Tuesday, August 14, 2012

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "The Restorer" by Amanda Stevens

This is the first book in the Graveyard Queen series.  Amelia Gray can see ghosts. But ghosts are not innocuous, they suck your vitality and life-force away. Since the time she saw her first ghost at 9 years old, she has been living by four strict rules as dictated by her father:

Rule 1 - Never acknowledge the dead

Rule 2 - Never stray too far from hallowed ground
Rule 3 - Keep your distance from those who are haunted
Rule 4 - Never, ever tempt fate.

The rules are given to keep her safe, but it also makes her a guarded, introverted, lonely person. Until, there is a dead body found in the cemetery in which she is restoring that puts her into direct contact with Detective John Devlin. She is immediately drawn to him. Unfortunately, he is surrounded by two ghosts that cling to him. As she is pulled into the mystery of the dead body, Amelia keeps putting herself at risk by helping to pursue the killer and by breaking the rules to be with Devlin. 


Several years ago I visited Charleston, South Carolina in the middle of summer. The weather was hot, the humidity was oppressive and the pace, well, people took their time. I signed up for a graveyard ghost tour, not my normal vacation time activity. But it was Charleston, and being a Southern history fan, I couldn’t resist. This was the center of antebellum South, where the cruelty of slavery and the genteel manners of Southern folks co-existed. I loved my tour and I loved imagining the life and hardship of those who walked those streets before me. This book reminded me of my trip, both in the places described and the pace of the book.

Things I loved:
  • Cemetery restorer? Really, who knew there was such a profession? It is a combination of historian, detective,art historian, gardener and garbage collector. I thought context of the story was unique and compelling.
  • New words learned
  • Fan-wanking - Arranging a story to meet personal needs.
  • Taphophiles - A person who has a passion and enjoyment for cemeteries. (Again, who knew?)
  • Reminds me of ….Karen Moning’s Fever series. John Devlin has a bit of Jericho Z. Barrons in him. He has piercing eyes, brooding demeanor, is taciturn and oozes sexual tension.
  • Characters and setting - Charleston is a character in the book.  It adds a flavor of the South.  Charleston has an abundance of churches and graveyards which adds an eeriness to book. I thought it was the perfect setting. Stevens’ descriptions of the garden, the smell of flowers, quiet of the afternoon sun was very appealing. It made me want to drink some sweet tea and go sit out on my patio. (Unfortunately, I have no plants and am surrounded by the concrete jungle) . We also get a the peek into Creole culture, of witches and superstition. I hope this gets more flushed out in future books.
Like the Fever series, this books takes it time to tell the story. (I was more than 60% into the story and there was very little movement). Also, unfortunately, there is limited interaction between Amelia and John, which is why their “romance” less believable to me. I didn’t understand the source of their deep attraction. However, because of how this book is written, I believe this mystery will unravel itself out in the sequels and really, I can’t wait to start.

In A Nutshell:  

If you are interested in a paranormal mystery with a touch of romance in an eerie setting with a heroine in an unusual occupation, you gotta read this book. 

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