Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Graveyard Queen Series

I discovered the Graveyard Queen series back in 2013 and the combination of ghost story and urban fantasy really won me over. I also became really interested in what real graveyard restorers do. The author has done a lot of research herself on the subject and she has a whole section of her website dedicated to photos of cemeteries and gravestone meanings and symbols which I think is totally cool. If you're interested you should check it out. http://amandastevens.com/books/the-graveyard-queen-series/cemetery-gallery/

Here are my reviews for the series:



 The Restorer (Graveyard Queen #1)The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy



Amelia Gray is an archaeologist who works as a graveyard restorer and she can see ghosts. It started when she was 9 years old. Her father also sees them and he gave Amelia a few rules to live by, because the ghosts can latch onto you forever if you acknowledge them, and that can be dangerous. Now 27, Amelia has always followed these rules, until she meets John Devlin, a cop who asks her to assist him on a murder investigation, and whom Amelia is very drawn to.

I really liked The Restorer. It was a little bit creepy with a likable protagonist, and Charleston South Carolina made a wonderful setting for the story. I really enjoyed the cultural aspects of the book that made me really feel like I was there. There are many aspects of Charleston, the low country and the Gullah people that remind me a lot of New Orleans and the Creole people in my native Louisiana.

While the killer was pretty easy to spot, the mystery surrounding Devlin and his ghosts was the part of the story that really kept me reading. After finishing this there are still things that remain a mystery that I'm sure will eventually be revealed in other books in the series.

I think the only negatives would be that weird scene at Devlin's house. You'll know the one I'm talking about if you read the book. The whole scene wasn't weird, but parts of it were. Like Devlin not asking her why she was in his house and just saying he knew she would come. They didn't behave like people would really behave. Also we never find out why he was visiting the psychic or who the woman was that Amelia heard with Devlin when she was talking to him on the phone, two minor things, but I just really wanted to know.




The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen, #2)The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy



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

The Kingdom starts not long after The Restorer ended with Amelia Gray off to restore another grave yard. She takes this particular job not only because she needs the money, but also because she thinks getting away from Charleston for a while will help her to get past the things that happened there, and help her get over John Devlin. She's in for a surprise, because this creepy little town has a lot of ghosts and one unmarked grave that she is inexplicably drawn to.

If The Restorer was a little bit creepy, The Kingdom amps up the creepiness as the supernatural element of the series rears its ugly head. Pretty much all the mystery surrounding Amelia's past and her parents is solved in this book. At first I wasn't crazy about leaving Charleston behind, but as I continued to read I felt it was necessary to the series so that Amelia could dig up her roots.

We are introduced to a host of new characters, most of them just for this book and I liked some of them. Tilly, Thane, and Sidra were all nice additions and I wouldn't mind meeting them again in later bo0ks. I also love the addition of Angus the dog to the series. I did feel like the parts with Amelia and Thane were just kind of meh, definitely a rebound relationship. We got a romantic scene that was almost just like the one in the last book, and it ended almost the exact same way too. This author seems to love writing weird, supernatural, incomplete love scenes, but I could do without them. I would say that is probably the only downside of the book to me.

So far this series has been very compelling to read, so much so that I'm starting the third book right away.




The Prophet (Graveyard Queen #3)The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy



In The Prophet, Amelia is back in Charleston and supposedly trying to avoid Devlin. But it isn't long before she accidentally runs into him, sort of. Then she decides she wants to see him late one night, but chickens out and ends up hiding in the bushes at the last minute spying and eavesdropping on him, acting very much like a stalker. Why couldn't she simply call him up and ask him to come over? She ends up hiding and spying on quite a few people in this book. Despite this childish behavior I still liked the book. The creepy ghost aspect of it was once again very good.

All of the mystery surrounding John Devlin and his ghosts were solved in this book. I did think the romance aspect of the story was just ok. It wasn't the strongest part of the book, simply because I thought Amelia just didn't know Devlin enough to be so crazy in love with him.

In the end we are left wondering what the consequences could be for some of Amelia's actions concerning the afterlife. Did she bring something back with her? Will this somehow change her? This could have ended as a trilogy, but the author is writing a fourth book, which I don't think is a bad thing. This series has been a fun escape, so I will definitely read it.




The Visitor (Graveyard Queen, #4)The Visitor by Amanda Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy



I've wanted to read this book for a while and the month of October was the perfect time to get back to the Graveyard Queen series. Lots and lots of ghosts and creepiness make for great Halloween reading. And I must say, this edition to the series is the creepiest yet. I felt like the first three books in this series were a bit shaky at times, but this one was definitely an improvement and the best book in the series so far. The author has come into her own here with the story telling. With this book being so good, this series is fast becoming one of my favorite paranormal/urban fantasy series. I like the uniqueness of this series as an urban fantasy that does not include the typical creatures that normally inhabit those. No werewolves or vampires or shape shifters or witches or wizards or fairies here, just ghosts and demons.

The Visitor starts off not long after The Prophet ends. Amelia is plagued by a ghost while both awake and in her dreams. She also starts seeing another being that doesn't seem to be either ghost or human. After her upstairs neighbor starts cleaning out the creepy cellar in the house they are renting, more odd things begin to happen, one being the discovery of a stereograph card in the cellar that includes an image of the woman whose ghost has been haunting Amelia.

I continue to like Amelia. There was some growth for her character in this book as she discovered yet more about herself and her ancestry. I'm looking forward to seeing how this is all going to play out in subsequent books. She most certainly has a quest now that is going to take several books to complete. Also, Amelia and John Devlin are now in a relationship, sort of. Just when I thought I knew all of Devlin's secrets, there seem to be even more. My feelings about Devlin have been very hot and cold throughout the books. They were mostly cold this time around.

One disappointment for me was that the dog, Angus that Amelia adopted was barely in the book, as he is now staying at her parent's house for an indefinite period of time. I hope that doesn't mean he's being written out of the series. I liked his addition in the two previous books and hope at some point the author brings him back. I also missed her mother and aunt as they were absent from this book. Those are really the only two small complaints I have.

I enjoyed this one so much I'm going straight into the next book.




The Sinner (Graveyard Queen, #5)The Sinner by Amanda Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy



I am a living ghost, a wanderer in search of my purpose and place…

The Sinner takes place a whole year after the previous book in the series. At first I thought the time jump would bother me, but I actually didn't mind it at all. It gave Amelia enough time to possibly move on from John Devlin. Whether she does or not, I won't spoil here (as usual, any spoilers will be under spoiler tags), but I will say that I was very much in favor of a new relationship, and I thought Lucian Kendrick was a good prospect. There were some twists in this one that were pretty good. I can't say I was completely surprised, because I always thought it was a possibility that it could go that way, and there were a couple of clues that it would.

Overall this book wasn't as creepy as the last one. It relied more on humans with abilities than ghosts for suspense. John Devlin makes a couple of very brief appearances in this book, but we are left wondering what he's up to throughout most of it. Some of it isn't that hard to figure out and we do get some answers. We are however, still left to ponder some of his motivations.

Oh, and Angus is back. That made me really happy. This book left me wanting to read the next book in the series right away. Unfortunately I have to wait until it's released at the end of March.




The Awakening (Graveyard Queen #6)The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy



My name is Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who lives with the dead.

The Awakening is the last book in the Graveyard Queen series. Two books ago after I finished The Visitor I thought for sure this would be a series that would need several more books to wrap everything up, and I was fine with that, but the author managed to do it in just two books which kind of surprised me. I was expecting the whole plot with the Conge and Amelia's powers to be a longer and more drawn out thing. However, I do think this is a fitting ending to the series, even if I do feel like some things were too quickly and neatly wrapped up.

Shush…lest she awaken…

In this book Amelia is hired by an anonymous donor to restore Woodbine Cemetery. Woodbine has a history of being the place where rich and powerful people bury loved ones they would rather be forgotten. Amelia comes across the grave of a child with the disturbing inscription "Shush…lest she awaken…" on it, and soon the ghost of a child is haunting her, but this child is older than the one in the grave. Amelia eventually sets out to figure out how the two children are linked and in the process uncovers more than one secret.

John Devlin is back in this book and his secrets are finally uncovered as well. This is one part of the story that I felt was wrapped up a bit too neatly, especially considering what Amelia went through in the two previous books. I wasn't a fan of John for a while, but somehow by the end of this I liked him again. I do wish that the author wouldn't have romanticized him so much with the way he is written. He never felt quite real enough to me because of it. I had conflicting emotions about his character throughout the series more so than I think I've ever had about a love interest in any other book, but this wasn't always necessarily a bad thing as it did keep me guessing about him.

I love a good creepy book and this book was incredibly creepy at times. The scene in the middle of the night at Amelia's house with the thing trying to get in was probably the best one, and I made the mistake of reading that part while I was alone in the dark! I will miss this series and I'm sad to see it end. I'm hoping this author writes another creepy book series for me to read.



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