The Restorer is the first in a series featuring Amelia Gray, a young woman who lives in Charleston and restores dilapidated old cemeteries. This might seem an odd profession for someone who can see ghosts, but given that she grew up in and around cemeteries with a father who worked as a cemetery caretaker, it seemed like a natural step to her.
In this first installment, a murder takes place in the cemetery where Amelia has been working, and Detective John Devlin asks for her help because of the extensive array of photographs she has taken in preparation for her restoration work there, which may contain valuable information. She agrees to help and finds herself very attracted to him, but soon realizes he is haunted by his own ghosts, and as the murder investigation progresses, it becomes clear that her involvement is pushing her into the web of the murderer's schemes.
I found the southern Gothic atmosphere to be compelling, with its old houses, dank and humid cemeteries and ancient gravestones with inscriptions that are clues to the murders. I also liked the parasitic nature of the ghosts, which was a refreshing and unusual twist that fit nicely into the eerie mood of the narrative. I did feel a certain amount of distance between myself and Amelia, though, who seemed to waffle between keeping herself apart from everyone and throwing herself into things, which made her actions not always believable to me. I was frustrated by the fact that she never really made an effort to look into the reasons her father gave her such dire warnings about ghosts, and so she repeatedly put herself into danger, but we never really know what the actual danger is, which diffused the tension for me as I read.
I did enjoy this one, though, and it certainly leaves a lot of room for further exploration. The mystery is wrapped up fairly satisfactorily, but there are plenty of loose ends that should make for some interesting reading in future books.
Books in The Graveyard Queen series:
1. The Restorer
2. The Kingdom
3. The Prophet
The Restorer (#1 in The Graveyard Queen series) by Amanda Stevens (Mira, 2011)
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My Need to Read: "Protagonist Amelia Gray is one complex individual; amiable as far as protagonists go, but clearly haunted (literally and figuratively). That she finds herself drawn to an equally haunted man will provide a lot of arresting emotional material in upcoming installments."
Scooper Speaks: "The entire time I read this book I felt like there should be eerie piano music playing...Instead of the music playing for a few seconds before exploding into action, it built and built until I almost couldn’t stand it."
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: "The Restorer is not for the faint of heart and speaking of hearts although a very good urban fantasy/ghost story, I was disappointed by the lack of romance in the book."