Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

More than 5 Stars!

This book deserves way more than 5 stars!

The Restorer is right up there as one of the best books I’ve read this year. I don’t think I can even express how wonderful this storyline was or how unique and perfect the writing was. It wasn’t that the writing style itself was all that different, but the way Amanda Stevens was able to draw the readers so thoroughly and completely into the world where our heroine Amelia lives. The story takes place in Charleston, South Carolina and is told in first person perspective by Amelia Gray a cemetery restorer, who from the age of nine has been curse with the ability to see ghosts. This ability was only heightened by the fact that growing up she spent much of her time in the old gothic cemeteries around her home. Her father was a groundskeeper and shares Amelia’s abilities and has raised her with strict rules where ghosts are concerned.

Never acknowledge the dead
Never stray far from hallowed ground
Never associate with those who are haunted
Never, ever tempt fate

Amelia is about to let the rules that have governed her entire life fly out the window when John Devlin a police detective enters her life asking for her help in a gruesome murder case. Several bodies are being discovered, buried beneath the tombs of graves in an old and derelict graveyard where Amelia has been hired to restore the grounds. I won’t say much more about the plot because even if it wouldn’t give away spoilers I don’t think I could do the premise justice.

I was so very impressed with this story. It may come across in the beginning as just a simple ghost story/detective novel but it is so much more. I loved each and every one of these characters, even the creepy ones who always questioned. Amelia was a wonderful protagonist and I loved her smooth and engaging voice. Devlin is in a league all his own in my opinion. The guy is haunted, full of guilt, torn apart because of a past tragedy and from the beginning Amelia can sense his sorrow and see the life being drawn out of him bit by bit. She knows she has to stay away from him, but what happens when the one person you can see yourself identifying with after having lived your life so closed off from everyone around you, becomes the one person who could be a threat to the very thing that keeps you safe? This is Amelia’s very tricking predicament and it was fascinating and heartbreaking to see these two try to get close to one another and then ultimately come to realize all the reasons they cannot even be friends. I’m not giving too much away here – don’t worry – this is a series and there are two more books scheduled for release. (I am personally waiting very impatiently to find out what happens next)

The fluidity with which the book is written is what captures a reader so intensely. The writing is almost poetic. Melodic and gentle, the writing itself reminds a reader of the setting. The small Charleston setting is so real while you read, it’s amazing. You can feel the heat seeping into your bones, the smell of the jasmine and grass; almost see the wilting flowers in a garden. It’s amazing how many of my senses were targeted while reading which only made my enjoyment that much more.

The story itself is fascinating and had me guessing the whole way through. You think you know about Amelia and her curse/gift and yet by the end you realize that everything Amelia knew and everything you though you understood could be wrong. Amelia will have a fierce fight ahead of her and I can’t wait to see what happens in her life next. Especially where Devlin is concerned.

The mystery/ghost story aspect of the novel was superbly executed; a mix of history, some mythological legend and creeptastic imagery is what it’s all about. I was reading the final few chapters of the book in bed the other night during a storm and let me tell you I was scary myself pretty bad. It’s not that anything is told in graphic detail, but you almost get more scared because everything is described so gently in that same melodic way as the rest of the book. It all fits the setting so perfectly in my opinion.

Honestly, I’m probably going to start gushing even more than I already have been if I continue, so bottom line – this is more than a 5 star! This is a forever favourite and I wasn’t even expecting it. Such a treat and I am now addicted to The Graveyard Queen series. Cannot wait for the next, The Kingdom to be released.
PS – Love this cover and hope the second and third installments are such as hauntingly beautiful.

Just to clarify - Mira publishes romance books and this novel is labelled as a paranormal romance, but let me say that having read more romance books than I can count in almost every genre, this story is so much mroe than romance. Yes, there is a bit of romance, but the way it progresses is much more geared towards fiction. The stories backbone is the ghosts and the murders being solved and the relationships between all characters. Amelia, and the way she has always lived her life is turned on its head in this book and Stevens set ups several storylines in this first novel that could trickle into future books. So if you are weary of reading romance, have no fear - this book contains so much more and in my opinion should be labeled as fiction. Don't let the lable deter you! You'll be missing out on a great read :)


  1. Umm after a review like that how can I not read this book?? I just placed a hold on it at my local library who has the book on order right hopefully I'll get my hands on a copy before I go back to school in September!

  2. Wow, beautifully written, Yaseena! By the second paragraph, I was already dying to read this!!

    I'm a big romance fan myself and look for romance in title when I'm picking this up, so as long as there is some, I'll be happy!!

    Thanks for another great recommendation! :)

  3. But then another body is found in the same graveyard, and the two must work together to stop a murderer. There were some threads not tied up at the end, but I expected that given that this is just the first book in a projected series. I look forward to reading the next book in The Graveyard Queen series.