The Kingdom

The Kingdom

by Amanda Stevens

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The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town…

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I've been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I'm coming to think I have another purpose here.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I've discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778312772
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 03/27/2012
Series: The Graveyard Queen , #2
Edition description: Original
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Amanda Stevens is an award-winning author of over fifty novels. Born and raised in the rural south, she now resides in Houston, Texas.

Read an Excerpt

The breeze off the water carried a slight chill even though the sun had barely begun its western slide. It was still hours until twilight. Hours until the veil between our world and the next would thin, but already I could feel the ripple of goose bumps at the back of my neck, a sensation that almost always signaled an unnatural presence.

I resisted the temptation to glance over my shoulder. Years of living with ghosts had instilled in me an aberrant discipline. I knew better than to react to those greedy, grasping entities, so I leaned against the deck rail and stared intently into the greenish depths of the lake. But from my periphery, I tracked the other passengers on the ferry.

The intimate murmurs and soft laughter from the couple next to me aroused an unexpected melancholy, and I thought suddenly of John Devlin, the police detective I'd left behind in Charleston. This time of day, he would probably still be at work, and I conjured up an image of him hunched over a cluttered desk, reviewing autopsy reports and crime scene photos. Did I cross his mind now and then? Not that it mattered. He was a man haunted by his dead wife and daughter, and I was a woman who saw ghosts. For as long as he clung to his past—and his past clung to him—I could not be a part of his life.

So I wouldn't dwell on Devlin or that terrible door that my feelings for him had opened. In the months since I'd last seen him, my life had settled back into a normal routine. Normal for me, at least. I still saw ghosts, but those darker entities—the Others, my father called them—had drifted back into their murky underworld where I prayed they would remain. The memories, however, lingered. Memories of Devlin, memories of all those victims and of a haunted killer who had made me a target. I knew no matter how hard I fought them off, the nightmares would return the moment I closed my eyes.

For now, though, I wanted to savor my adventure. The start of a new commission filled me with excitement, and I looked forward to the prospect of uncovering the history of yet another graveyard, of immersing myself in the lives of those who had been laid to rest there. I always say that cemetery restoration is more than just clearing away trash and overgrowth. It's about restoration.

The back of my neck continued to prickle.

After a moment, I turned to casually glance back at the row of cars. My silver SUV was one of only five vehicles on the ferry. Another SUV belonged to the couple, a green minivan to a middle-aged woman absorbed in a battered paperback novel, and a faded red pickup truck to an elderly man sipping coffee from a foam cup. That left the vintage black sports car. The metallic jet paint drew my appreciative gaze. In the sunlight, the shimmer reminded me of snake scales, and an inexplicable shiver traced along my spine as I admired the serpentine lines. The windows were tinted, blocking my view of the interior, but I imagined the driver behind the wheel, impatiently drumming fingers as the ferry inched toward the other side. To Asher Falls. To Thorngate Cemetery, my ultimate destination.

Brushing my hand against the back of my neck, I turned again to the water, mentally rummaging through the tidbits I'd gleaned from my research. Located in the lush Blue Ridge foothills of South Carolina, Asher Falls had once been a thriving community, but in the mid-eighties, one of the town's most prominent citizens, Pell Asher, had struck an unsavory bargain. He'd sold acreage to the state to be used as a reservoir, and when the dam opened, the area flooded, including the main highway leading into Asher Falls. Already bypassed by a new freeway system, the town sank into oblivion. The only way in and out was by ferry or back roads, and the population soon withered. Asher Falls became just another statistic in a long line of dying rural communities.

I'd never set foot in the town, even to conduct a preliminary assessment of the cemetery. I'd been hired sight unseen by a real estate agent named Luna Kemper, who also happened to be the town librarian and the sole administrator of a generous donation made anonymously to the Daughters of our Valiant Heroes, a historical society/garden club for the beautification of Thorngate Cemetery. Luna's offer couldn't have come at a more perfect time. I needed a new project and a change of scenery, so here I stood.

As we approached the dock, the engines powered down and we came to a near standstill. The heavy shadows cast by towering trees at the shoreline deepened the water to black. At no point could I see the bottom, but for a moment, I could have sworn I saw something—someone—just below the surface. A pale face staring up at me….

My heart took a nosedive as I leaned over the railing, searching those blackish depths. People without my ability would have undoubtedly wondered if the play of light and shadow on the water had tricked them. Or worse, if they might have spotted a body being washed ashore in the ferry's wake. I thought instantly of a ghost and wondered who on board might be haunted by the golden-haired apparition floating underneath the water.

"I believe this is yours."

A man's voice pulled me back from the railing, and I turned reluctantly from the lake. I knew at once he belonged to the sports car. He and the vehicle had the same dark, sleek air. I thought him to be around my age—twenty-seven—with eyes the exact shade of a tidal marsh. He was tallish, though not so tall as Devlin, nor as thin. Years of being haunted had left the magnetic police detective hollow-eyed and gaunt while the stranger at my side appeared to be the picture of health—lean, sinewy and suntanned.

"I beg your pardon?"

He extended his hand, and I thought at first he meant to introduce himself, but instead he uncurled his fingers, and I saw my necklace coiled in his palm.

My hand went immediately to my throat. "Oh! The chain must have snapped." I plucked the necklace from his hand and examined the links. They were unbroken, the clasp still securely closed. "How strange," I murmured, unlatching the claw fastener and entwining the silver strand around my neck. "Where did you find it?"

"It was lying on the deck behind you." His gaze slid downward as the polished stone settled into the hollow of my throat.

Something cold gripped my heart. A warning?

"Thank you," I said stiffly. "I would have hated to lose it."

"It's an interesting piece." He appeared to study the amulet intently. "A good luck charm?"

"You might say that." Actually, the stone had come from the hallowed ground of a cemetery where my father had worked as caretaker when I was a child. Whether the talisman retained any of Rosehill's protective properties, I had no idea. I only knew that I felt stronger against the ghosts when I wore it.

I started to turn back to the water, but something in the stranger's eyes, a mysterious glint, held me for a moment longer.

"Are you okay?" he asked unexpectedly.

"Yes, I'm fine. Why do you ask?"

He nodded toward the side of the ferry. "You were leaning so far over the railing when I came up, and then I saw your necklace on the deck. I was afraid you might be contemplating jumping."

"Oh, that." I gave a negligible shrug. "I thought I saw something in the water. Probably just a shadow."

The glint in his eyes deepened. "I wouldn't be too sure. You'd be surprised at what lies beneath the surface of this lake. Some of it occasionally floats to the top."

"Such as?"

"Debris, mostly. Glass bottles, bits of old clothing. I even once saw a rocking chair drifting to shore."

"Where does it all come from?"

"Flooded houses." As he turned to stare out over the water, I studied his profile, drawn by the way the late afternoon sunlight burnished his dark hair. The coppery threads gave him an aura of warmth that seemed to be absent from the midnight-green of his eyes. "Before the dam was built, the lake was half the size it is now. A lot of property was destroyed when the water rose."

"But that was years ago. You mean the houses are still down there?" I tried to peer through the layers of algae and hydrilla, but I could see nothing. Not even the ghostly face I'd spotted earlier.

"Houses, cars…an old graveyard."

My gaze shot back to him. "A graveyard?"

"Thorngate Cemetery. Another casualty of the Asher greed."

"But I thought." Uneasiness crept over me. I was good at my job, but recovering an underwater cemetery wasn't exactly my area of expertise. "I've seen recent pictures of Thorngate. It looked high and dry to me."

"There are two Thorngates," he said. "And I assure you that one of them does rest at the bottom of this lake."

"How did that happen?"

"The original Thorngate was rarely used. It was all but forgotten. No one ever went out there. No one gave it a second thought…until the water came."

I stared at him in horror. "Are you telling me the bodies weren't moved before they expanded the lake?"

He shuddered. "Afterward, people started seeing things. Hearing things."

I fingered the talisman at my throat. "Like what?"

He hesitated, his gaze still on the water. "If you look for this basin on any South Carolina map, you'll find the Asher Reservoir. But around here, we call it Bell Lake."


"In the old days, coffins were equipped with a warning system—a chain attached to a bell on the grave in case of a premature burial. They say at night, when the mist rolls in, you can hear those bells." He glanced over the railing. "The dead down there don't want to be forgotten…ever again."

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The Kingdom 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 89 reviews.
SmittenWithReading More than 1 year ago
My Review: I just finished The Restorer and then moved right into this book, but still this book managed to surprise me. It took a completely unexpected turn away from Amelia's relationship with Devlin and into the mystery of Amelia's past. In fact, besides mentions, you don't see Devlin at all in this book. If there was a single thing that I could complain about here, it would be that fact. But besides that fact, this book was amazing. It was even more chilling, even more creepy than the first book. At the 52% mark of the book, I actually experienced a full-body shudder with the pure creepiness and evil in this book. OMG...I can't believe how much I loved that about the book. Have I mentioned how much I am NOT a horror girl, but this book is so good!! It's all so well done, you can't help but to love it at the same time you worry about the faces you will see in the window that night. LOL! In this book, Amelia has moved to a new cemetery restoration out of Charleston. Immediately upon entering the town, Amelia feels the draw to it and the fact that there is something different about this town and her reaction to it. I slowly started figuring out where the story was going, but each time, it was only a few pages before the shocker was revealed. This is definitely a book that keeps you guessing and turning the page simply to find out what in the world is going on. So good. There is also a new love interest, but like Amelia's relationship with Devlin, there are roadblocks with of the most serious being that Amelia is not ready to give up on Devlin. This was an intriguing aspect to the story and I really like the way this ended. I am sitting on pins and needles for book #3...I NEED IT NOW! There is a whole new cast of characters to this story and a whole new set of mysteries. I highly recommend this series. It's simply riveting reading. There are tiny elements of romance, but overall these books are about the suspense and horror that comes from Amelia's other senses. They are creepy and fun and just entertaining reading.
vickytren More than 1 year ago
A very talented author. I enjoyed the story. loved the characters and the ending
Tanya2011 More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the Graveyard series. The main character restores graveyards and also sees ghosts which makes for an interesting read. This book delved more into the personal side of the main character. I will be picking up book three as it came out yesterday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the first book in the Graveyard Queen series was one of the best books I'd read, and that it would be very hard to beat. Well... this one sprinted past my expectations and topped the first one. I love the characters. I got attached to Angus and seriously worried for his safety as if he was part of my own four-legged family. I felt Tilly's heartbreak. You get the point...relatable characters and a well-developed, well-written story line. I hated putting the book down, and can't wait to start the next. Amanda Stevens, please keep the Graveyard Queen stories coming!
zuzabel58 More than 1 year ago
After reading The Restorer and not being able to put it down I was a little leery of its sequel, but it turned out I could not put this book down either! Here Amelia has separated herself from Devlin, and the place that has drawn her is the place that will begin unlocking her secret past. With an eerie underwater cemetery, witches, ghosts, a creepy cemetery, an eerie young lady and another man who is dark and dangerous to attract Amelia's attention this sequel has enough southern gothic charm going for it as the first book did! I have a waiting line of ladies ages 20-73 on the "I have to read this" list and the ones who have read it can't wait for the third book- The Prophet! Great beach reading, or great reading anytime- except maybe while home alone in the dark! Couldnt put it down!
bookofsecrets More than 1 year ago
Last year THE RESTORER was one of my favorite books, and I've been waiting on pins and needles for the sequel to be released. I couldn't wait to find out where Amanda Stevens would take her Graveyard Queen next. After finishing THE KINGDOM, my initial thought is WOW! I may have liked the second book a smidge more that the first. Where THE RESTORER was more paranormal mystery/romantic suspense, THE KINGDOM is the perfect blend of mystery and eerie Southern Gothic fiction. If you're not familiar with the series, I'll briefly tell you about Amelia Gray. She's known as "The Graveyard Queen" because her life's passion is restoring old, dilapidated cemeteries. But what really makes her unique is her ability to see ghosts. Her adoptive father also has this gift (or curse, as the case may be), and he gave her strict rules for dealing with restless spirits. His most important rule was to IGNORE them, a rule Amelia broke in the first book, and it got her in a heap of trouble. In THE KINGDOM, Amelia is hired to restore a cemetery in the remote town of Asher Falls, hidden in the mountains of South Carolina. Immediately upon her arrival, Amelia knows there is something peculiar about Asher Falls. Much of the town has been deserted, and there's something "off" about the ones who remained. Amelia can sense an evil presence there, yet something compels her to stay in this majestic yet wicked place. Somehow she's connected to Asher Falls, and she's determined to find out how. The secrets and mysteries in this town run deep, and there are certain residents that want Amelia silenced before she discovers the truth. I would love to talk more about the plot and supporting cast, but I don't want to spoil this fantastic story for anyone! I highly recommend that you read the series in order, because you'll definitely want to know Amelia's history with John Devlin. Though he doesn't make an appearance in THE KINGDOM, Amelia mentions him a lot. Hopefully we'll get more of John in the third book. THE KINGDOM is the type of story that grabs your attention and doesn't let go. The plot was fast-paced with many surprising twists and turns along the way. Amanda Stevens has a talent for making the reader a part of her story. I loved the vivid imagery of the mountains surrounding Asher Falls. I could hear the ghostly chimes over Bell Lake myself. Chilling! Fans of creepy ghost stories and Southern Gothics shouldn't miss this series.
butterflly13 More than 1 year ago
I am hooked on this series, I can not wait for the third book. This one was creepier than the first but no less fun to read. If you tried the first one do get this one:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent. Really scary ghost story. Lots of surprises. Just the thing for a rainy, late night read. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series has an interesting twist on the typical supernatural romance genre. A bit of "The Ghost Whisperer", murder mystery, and romance mixed together. It is scarier than the run-of-the -mill but with less sex. How the heroine manages in the every day world is not really clear with her special talents. As someone who has read A LOT of mysteries and romances my complaints are the constant use of the words "chills up my spine", 'tingles at the base of my spine", chills on my neck".. I want to send the author a thesarus. I get tired of torn between 2 lovers theme too. And finally, as a resident of the SOutheast - get the freakin' plant life right!
snowmuffin More than 1 year ago
This is another of "The Graveyard Queen" books. I enjoy the plots and the characters. If you decide to read the series start with "The Restorer". Can't go wrong with this set. ENJOY!!!
mjmutch More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this series. i got the first book free from a Nook free Friday and ended up buying and reading all three. Great characters, great writing. I was totally caught up in the world she created.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Creepy good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written interesting characters and story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic series. Must read! I only hope there are more to come! Bring back the Graveyard Queen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read....admittedly gave me nightmares when I slept but I continued reading it anyway. If you are a lover of mystery and ghost stories, this is the book for you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read. Can't wait for the next one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like ghost stories you must read this. Even better than the 1st book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another fine book from Amanda Stevens. I stumbled on her Graveyard Queen series by accident and was instantly hooked by her clever characters and skillful storytelling. Will read the rest of the series and explore her others!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this series when the first book was offered on the Barne's and Noble ebook feature of the day. After reading that book, I was hooked, and bought the other three ! A wonderful blend of mystery, romance, and the supernatural. Hope to see more books written and published in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amanda Stevens series is a fast read. There are three and all of them kept my attention. Have a rule that if after 50 pages a book doesn't grab it will be a waste of time. All 3 books are fast paced.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these books keep writing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago