls her into something not so quiet or normal. Enjoyed it very much -- the rest of the series is on my to-read list, with the next book on my reader already.
  • (3/5)
    Very entertaining first of four in The Graveyard Queen series. I've never considered the profession of "graveyard restorer", but I can see how this would be a very specialized field for cities steeped in history. The twist is that this graveyard restorer, Amelia Gray, can also see ghosts.

    The murder mystery left me a little flat in that there were several loose ends, and lots of unanswered questions. To avoid spoilers, I will not state them here, but this is the first in the series, so I hope to return to these issues in subsequent books. It did, however, do what every author must strive for: I scrambled for the next book!

  • (4/5)
    Amelia can see dead people - okay, not exactly like the movie The 6th Sense, but it still gave me chills like that movie did. Amelia restores graves and graveyards that have been neglected over the years. While restoring one that has been particularly overgrown, a dead body (or actually a series of them) are discovered there and she is drawn into the murder investigation. And, of course, her safety is also challenged. Her ability to see ghosts (something that her father has told her to keep secret and never acknowledge to the ghosts themselves) both poses challenges to her ability to help the lead investigator (Devlin), who just happens to be haunted by his dearly departed wife and daughter. But, these ghosts also surprise her when they do something she doesn't expect. Amanda Stevens is a new author to me, and I must say that I will definitely be reading more from her. The easy, natural way in which she writes allows you to read quickly while still feeling like you are getting a lot of depth of character and background into the setting. I enjoyed the dialogue - it didn't seem forced or simply unnecessary. The beginning of the book was a little slow for me - I don't need a big bang to start off, but I haven't read anything like a ghost story in a while and I wasn't sure my heart was in it. But, then the mystery and the fear and the tension and her love interest all sucked me into the story. While it was a slow start, the middle and ending (for me) was a non-stop enjoyable ride and I stayed up WAY too late last night to finish it. I will be looking for the second book in this series as well as others she has published.
  • (5/5)
    The best ghost story I have ever personally read!
  • (5/5)
    One of the best mysteries I've read in a long time. Set in the south with the live oaks, hanging moss and crumbling graveyards, this is both thrilling emotionally, mentally, and settingly. Okay, I made up a word, but the setting is half the charm of the book. I highly recommend you run to the bookstore for this one.
  • (5/5)
    I just could not put this book down. I thought I knew who the killer was towards the middle and I was right. But the circumstances surrounding the killer I didn't foresee. The ending though! I need more and I need it now.
  • (3/5)
    The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

    ★ ★ ★ ½

    This book was listed as a paranormal romance but I found this more to be a paranormal mystery. Of course romance was present but not to the extent one would think, and I was ok with that since I'm not a huge romance fan.

    I really did enjoy this book. I loved the main character, she reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse without quite as much whining. And the storyline was quite intriguing and kept my attention from the beginning to the end. On the downside, I did figure out the mystery fairly quickly but that didn't make the story any less fun. I am interested in the ghostly world (I was part of a paranormal research group for quite awhile) and the histories of cemeteries have always fascinated me so this was right up my lane. Given my current real-life stress, it was nice to read a fun, simple read. I look forward to the rest of her series as it is released.
  • (1/5)
    This review is spoiler-free.

    Last month, me and two friends decided to read a book together. They said: "it was your idea, so you get to pick the book". Well, I picked five books. And then they chose this one among those five. This is to say: the blame for the choice will be equally distributed!
    (And I hope that we'll read other, better books together!)

    I've read so many good things about this book in other reviews, I'm starting to think that maybe the one I've just read was not the same one they wrote about. Or maybe aliens are involved. Who knows.

    Amelia is a cemetery restorer who can see ghosts.
    Pretty intriguing, uh? As it turned out, not so much. That's because ghosts have no other purpose and apparently nothing better to do than leech energy from the living; but if you can get on hallowed ground or act like you're not seeing them, they leave you alone. So: every time Amelia sees something ghostly, she simply looks the other way and starts thinking about how hot her love interest is.
    That got on my nerves pretty quickly.

    The mystery is nothing to write home about. That part of the plot is completely overshadowed by a bad case of instalove. The two haven't even said "hello" to each other and this is what she thinks: Tall, broad-shouldered and dressed all in black, he might have stepped from the dreamy hinterland of some childhood fable. I could barely make out his features, but I knew instinctively that he was handsome and brooding. The way he carried himself, the almost painful glare of his eyes through the mist, sent icy needles stinging down my spine.From that moment on, it's a non-stop series of tingles, shivers, shocks, electric currents and so on and so forth. It's a nice compendium of standards for male hotness; from the hands:He glanced down at the picture and I stared down at his hands. They were strong and graceful, those hands. And warm.(Sure you know they are warm just looking at them.)
    to the eyes, of course: Devlin’s secretive eyes and brooding demeanor were powerful libations to a closet romantic like everything else that just makes her all hot and bothered: The weakness I’d experienced in his presence was nothing more than a physical manifestation of my attraction to him.A fainting couch, presto!

    Even when things get more complicated and some ghost decides to be more proactive, Amelia's reactions encompass the whole gamut of the uselessness: calling the love interest, stalking the love interest, thinking about her love interest... well, you get it.
    She's always afraid of something, even when it feels like nothing really is happening.
    She's never doing anything important to change the course of events.
    She is non-confrontational, meek and lifeless.

    All in all, it was a very boring read, sometimes dotted with some interesting bits (a secret society, really? Uh, there's a hidden chamber in the cemetery!), but too little to keep my attention and definitely too little to compensate the tons of hot-shivery-manly-maleness freely dumped everywhere.

  • (4/5)
    I'm not normally one for mysteries or ghost stories, but this was offered through the B&N Nook Daily Deals for something like $1.99, and most reviews gave it 5 stars. So I figured I'd try it out.

    Well, I loved it. Stevens writes with this really intense, evocative style. I had one teeny complaint -- detailed below -- but otherwise was thoroughly captivated by her writing. It was well paced and interesting. Her protagonist, Amelia, is very relatable and practical. I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was before the big reveal, but the motivation was a surprise. I'm also interested more about how ghosts interact and affect the world -- Stevens dropped some very intriguing hints, but didn't go into too much depth (partly because of Amelia's limitations in knowledge, I assume). Overall, I quite enjoyed it except for one teeny tiny caveat.

    Basically, every time Amelia visibly reacted to something -- or was disturbed by her intense reaction to something -- Stevens would remind us that this was unusual for Amelia. She would re-detail how Amelia has learned to school her emotions and reactions at a young age and why, and stress (over and over) that her overt reactions were extremely out of character. Personally, I felt like she hammered home a little too much how Amelia is schooled at hiding her expressions and any deviation (ie, showing expression) was unusual for her. By like the 5th time, I was thinking, "Okay, we got it. You keep telling us that although she's visibly reacting and has been throughout the book, this is actually really unusual for her."

    Then again, I understand why. I'm reading the second book now, and (at least in these first few chapters) Amelia actually does seem better at schooling her emotions in a less personally shocking setting. So I guess Stevens just wanted to keep reminding us because Amelia was pretty on edge in the first book -- but then, we'd been introduced to her at an unusual time in her life.

    So, to sum up -- characterization, plotting, pace, and style are all great. Stevens has a lovely voice and is very talented. While I don't generally like mysteries, I like this protagonist and the writing style well enough that I bought the second book in the series at full price. I recommend this series to fans of Dean Koontz, or people who like paranormal stories (like the Evernight series).
  • (4/5)
    I've been jonesing for a new paranormal series (that's what happens when favorite authors come out with new books in a series, I read them with great delight and then, ack! they're over! but I need more!) and THE RESTORER fit the bill.

    It's more a southern gothic than a paranormal, really - I recently read Graveminder and the two share a similar vibe, though I thought THE RESTORER was better executed. The paranormal elements here are ghosts, the atmosphere is eerie and decadently grim. There's no appealing or sexy alternate reality - no "urban fantasy" although that's probably where this book would be shelved. Just scary ghosts that the heroine, Amelia, tries very hard to ignore.

    The love interest, John Devlin, is a pretty compelling, smoldering fellow. Like the book in general, he's dark and decadent and a little scary. The push-pull between him and Amelia is well done, full of tension. But, beware, there's no resolution for the couple. THE RESTORER is the beginning of a trilogy, apparently, and it seems like we'll have to wait for a while to find out how things unravel.

    The thread that holds THE RESTORER together is a murder mystery - a series of bodies are found buried in graveyards, years apart, and Amelia holds the key to finding out who put them there. There are a few viable suspects and I didn't guess who the killer was before the big reveal.

    But the book is really driven by personal stories that aren't resolved. There are lots of ominous hints about Amelia's family - what her father's experiences with the dead were, some secret her mother knows but won't reveal. I admit to being kind of unimpressed with Amelia's relationship with her father, the only person who knows she can see ghosts. He gives her these rules but he doesn't want to talk about them, or explain anything, or answer her questions, and for some reason this doesn't bother Amelia. (It would drive me batty).

    Devlin, for his part, is haunted. Amelia is trying to figure out who's haunting him and why; is it his wife? His child? What does his child want, since she so clearly has a goal in mind? Can the love Devlin and his wife shared truly transcend death? This was my favorite element of the book; creepy, emotionally powerful, mysterious but held my interest.

    The book definitely has some issues but that atmosphere is superb and I'm interested in reading on.
  • (5/5)
    THE RESTORER is a chilling ghost story/murder mystery. It was "now I have to sleep with all the lights on" spooky, and I devoured it! This is the story of Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer. She's become a minor celebrity as "The Graveyard Queen" among taphophiles (cemetery enthusiasts). What most people don't know about her is that she can see ghosts. When she was a young child, her father gave her strict rules for dealing with ghosts: Don't acknowledge them; stay close to hallowed ground; avoid people who are haunted; and, never tempt fate. Sounds like excellent advice to me! Unfortunately for Amelia, she becomes entangled in a murder mystery that has her breaking all the rules and paying the price for it.

    Amelia is hired to restore Oak Grove Cemetery situated on Emerson University property. Soon after she arrives, the body of a woman very recently killed is found dumped in one of the graves. This disturbing event brings her together with Detective John Devlin of the Charleston PD. There's something about Devlin that draws Amelia to him, which is most unfortunate because...he's haunted. It's not long before another murder victim is discovered, and both crimes may or may not tie in with a murder that occured 15 years ago under similar circumstances. And, is the secret organization at Emerson known as the Order of the Coffin and the Claw somehow involved? The police need Amelia's expertise in cemetery symbolism to help crack the case. So here she is, breaking the rules her father set, and most definitely tempting fate.

    THE RESTORER was a very well crafted paranormal murder mystery. It was so creepy and so good. I enjoyed the author's descriptive writing style. I loved the cemetery setting, the spooky ghosts and the sense of foreboding I felt when I knew twilight was approaching. I loved Amelia. She was a smart and tough heroine with a very unique job. I think it would be fascinating to research the history of old cemeteries and analyze gravestone carvings. I'm a bit of a taphophile too, so I was really pulled into this story.

    The Amelia/Devlin attraction was a bit unbelievable. He was so pained and withdrawn, yet she wanted him the whole book. But why? Considering his history and who his ghosts were? Eek. Personally, I would not want to open that can of worms. But then there would be moments where we'd get a fleeting glimpse of the man he used to be, and I'd think, "Is he redeemable?" Maybe. I'm very curious to see where the author takes their relationship in the next book.

    While the main mystery in THE RESTORER is wrapped up nicely, we're left with many unanswered questions. Are the members of the Order of the Coffin and the Claw good or evil? Who was the private investigator giving Amelia tips, and what does he want from her? Will Devlin ever be free of his spectral burdens? I'm looking forward to finding out some answers in the second book, THE KINGDOM.

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • (4/5)
    This one kept me guessing until the end.Ameila Gray is a cemetery restorer who finds that cemeteries are a great place, as a whole, to avoid the dead. She sees ghosts, just like her dad, and he has given her rules to live by, rules that no longer keep her safe.It starts when a body is found in a cemetry she's working on, somewhere she has photographs of, while the work goes on, more bodies are found and the killer is using her website to send messages. The detective involved has his own ghosts to deal with and it's all a mess.There are moments that don't flow as well as maybe they could but this isn't a bad read at all, I enjoyed it.
  • (5/5)
    This book series is really good! Love the ghosts and graveyards. Who knew there was a name for people who love graveyards! Taphophiles! Can't wait to read the others in this series. Love the characters -- they are so dark and tormented. This is good stuff!
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed this modern-day twisty paranormal tale of a southern young woman, Amelia Gray, who "sees dead bodies." Yes, she sees ghosts, a trait she has inherited from her father. Since the age of nine, she's had to keep this secret from everyone but her father. But, the hardest part is she cannot let the ghosts know she can see them or they will never leave her and try and suck her life force from her - haunt her. As an adult, Amelia is a graveyard restorer, an expert on cemetery restoration. Based in Charleston, she's asked to help on a case in which a dead woman's body has been found in a cemetery she's been restoring. This leads her to Detective John Devlin, and enigmatic and devilishly handsome man that has his own ghosts following him wherever he goes - though he doesn't know it. Amelia does and sees his dead wife and child at twilight when the ghosts come out. Can Amelia resist the attractive detective, despite the magnetic appeal he exudes? And what about these dead bodies turning up in Oak Grove Cemetery, what is the connection and who is the killer that has started up to his killing spree again after ten years? What is Devlin's daughter's ghost trying to tell Amelia? Lots of questions, a good mystery, and just enough creepiness to keep my attention to the very end. I loved this book, the setting and the plotline were great, especially on audio. The narrator, Khristine Hvam, did a fantastic job with the charming Southern accents as well. Reminds me a bit of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series with another Southern heroine who sees things others don't, particularly dark shadowy creatures. I'm definitely listening to the rest of the series!
  • (5/5)
    This book started off pretty good--and ended up fantastic. It was thrilling, spooky, unique, and even surprisingly sexy. I can't believe I let this sit on my shelf, unread, for so long. I loved the main character, Amelia. She was strong, smart, and believable all throughout the story. I couldn't have asked for a better protagonist. And this was a wonderfully fresh type of paranormal fiction. I greatly enjoyed reading this, especially the last half. I'm immediately going out for the sequel.
  • (4/5)
    Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick & Dirty: A story of a woman willing to break out of her comfort zone for all the right reasons but for the wrong man.Opening Sentence: I was nine when I saw my first ghost.The Review:I love starting a new series. It’s like getting a birthday present; the potential for something new and exciting is half the fun. I have to say that The Restorer by Amanda Stevens is quite the jewel. A good thriller/suspense full of ghosts and the forbidden. And a pull between two people that is almost incendiary.Amelia Grey can see ghosts. To protect herself, she has religiously followed her father’s rules on how to avoid the ghosts that follow her everywhere. As a graveyard restorer, she enjoys the tranquility of hallowed ground and the silent comfort of the gravestones around her. She also runs a blog on graveyards, called Digging Graves, where she is known by the nickname, The Graveyard Queen. Amelia ends up being caught in a murder investigation involving her assignment; a new restoration in Oak Grove Cemetery, which is part of the prestigious Emerson University. Her part in the whole thing would have been over rather quickly if the murderer hadn’t started leaving Amelia riddles on her blog that only she can solve.Amelia is curious and inquisitive by nature but has remained apart from society for most of her life. This has left her with a type of innocence when dealing with attraction and the opposite sex. Unfortunately, the man she wants is not the kind of man she can handle. Detective John Devlin is not only tall, dark and sexy but he also happens to be haunted by two ghosts. Devlin imbibes all the things her father warned her about, but is that enough for her to stay away from him? And really, what woman isn’t on some level attracted to the forbidden. But when Amelia is given the choice, to either stay away and stay safe or ignore the rules that have governed most of her life, will she take a chance? Will Amelia put her heart and her life on the line for a chance with Devlin?Even though John Devlin knows it’s a bad idea, he can’t seem to stay away from the beautiful Amelia Grey. He is the detective in charge of solving the murders that seem to revolve around Amelia. Even if he wanted to go beyond a professional relationship with her, he can’t. The guilt he carries around for the death of his wife and child is too consuming. All he knows for sure is that he cannot stay away from Amelia. Little does he know, Amelia knows all about his past: The ghosts of his wife and child refuse to leave her alone no matter how much she tries to ignore them. Can Devlin let go of the past before it consumes him, body and soul? Will the protective instincts he feels toward Amelia be enough to convince him to move on? Will the ghosts of his family let him go?Even though the story involves mystery and thriller-like qualities, it boils down to the relationship between Amelia and Devlin. Both of them are controlled by the ghosts around them. Both of them are questioning the status quo of their lives. And both of them must make the choice of breaking out of the familiar into the unknown. I hope to see Amelia and Devlin in a HEA but I think that it’s a little early yet. Both characters have issues that need to be addressed before they can truly be together. And now I really want to know if Devlin’s ghosts will find peace.Even though I usually don’t go for the ghost stories, I was both pleasantly surprised and delighted with this book. Amanda Stevens has definitely created a world that sucks you in and leaves you wanting more. Even after I have long finished the book, the light wisps of the characters still haunt me.Notable Scene:“Hands?”I shudder. “Dozens of them. Pale and grasping. I knew that if they managed to grab me, they would pull me down into some dark place far more terrifying than what awaited me at either end of the tunnel. So I would start walking gain. A few steps toward the light. Turn. A few steps toward the darkness.”“You never made it to the end?”“Never. I’d wake up with the most dreadful feeling of being lost and not having a clue where I was or where I was meant to be.”“Sounds like a near-death experience,” Devlin said. “Not that I believe in any of that stuff, but the way you described your dream is a lot like the way I’ve heard people talk about an NDE. Except for the hands,” he added. “That’s new.”“The hands were the scariest part.”He waved the flashlight over the walls. “See? No hands.”“Thanks.” I tripped over the corner of a loose brick and righted myself with a palm to his back. Quickly, I pulled away. “Have you ever had a recurring nightmare?”“Yes.” He paused. “And then I wake up and remember that it’s real.”The Graveyard Queen Series:0.5. The Abandoned1. The Restorer2. The Kingdom3. The ProphetFTC Advisory: Harlequin/Mira provided me with a copy of The Restorer. 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)
    Summary: Amelia Gray has always been aware of ghosts, and now she travels all over the South cleaning up forgotten or abandoned graveyards. When an enigmatic yet haunted police detective asks for her help to trap a serial killer, their growing attraction constitutes the very gravest of threats. Review: I had very high hopes when picking up this book. The description sounded right up my alley - a series of murders in an abandoned graveyard? Awesome! This plot sounded fresh and really interesting - tons of potential. The main line of the story is what kept me reading. It was something new and the twists were good - they had me guessing until the end. The main character, Amelia Gray, was a well done heroine. She had the normal struggles in life with the added problems that seeing ghosts brings to the table. Aside from the solid characters and strong story line, my love for this book stopped there. Of course there was some romance, as to be expected, but what could have been an intriguing relationship or at least the start of one, turned out to be overly predictable and boring. Parts of the story, mostly about the background of some of the characters and the stories surround Charleston's history really bogged the book down. There were good twists and secrets throughout the book, which I was hoping would be given answers at the end, but I was left hanging - and not in a good way. I see how leaving questions unanswered leaves an open ending for the next book, but these questions left me feeling frustrated instead of intrigued. I have already received the next two books in this series, and I'm hoping that they will rekindle my love for this Gothic romance.