Unrelenting suspense that made for an unsettling read.
The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
MIRA, Harlequin | Paperback, 376 pages
You’re not going to pick up this book in the hopes that you’ll have a nice, relaxing read. No. What you’ll experience is Charleston as dark and bone-chilling as the myths and superstitions of New Orleans and a full appreciation in the art of restoring cemeteries. You shouldn’t be surprised as the main character is known as the Graveyard Queen. She spends her time in the company of the dead. But that’s not all that’s spooky about her. She also sees ghosts. Different sorts of ghosts.
The most chilling of them all is the persistent mother and daughter tandem who died together when their car plunged into their watery grave. The duo also haunts a detective who was handling the case of what proved to be a series of murders that Amelia would be right into the thick of. Her life, once governed by rules set by her father – calm, quiet and steady – instantly becomes a series of ghostly apparitions; being hunted by a dark being she wasn’t familiar with and ultimately, falling prey to a serial killer controlled by sinister ghost looking for a host.
The author has a great talent in setting up the ambiance. It didn’t matter where I was in the book or where the characters were: the creepy doesn’t leave whether you’re reading a scene in a mausoleum, a crypt, stranded somewhere in the highway with a flat tire or even when the characters were banally eating in a restaurant.
Reading about all different sorts of myths, legends and symbolisms of death was quite a treat. Who knew those engravings on ancient headstones had any meanings? Either the author was a restorer herself or she spent a lot of time in the dark recesses of libraries.
The character, Amelia, has quite the talent in schooling her emotions. Imagine being able to see the dead and pretending that you don’t see them? When their very presence were often accompanied by the usual cold air that chills your bones and enough current to make every strand of your hair stand on its ends? How do you hide the knowledge that you can see them? I, for one, would never leave the house.
The ghosts in this book are also parasitic by nature: they suck up all the warmth and life of their living hosts. Yes, hosts. Like some alien being attaching themselves to humans. And this is what’s so different and kick ass about this series. Also that it retained its dark characteristics and ambiance the whole entire novel.
The scant but hella steamy romance between Amelia and Devlin didn’t lack for spark and oh man. They sure know how to create tension. Devlin is an enigmatic, mysterious, interesting character. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of him here even if he was in the novel for the majority of the time. The author was very stingy with Devlin. I didn’t get to know him well. If this was a ploy to get me running and buying the next books, then, well played, Ms Stevens. Well played.
This was such an enjoyable mystery novel. There wasn’t any obvious suspects or foreshadowing as to who the killer was – a true testament to the author’s writing skills. Amanda Stevens is a new find author and I’m salivating to read the rest of this series.
My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
This was a read-along with Kara of Nocturnal Book Reviews and Christy of Love of Books.