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

9722219Title: The Restorer (Graveyard Queen #1)
Author: Amanda Stevens
Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Thriller, Mystery and Suspense
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4,5 Stars
Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon

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.

The Restorer is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Since I average 150 books a year, that’s saying something. I bought the first book in the series, was thoroughly impressed, and immediately went out to hunt for book two and three. This week I will review all three books, and give you my honest opinion about what I consider one of the best series ever. The only downside? I find it remarkably tough to write reviews about books I enjoyed immensely. Anyway, on we go.

Amelia Gray, main character, restores old graveyards, which instantly gives her one of the coolest professions ever. I’ve always been fascinated with ancient Victorian graveyards, and so is Amelia, which instantly made me bond with her. The second quirky thing about Amelia is that she sees ghosts. She’s seen them ever since she was a little kid. She tried to stay away from them and ignore them because her father told her to, but that doesn’t always work out. When the dead see you, they grow attached to you, they feed on your energy, and Amelia tries to avoid that. She spends most of her time on hallowed ground, such as graveyards, to avoid seeing the dead. If she’s not safe on hallowed ground come nightfall, things might get ugly.

Her ability to see the dead has made it difficult for Amelia to make friends and to date guys, so she’s a twenty-seven year old single woman who easily reminded me of “Bones” from the TV series. Intelligent, brave and actually a nice person, but someone who has trouble befriending people or dating people. I liked her personality, her attitude, her spark. She doesn’t see her ability as much of a gift, and to be honest, it isn’t really, at least not for her. It hinders her in everything she does or tries to do, sometimes even putting her on harm’s way. She’s the opposite of a superhero, her powers a true curse for her. I liked that. The tragic hero thing, a person who genuinely is hindered by her abilities, even though others might find them awesome.

At the beginning of the book, she’s working to restore Oak Grove Cemetery when a bound is recovered on the cemetery. This could be no news at all, if the body didn’t belong to a missing person and was quite recent. The detective on the case, John Devlin, is the kind of man Amelia could fall for. Southern charm, handsome, strong, intelligent, he’s practically every girl’s dream. But Devlin has his own ghosts to deal with, and Amelia has learned the hard way not to get close to people who are haunted by their past, sometimes quite literary. As a male lead, John Devlin doesn’t do that much though. I wanted to see more of him. The entire story is told from Amelia’s POV, which is great, but I would’ve liked a few more scenes with Devlin so I could have a better idea of his motives and what drives him.

When another body turns up at the cemetery and Amelia finds out the body the police found isn’t the first body to be discovered there, those are the first clues for one of the best mystery novels I’ve ever read. There’s an evil force at work in Oak Grove Cemetery, and Amelia may have to use her ability to communicate with ghosts if she wants to find the culprit before he finds her. Her safe harbor, the hallowed ground of cemeteries, suddenly isn’t so safe anymore.

The plot itself was pretty much kick-ass awesome all the way. The mystery was amazing, and I could barely keep up with the rapid pace, luckily interrupted with moments of self-reflection from the main character. Toward the end though, those moments started to annoy me. I was in the middle of the plot and boom, suddenly, Amelia started her self-reflection habits up again. Ugh. So not the moment. Luckily this was a small hindrance and not enough to make me dislike the book or something.

What I also liked is how this book mixes all sorts of genres. There’s romance, there’s a paranormal mystery, but there’s also a suspense novel, a thriller, and even a bit of horror here and there. I like books that break the genre boundaries, and in that aspect, The Restorer definitely succeeds.

I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading books with a paranormal element. Even if you’re not generally a fan of romance, the romance subplot is small enough here not to distract you from the main plot. If you dislike thrillers or suspense novels, the romance and ghosts may be enough to lure you in. And if you’re a fan of horror, then this book has something for you as well.

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