The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: 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.
My Thoughts: The Restorer is the first in a series from Amanda Stevens called The Graveyard Queen. This was the first I'd read one of Stevens' books, and I have to say, I'm hooked. A great combination of ghost story and mystery, with a hint of romance and a dash of southern charm, I thoroughly enjoyed this read and am going to be anxiously counting down to the next release.
The story itself is strong for almost the entire book. Amelia has lived her life by her father's rules, as they keep her "safe" from the world of ghosts. Walking a thin line, she's carved a niche for herself with a career as a cemetery restorer, yet is somewhat lonely. When bodies start turning up in a cemetery she is restoring, she's thrown together with a darkly handsome and intriguing police detective - James Devlin. Dangerous to her in ways she doesn't understand, yet drawn to him in the same way, Amelia is trying to deal with the issues surrounding Devlin (play on name here (devil) or is that just me), and being the next possible target of a murderer.
It's a great story...lots of fabulous descriptions that have you shivering (especially if you hate spiders like me), an intriguing look into an area most are unfamiliar with, good characters and in general, a good mystery. There were a few things that detracted a bit for me. The ending is a big one...it was wrapped up all way to quick. This was one that the book had been so well set up that I didn't feel it was running long at all...but then everything just sort of came together and fairly out of the blue. I felt like there were a few loose ends as well with some characters, but those might have been on purpose as we will find out perhaps in later books. I also felt like there are still a few too many mysteries surrounding Amelia's parents and family. It appears clear that this is going to be a focus later, but in this book, just a bit more would have been good. Also, the romance part is not overly strong here...the unrequited attraction became a bit much for example, but that didn't really detract from the story overall. that's more of a warning for those who will go in expecting a true romance and HEA...let's just say that this is definitely set up as the first in a series and the reader is left with a lot to look forward to in later books.
I'm not usually one to make comparisons, but I think that if you are a fan of the Deanna Raybourn books, you'll like The Restorer. Similar sort of dark, ghostly mystery theme (although very different overall) with an underlying romance that is by no means the focus of the story. Stevens has set up a great series with The Restorer and I'm looking forward to The Kingdom in November.
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