Friday, February 17, 2012

The Restorer (The Graveyard Queen) by Amanda Stevens


The blurb:
Never acknowledge the dead.
Never stray far from hallowed ground.
Never get close to the haunted.
Never, 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.
"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.
'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.'"
Review:
A mystery with paranormal undertones, The Restorer gives us a heroine with the ability to see and interact with ghosts. This ability seems to be hereditary as Amanda Gray shares it with her father.   As her father warns her early on, the ability is more curse than gift. So few people share it that once a ghost knows that he can be heard, he is inclined to stalk the human, to plead for her help to settle unresolved issues that the ghost left behind.

So, Amanda's father warns her early on to pretend not to see the ghost and to ignore any "supernatural" touches that she might feel.  Amanda's father teaches her to find hallowed ground that are sanctified and free of spirits.  For himself, he accepted employment as a cemetery caretaker in part to keep his family safe.    Amanda's career as a cemetery restorer is similar in some respects. She "travels all over the South, cleaning up forgotten and abandoned graveyards and repairing worn and broken headstones" and blogging on Digging Graves where those with related interests share photographs, restoration techniques and the occasional ghost story.

Amanda accepts a commission to restore Oak Grove Cemetery, the graveyard attached to Emerson University, an old Southern university. She has learned to disguise when she notices the undead.  So when Detective John Devlin of the Charleston PD approaches her with an introduction from socialite and university trustee Camille Ashby,  Amanda doesn't expect to discuss a recent corpse.  But the police tap into Amanda's knowledge of the cemetery and she finds herself a resource in a homicide investigation. 
Detective Devlin has his own issues and appears to be haunted by a beautiful woman and a young child.  Amanda is careful not to get too involved with Detective Devlin, but it's tough as she's more attracted to him than anyone she's ever met.  Plus, their work forces them together.

The Restorer is part detective mystery, part love story and part ghost story -- and a fully engrossing read.

ISBN-10: 0778314006 - Mass Market Paperback edition $7.99
Publisher: Mira; Reprint edition (February 21, 2012), 368 pages.
Review copy courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher.
About the Author:
Amanda Stevens lives in Houston with her husband, Steven, and a black cat named Lola. She is an avid reader, a wannabe taphophile, and a collector of all things Alfred Hitchcock. When she's not writing, she likes taking road trips to Austin. And to Marfa. And to old cemeteries.
Find out more about Amanda Stevens at:

http://www.amandastevens.com/
http://www.facebook.com/amandastevensbooks
http://twitter.com/AmandaStevensTX
http://amandastevens.com/blog/
CymLowell

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