The Restorer

( 219 )


Never acknowledge the dead.
Never stray far from hallowed ground.
Never get close to the haunted.
ever tempt fate.

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 these rules passed down from my father…until now.

Detective John ...

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Never acknowledge the dead.
Never stray far from hallowed ground.
Never get close to the haunted.
ever tempt fate.

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 these rules passed down from my father…until now.

Detective John Devlin needs my help to find a killer, but he is haunted by ghosts who shadow his every move. 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 headstone symbols lead me closer to truth and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Stevens kicks off her Graveyard Queen paranormal romance series with this disappointing entry. Cemetery restorer Amelia Gray has seen ghosts since she was a child faithfully following her father's strict rules to ignore them and avoid those who are haunted. However, when a girl is brutally murdered and her body dumped in a cemetery that she's restoring, Amelia breaks her rules and becomes involved with sexy police detective John Devlin, a man haunted by the ghosts of his dead wife and child. As Amelia digs deeper into the girl's murder, she grows closer to Devlin, unearths a number of secrets, and makes herself the killer's next target. Stevens serves up a sultry tale full of lush descriptions of Charleston, S.C. and the surrounding countryside, as well as interesting tidbits about cemeteries and gravestones. Unfortunately, the weak, rather abrupt resolution to the mystery and lack of answers about ghosts–including Amelia's ability to see them–ultimately bury this creepy, atmospheric tale. (May)
From the Publisher
"This is paranormal romance done well."
-New York Journal of Books on The Restorer

"The beginning of Stevens' Graveyard Queen series left this reviewer breathless. The author smoothly establishes characters and forms the foundation of future story lines with an edgy and beautiful writing style. Her story is full of twists and turns, with delicious and surprising conclusions. Readers will want to force themselves to slow down and enjoy the book instead of speeding through to the end, and they'll anxiously await the next installment of this deceptively gritty series."
-RT Book Reviews on The Restorer, 4.5 stars "Top Pick"

"I love this book! Amanda Stevens' The Restorer gives the reader a fascinating character-who interacts with more fascinating characters! Ms. Stevens has managed the difficult feat of combining charm and chills." -New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author Heather Graham

"Stevens makes her MIRA debut with this taut, disturbing story. The characterizations are vivid, and it's got a lovely twist in the tail. Not for the squeamish!"

-RT Book Reviews on The Dollmaker

"Faced paced and plotted with spectacular precison and guile, this is undiluted suspense at its very finest. Nervous readers should read it in full daylight."
-RT Book Reviews on The Devil's Footprints

"Stevens' swiftly-moving, intricately plotted story has oodles of twists and chills-plus a jaw-dropping shocker of an ending. This is good stuff indeed."
-RT Book Reviews on The Whispering Room

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778329817
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 4/19/2011
  • Series: Graveyard Queen Series, #1
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 337,331
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Amanda Stevens lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and a black cat named Lola. She is an avid reader, a fledgling taphophile, and a collector of Alfred Hitchcock memorabilia. When she's not writing, she likes taking road trips through the South. You can find her online at

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Read an Excerpt

I was nine when I saw my first ghost.

My father and I were raking leaves in the cemetery where he'd worked for years as the caretaker. It was early autumn, not yet cool enough for a sweater, but on that particular afternoon there was a noticeable bite in the air as the sun dipped toward the horizon. A mild breeze carried the scent of wood smoke and pine needles, and as the wind picked up, a flock of black birds took flight from the treetops and glided like a storm cloud across the pale blue sky.

I put a hand to my eyes as I watched them. When my gaze finally dropped, I saw him in the distance. He stood beneath the drooping branches of a live oak, and the green-gold light that glimmered down through the Spanish moss cast a preternatural glow on the space around him. But he was in shadows, so much so that I wondered for a moment if he was only a mirage.

As the light faded, he became more defined, and I could even make out his features. He was old, even more ancient than my father, with white hair brushing the collar of his suit coat and eyes that seemed to burn with an inner flame.

My father was bent to his work and as the rake moved steadily over the graves, he said under his breath, "Don't look at him."

I turned in surprise. "You see him, too?"

"Yes, I see him. Now get back to work."

"But who is he—"

"I said don't look at him!"

His sharp tone stunned me. I could count on one hand the number of times he'd ever raised his voice to me. That he had done so now, without provocation, made me instantly tear up. The one thing I could never abide was my father's disapproval.


There was regret in his tone and what I would later come to understand as pity in his blue eyes.

"I'm sorry I spoke so harshly, but it's important that you do as I say. You mustn't look at him," he said in a softer tone. "Any of them."

"Is he a—"


Something cold touched my spine and it was all I could do to keep my gaze trained on the ground.

"Papa," I whispered. I had always called him this. I don't know why I'd latched on to such an old-fashioned moniker, but it suited him. He had always seemed very old to me, even though he was not yet fifty. For as long as I could remember, his face had been heavily lined and weathered, like the cracked mud of a dry creek bed, and his shoulders drooped from years of bending over the graves.

But despite his poor posture, there was great dignity in his bearing and much kindness in his eyes and in his smile. I loved him with every fiber of my nine-year-old being. He and Mama were my whole world. Or had been, until that moment.

I saw something shift in Papa's face and then his eyes slowly closed in resignation. He laid aside our rakes and placed his hand on my shoulder.

"Let's rest for a spell," he said.

We sat on the ground, our backs to the ghost, as we watched dusk creep in from the Lowcountry. I couldn't stop shivering, even though the waning light was still warm on my face.

"Who is he?" I finally whispered, unable to bear the quiet any longer.

"I don't know."

"Why can't I look at him?" It occurred to me then that I was more afraid of what Papa was about to tell me than I was of the ghost.

"You don't want him to know that you can see him."

"Why not?" When he didn't answer, I picked up a twig and poked it through a dead leaf, spinning it like a pinwheel between my fingers. "Why not, Papa?"

"Because what the dead want more than anything is to be a part of our world again. They're like parasites, drawn to our energy, feeding off our warmth. If they know you can see them, they'll cling to you like blight. You'll never be rid of them. And your life will never again be your own."

I don't know if I completely understood what he told me, but the notion of being haunted forever terrified me.

"Not everyone can see them," he said. "For those of us who can, there are certain precautions we must take in order to protect ourselves and those around us. The first and most important is this—never acknowledge the dead. Don't look at them, don't speak to them, don't let them sense your fear. Even when they touch you."

A chill shimmied over me. "They…touch you?"

"Sometimes they do."

"And you can feel it?"

He drew a breath. "Yes. You can feel it."

I threw away the stick, and pulled up my knees, wrapping my arms tightly around them. Somehow, even at my young age, I was able to remain calm on the outside, but my insides had gone numb with dread.

"The second thing you must remember is this," Papa said. "Never stray too far from hallowed ground."

"What's hallowed ground?"

"The old part of this cemetery is hallowed ground. There are other places, too, where you'll be safe. Natural places. After a while, instinct will lead you to them. You'll know where and when to seek them out."

I tried to digest this puzzling detail, but I really didn't understand the concept of hallowed ground, although I'd always known the old part of the cemetery was special.

Nestled against the side of a hill and protected by the outstretched arms of the live oaks, Rosehill was shady and beautiful, the most serene place I could imagine. It had been closed to the public for years, and sometimes as I wandered alone—and often lonely—through the lush fern beds and long curtains of silvery moss, I pretended the crumbling angels were wood nymphs and fairies and I their ruler, queen of my very own graveyard kingdom.

My father's voice brought me back to the real world. "Rule Number Three," he said. "Keep your distance from those who are haunted. If they seek you out, turn away from them, for they constitute a terrible threat and cannot be trusted."

"Are there any more rules?" I asked, because I didn't know what else I was supposed to say.

"Yes, but we'll talk about the rest later. It's getting late. We should probably head home before your mother starts to worry."

"Can she see them?"

"No. And you mustn't tell her that you can."

"Why not?"

"She doesn't believe in ghosts. She'd think you're imagining things. Or telling stories."

"I would never lie to Mama!"

"I know that. But this has to be our secret. When you're older, you'll understand. For now, just do your best to follow the rules and everything will be fine. Can you do that?"

"Yes, Papa." But even as I promised, it was all I could do to keep from glancing over my shoulder.

The breeze picked up and the chill inside me deepened. Somehow, I managed to keep from turning, but I knew the ghost had drifted closer. Papa knew it, too. I could feel the tension in him as he murmured, "No more talking. Just remember what I told you."

"I will, Papa."

The ghost's frigid breath feathered down the back of my neck and I started to tremble. I couldn't help myself.

"Cold?" my father asked in his normal voice. "Well, it's getting to be that time of year. Summer can't last forever."

I didn't say anything. I couldn't. The ghost's hands were in my hair. He lifted the golden strands, still warm from the sun, and let them sift through his fingers.

Papa got to his feet and pulled me up with him. The ghost skittered away for a moment, then floated back.

"We best be getting on home. Your mother's cooking up a mess of shrimp tonight." He picked up the rakes and hoisted them to his shoulder.

"And grits?" I asked, though my voice was hardly louder than a whisper.

"I expect so. Come on. Let's cut through the old cemetery. I want to show you the work I've done on some of the gravestones. I know how much you love the angels."

He took my hand and squeezed my fingers in reassurance as we set out across the cemetery, the ghost at our heels.

By the time we reached the old section, Papa had already pulled the key from his pocket. He turned the lock and the heavy iron gate swung silently inward on well-oiled hinges.

We stepped through into that dusky sanctuary and suddenly I wasn't afraid anymore. My newfound courage emboldened me. I pretended to trip and when I bent to tie my shoelaces, I glanced back at the gate. The ghost hovered just outside. It was obvious he was unable to enter, and I couldn't help but give a childish smirk.

When I straightened, Papa glared down at me. "Rule Number Four," he said sternly. "Never, ever tempt fate."

The childhood memory flitted away as the waitress approached with my first course—roasted green-tomato soup, which I'd been told was a house specialty—along with the pecan pie I planned to have for dessert. Six months ago, I'd moved from Columbia to Charleston, making it my home base, but I'd never had dinner at any of the upscale waterfront restaurants. My budget normally didn't allow for fine dining, but tonight was special.

As the waitress topped off my champagne, I caught her curious, sidelong glance, but I didn't let it bother me.

Just because I happened to be alone was no reason to deprive myself of a celebration.

Earlier, I'd taken a leisurely stroll along the Battery, pausing at the very tip of the peninsula to enjoy the sunset. Behind me, the whole city was bathed in crimson; before me, a fractured sky shifted into kaleidoscopic patterns of rose, lavender and gold. A Carolina sunset never failed to move me, but with the approaching twilight everything had turned gray. Mist drifted in from the sea and settled over the treetops like a silver canopy. As I watched the gauzy swirl from a table by the window, my elation faded.

Dusk is a dangerous time for people like me. An in-between time just as the seashore and the edge of a forest are in-between places. The Celts had a name for these landscapes—caol' ait. Thin places where the barrier between our world and the next is but a gossamer veil.

Turning from the window, I sipped champagne, determined not to let the encroaching spirit world spoil my celebration. After all, it wasn't every day an unexpected windfall came my way, and for barely lifting a finger.

My work usually consists of many hours of manual labor for modest pay. I'm a cemetery restorer. I travel all over the South, cleaning up forgotten and abandoned graveyards and repairing worn and broken headstones. It's painstaking, sometimes back-breaking work, and a huge cemetery can take years to restore fully, so there is no such thing as instant gratification in my profession. But I love what I do. We Southerners worship our ancestors, and I'm gratified that my efforts in some small way enable people of the present to more fully appreciate those who came before us.

In my spare time, I run a blog called Digging Graves, where taphophiles—lovers of cemeteries—and other like-minded folks can exchange photographs, restoration techniques and, yes, even the occasional ghost story. I'd started the blog as a hobby, but over the past few months, my readership had exploded.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 219 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 219 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 20, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    A very talented author. I enjoyed her story. This book was hard

    A very talented author. I enjoyed her story. This book was hard to put down.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Every picture tells a story...and you can judge this book by its cover!

    Creepily spooky, the first book in Amanda Stevens' new Graveyard Queen series starts out with a BOO! Actually it begins with cemetery restorer Amelia Gray confiding to the reader that she can see ghosts and has had the ability since childhood. However, since her father instructed her to never speak of her ability - and never speak to the ghosts, either - Amelia has long since buried it, instead busying herself with her blog Digging Graves and traveling around the South restoring old cemeteries. But some of the dead won't stay buried and so Amelia finds when a fresh body, a homicide victim, turns up in the historic Charleston cemetery she is currently working on. When Charleston police detective John Devlin approaches her with the bad news, Amelia can no longer ignore the fact that the dead don't always want their secrets buried with them. And the reader gets introduced to this possible romantic interest who seems as haunted as any graveyard Amelia's ever visited. History and mystery combine in this spooky proof of the truism that old secrets never long as there's someone to dig them up. P.S. Check out Amanda's website...she always has some creepily evocative video footage. The one she had up for The Devil's Footprints was verrry effective!

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2011

    Great Book

    Amanda Stevens writes a wonderful story that is a combination of ghost story, romance, mystery. I was hooked in the first chapter when Amelia sees her first ghost, and her father explains to her the rules of what she should do when she sees the ghost. I stayed up late in the night just to finish this book. Such an excellent read.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    Mysterious and I love the hidden chambers

    Amelia does not take the advice of her father before starting her job at Oak Grove Cemetery. During the resturation project Amelia finds a crime scene, hidden chambers, ghosts and a handsome man. You don't know who done it up until the very end. 288 pages.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I had a lot of fun reading this book. It flowed well and was cr

    I had a lot of fun reading this book. It flowed well and was creppy and fun at the same time, I have a hard time finding creepy boooks without boring me or grossing me out this was a good find. (The second in the series is even better.)

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguing New Ghost Series

    Summary: Amelia Gray has always been aware of ghosts, and now she travels all over the South cleaning up forgotten or abandoned graveyards. When an enigmatic yet haunted police detective asks for her help to trap a serial killer, their growing attraction constitutes the very gravest of threats.

    Review: I had very high hopes when picking up this book. The description sounded right up my alley - a series of murders in an abandoned graveyard? Awesome! This plot sounded fresh and really interesting - tons of potential. The main line of the story is what kept me reading. It was something new and the twists were good - they had me guessing until the end. The main character, Amelia Gray, was a well done heroine. She had the normal struggles in life with the added problems that seeing ghosts brings to the table. Aside from the solid characters and strong story line, my love for this book stopped there. Of course there was some romance, as to be expected, but what could have been an intriguing relationship or at least the start of one, turned out to be overly predictable and boring. Parts of the story, mostly about the background of some of the characters and the stories surround Charleston's history really bogged the book down. There were good twists and secrets throughout the book, which I was hoping would be given answers at the end, but I was left hanging - and not in a good way. I see how leaving questions unanswered leaves an open ending for the next book, but these questions left me feeling frustrated instead of intrigued. I have already received the next two books in this series, and I'm hoping that they will rekindle my love for this Gothic romance.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    Amazing Book!

    This is such a well written book. It is scary, disturbing, and rewarding at all the right times! I couldnt put this book down! It will not disappoint! :)

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2011

    Fantastic Read

    Most of us don't know it, but the dead roam around this earth just as we do. They are restless spirits, looking for warmth and solace in those who can see them. Yes, there are people who can. Some of them choose to embrace their gift. Some of them, however, must not give in to the temptation. Because once you allow yourself to embrace that gift, to give in to the dead, it opens up a whole new dimension - one that changes your life drastically. The ghosts will follow you until you give them what they want. Most just need closure to move on. Some of them are after your soul. For Amelia Grey, her Papa has always given her simple rules to follow. She saw her first ghost at a young age. Confused, she turns to her father for questions. And that's when he tells her his four rules. Because Papa can see them, too.

    Amelia has done well for herself up until now. The ghosts have always been around her. Having a job that deals with being at a cemetery, that'll do it. She's now helping in part of an ongoing investigation. The man that's on the case is both irresistible and haunted. Despite those rules hammered in her mind, she is drawn to John Devlin, and the ghosts that follow him.

    I can say with full honesty that while reading this, icy tentacles of fear and excitement ran up and down my body. My gut clenched and my heart pounded. The Restorer is one of the most eerie, haunting books I've read in a long time. Every creak of my house settling had me jumping. I left the lights on while reading. Yes, I even looked over my shoulder to make sure no one stood behind me.

    Ms. Stevens created such chilling suspense that I questioned the motives of each character. Secrets were unveiled and I wondered who had been hiding what. The vivid details weaved throughout the story had my imagination working in overdrive. I am fascinated by the paranormal and loved reading about a heroine who can see the dead. The imagery of ghosts energy fading off in the twilight, the gut-wrenching emotion Amelia, John Devlin, and others felt, I felt too. I am even getting chills again while writing this.

    I never would have guessed the ending of the book. The further the reader gets into the story, the more intense it gets. Ms. Stevens comes back in full force with The Restorer, and you won't want to miss it! If you love a haunting story full of ghosts, secrets, an extraordinary heroine, mystery and murder, then this book is for you. Though, you might want to read it during the day, when the ghosts are at bay.

    Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great urban fantasy whodunit

    Amelia Gray was nine years old when she saw her first ghost while raking leaves with her father at the cemetery he was caretaker of. Her dad told her to never look at them. She became a cemetery restorer, but though she could see ghosts, she adhered to her father's strict rules.

    Charleston PD Detective John Devlin accompanied by the ghosts of a woman and a little girl approaches Amelia. He is unaware that his late wife and daughter haunt him. The haunted looking Devlin explains Emerson College Dr. Camille Ashby sent him to see her. The cop wants to look at the photos she took last week at Oak Grove Cemetery where the corpse of a battered female was found. The headstone provides clues to the serial killer, but only Amelia can interpret them. However, she does not want to get involved as she knows if she does, she will break a rule and have to deal with the two female family ghosts siphoning his energy to remain anchored here.

    This is a great urban fantasy whodunit that makes ghosts feel real because of the heroine. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action that grips the reader from the moment Devlin accosts a reluctant Amelia and never slows until a ring is placed as a thank you. Sub-genre fans will appreciate the first dark yet somehow hopeful Graveyard Queen as everyone will affirm they believe in ghosts.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012


    I loved this book. It grabbed my attention immediately and held it throughout. I did not want to put it down. It made me think logically as I was trying to figure out who the killer was, but it also had my mind going into paranoia mode whenever I would see something move out of the corner of my eye. I love it when a book does that to me, but it is rare to find these days. I can't wait to get started on the next in the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012


    i cant belive how good this book was.Very dark and twisted at the end, I wouldn't recommend for people who get scared easily or for nightime reading. BUT STILL A FAVORITE!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2011

    Delicious Southern gothic mystery I couldn't put down!

    NEVER ACKNOWLEDGE THE DEAD. NEVER STRAY FROM HALLOWED GROUND. NEVER GET CLOSE TO THE HAUNTED. NEVER, EVER TEMPT FATE. My father's rules. I've never broken them.until now Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer. She also sees ghosts. Since she discovered her ability when she was nine, she's never broken her father's rules. The rules have kept her safe. But when the body of a murdered young woman is found in the graveyard she's restoring, the dangerously attractive Detective John Devlin comes looking for her for help. Unfortunately he's haunted and Amelia is attracted to him like no man she's ever known. As the bodies pile up, Amelia is drawn into the investigation and closer to the man she knows she should stay away from. Add a secret society, shadows in the night, a cyber-stalker and, of course, Devlin's ghosts and you have a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat from page one to The End. Amanda Stevens has an amazing talent for writing intriguing gothic mysteries set in the South-in this case Charleston. Her characters are full of quirks and eccentricities, charm and secrets. Amelia is the perpetual outsider who unravels just enough secrets to reveal a darker mystery that underlies the series. Devlin is reminiscent of the great tortured heroes of the classics-REBBECCA's Maxim de Winter, JANE EYRE's Rochester, and even the haunted Heathcliff-and, like them, the reader isn't sure if he's the hero or the villain. And neither is Amelia. I loved this book and had only one complaint-that it ended and I have to wait for the next in the series to get more!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent book!!!

    "I was nine when I saw my first ghost."

    It's rare that an opening line grabs me as this one did. In that one sentence, I was sucked in for the rest of the book. It's also not often that I love a book so much I want to shove it into the hands of the first (possibly unwilling) pair of hands I see and yell, "read this read this READ THIS!" The Passage by Justin Cronin was one of them, The Fever Series by Karen Moning another. It was that good. It kept me up at night, turning pages. I was distracted while helping a friend paint, because all I could think was "I want to get back to my book." In the end, it took me just over a full 24 hours to read it. I simply could not put it down. It has become a member of "The Measuring Stick Books" - books by which I measure all others:

    Friend: OMG have you read such-and-such by so-and-so?!
    Me: Is it as good as The Passage/Fever/The Restorer?
    Friend: Well...
    Me: Bottom of the TBR pile.

    It made me anxious for its characters, envious of the town's residents, intrigued by the secrecy, frightened by the apparitions and ultimately, wanting to know who the "bad guy" was. Each time I was sure I knew, I found out how incredibly wrong I was. That's how I judge a spectacular author: make me live your book and I'm going to love you, slobber at your feet and ache for your recognition. Stevens incorporated strong characters (both primary and secondary), smooth plot lines and twists so staggering, they made you dizzy. The first-person narrative ('cause you know how I love my first-person) was exceptionally well written, the plot was intriguing and it was entirely a heart-palpitating read. Stevens deftly wrapped together all these wonderful components of a novel and just delivered it to our feet with a big ol' bow. Merry Christmas! I don't care if it's April.
    I can't wait for the follow-up to this absolutely fantastic book. Amanda Stevens, you rock!


    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    Paranormal Mystery

    Interesting characters dropped into the Charleston setting, this first novel in the Graveyard Queen series sets up the premise of the archeologist cemetary restorer who has been able to see ghosts since her childhood, her growing attraction for the homicide detective who is haunted by the ghosts of his own past, and their efforts to solve the mystery of why bodies keep turning up in the graveyard at Emerson, a traditional southern college. Filled with intriguing trivia about graveyards, symbolism, epitaphs, and burials, this is a paranormal page turner with lots of twists, but the resolution is a bit rushed and formulaic while leaving multiple other plot strings unresolved. An interesting read for lovers of mystery and ghost stories in a southern setting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2013

    The Restorer is one of the best books I¿ve ever read. Since I av

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    a beautiful, dark, chilling mystery

    I love crime mysteries and when you wrap it in a little paranormal woo-woo I begin to drool. Amanda Stevens delivered a beautiful, dark, chilling mystery with a side of sexual tension. I quickly became swept up in this tale, the characters and the crime. The opening sentence “I was nine when I saw my first ghost.” grabbed me and the tale kept me enthralled. Ameila Gray is a cemetery restorer and has quickly built a reputation for herself. She also has a successful blog showcasing old cemeteries which has made her recognizable. Since she was nine she has been cursed with a gift she shares with her father. She can see ghosts and her father taught her rules that she must follow to keep herself safe. Rule number one, never acknowledge them. Until now she has always followed the rules. When a haunted, smexy, dark, brooding police detective asks for her assistance after discovering a dead body in the cemetery she is restoring everything changes. When the clues to solve the murder(s) involve symbols on the headstones she realizes she may be the only one who can help them catch a killer. I really connected with the protagonist Ameila. She is quite, refined, intelligent and confident in her profession. She also seems very lonely and guarded. I loved her profession and the fact that she blogs and enjoys it so much had me smiling. John Devlin is a police officer, a true southern gentleman and he oozed smexy. John has suffered from a horrific loss and it shows in his eyes and the lines on his devastatingly handsome face. He unnerves Amanda and she struggles with her attraction to John on so many levels. I adored the tango these two danced. Their tale is just beginning and I get goose bumps just thinking about it. I love the secondary characters and the southern door Stevens opens for us. I am really looking forward to learning more about all of them. Stevens is a breathtakingly gifted writer. She brought Charleston and its historical district to life. I could see, hear, taste and smell the world she immersed me in. Her attention to detail and the facts surround these old neglected cemeteries captivated me. The mystery itself was filled with twists, foreboding and an air of believability that had me chilled. The twist she put on ghosts and Amelia’s gift are completely original and the back-history on these entities was freaky-tastic! The flow of the novel was wonderful, and Steven’s descriptive writing style kept me reading late into the night. I am in love with this writer and must read more of this series. My favorite type of series are ones that can be read as standalones, but also have sub-plots, romances etc running through them. Where each book solves a case, shows character development and further advances these overall sub- plot. This appears to be the recipe Stevens is using. Eep! I have not been this excited since reading The Passage by Justin Cronin and if you know me at all, you are rushing to ordered this book! caffeinated book reviewer dot com

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2014

    The Restorer

    Just finished. Amanda Stevens keeps true to the plot (pardon the pun) from first page to last. I will the second in the series.

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    The Restorer is the first in Amanda Stevens' Graveyard Queen ser

    The Restorer is the first in Amanda Stevens' Graveyard Queen series of books that focuses on the heroine, Amelia, a traveling restorer of old graveyards who also has the gift (or curse) of being able to see ghosts. Her father, who shares this gift, has warned her from an early age not to acknowledge the ghosts (for her own good) and to stay away from anyone who is haunted. While on an assignment in Charleston, Amelia meets a police detective (who is in fact haunted by the ghosts of his past) who asks for her help finding a serial killer who has been burying his murder victims in old graves in the very cemetery she has been drafted to restore.

    The Restorer was a delightful, fast-paced read. A creepy paranormal murder mystery with a dash of history, a pinch of romance, and great descriptive writing immersed me in the story from the very first page. Amelia is a likeable and down-to-earth heroine, even if she does see ghosts, and her choice of occupation lends great historical value to the plot. The story twists and turns, leaving you guessing who the killer is until the very end.

    There were a few things left unresolved at the end of this book. Why is Amelia's soul "between two worlds"? What did her mother have to tell her about her father in the hospital? Why do Devlin's ghosts still haunt him? What is with the exchange of energy between he and Amelia when they are together? And what is with that strange "romance" scene? These and more still wait to be answered, hopefully within the next books in the series.

    I also would have liked to have more character development of Devlin. His character is so quiet and controlled most of the time that the reader mostly learns all they know about him from other people, leaving the reader with the question of is he truly good or could he be bad?

    If you're looking for a truly unique paranormal mystery (graveyards, ghosts, murders, and a secretive college fraternity) with a little bit of history (set in Charleston, SC) then give this book a try. I, for one, wasn't disappointed and am hoping the second one is just as interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Love this series.  Great writing!  I recommend highly!  

    Love this series.  Great writing!  I recommend highly!  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    Loved it!!

    Read it!!

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