Book Review: The Restorer
By: Amanda Stevens (Read the first chapter!)
Published By: Mira
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Buy it at Amazon
Source: Received from Publisher via NetGalley
The Restorer is the first book in an exiting new series, The Graveyard Queen, by Amanda Stevens. Amelia Gray, the main character, has the ability to see ghosts and a career dedicated to restoring old cemeteries. I immediately was drawn to the novel from the summary and the cover. The first book is set in and around Charleston, South Carolina. I visited Charleston every summer of my childhood and loved seeing familiar locations throughout the novel. Stevens also does a great job of bringing to life the lowcountry and its superstitious traditions.
As a child Amelia learned early on that she could see ghosts as they walked the Earth. These restless spirits cross into the land of living as the veil of twilight drops. Amelia's father can also see them and warns his daughter to never look at them straight on or let on that she can see them. Ghosts attach themselves to the living and feed off their warmth and energy. Amelia's father teaches her rules that she must always follow to protect herself:
- Rule #1: Don't look at ghosts; never acknowledge the dead
- Rule #2: Never stray too far from hallowed ground
- Rule #3: Keep you distance from those who are haunted
- Rule #4: Never ever tempt fate
Amelia does her best to hold tightly to the rules her father set out for her so long ago, but she learns that it may not be that simple as she begins working in an old cemetery with a shady past located near a prestigious college. Amelia has been hired to restore the graveyard to its previous beauty, but she gets more from the job that she bargained for when a murder victim is uncovered after heavy rains dislodge the soil of a shallow grave. Amelia is thrust smack in the middle of a murder investigation. To make matters worse, she must work closely with the detective on the case, John Devlin, who is one of the haunted. How can she possibly help find the killer before he strikes again and avoid Devlin and his ghosts?
I am a sucker for a good ghost story and this one certainly delivers. The Restorer is like reading a good southern gothic mixed with a great mystery. It keeps you guessing until the very end. I honestly can say along the way I couldn't figure out who was behind the murders, but once I was finished I could immediately go back and find where Stevens had given me clues that I had decided were insignificant. This book is one that is best read with a light on; it gave me chills on more than one occasion.
I also loved this book because of the setting and characters. The odd tendencies of Charleston inhabitants and the Gullah traditions played significant roles in the plot. The conflict between Charleston's aristocratic families and those without pedigree was also spot on. Fans of southern literature will surely be pleased with this one. It made me crave a big glass of iced sweet tea and I could almost feel the summer heat. I am anxious to read the next book in this series. There are so many directions it could go. I also want Amelia's job. I am fascinated by history and old graveyards.
One Last Gripe: I really want to know what's up with Amelia's Dad - I hope we find out in the future novels
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Everything! I loved the characters, setting, plot, pacing, writing....
First Sentence: I was nine when I saw my first ghost.
Favorite Character: Amelia
Least Favorite Character: Dr. Shaw
My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.
It started with the discovery of a young woman's brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I've been hired to restore. The clues to the killer—and to his other victims—lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.