Book: The Restorer
Author: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira Books
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Be sure to check out Amanda Steven’s world
Amanda Stevens nimbly weaves a silken trail of mystery and steamy Southern sensuality in her unique romantic suspense series The Restorer. Almost the first in her debut Graveyard Queen series (there is a prequel The Abandoned available as an ebook by Amazon), Amelia Gray graveyard restorer and reluctant medium, stumbles upon a decades old crime scene on a commissioned job restoring a pre-Civil War cemetery in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Her once tidy and safe life, now disrupted, by the supernatural tendrils that wind through Charleston society, and the desire for a man whose secrets and ghosts could eventually threaten her life, her heart, and her soul.
But the murders are just the tip of the iceberg, pointing to an even greater design that Stevens has in store for her readers. At the root of the murders lies a secret society, The Order of the Coffin and Claw that is reputed to dabble in the occult and ritual sacrifice. Throw in a heroine whose ancestry is a mystery, and powers that have not been fully explored, a detective who is haunted by the ghosts of his dead Gullah wife and child, and the murdered ghost of a cop and root witch who both hint of a shade, a dark prophet on the way and you have an exciting mix of Southern Gothic meets murder mystery meshed with paranormal romance.
Nearly every character that Stevens illuminates in her spider’s web has either a secret or an agenda, and each is connected within her sticky threads that will soon span over two more novels. And that makes for a truly unforgettable and insatiable read. The Restorer was full of scheming, seductive mystery, and a purposeful pacing that had vapors of steam billowing from the tresses of each page.
The deadlock that exists between Southern cop John Devlin and Amelia as they collaborate on the murders throbs at the core of Steven’s unique story and its presence gives The Restorer an almost eternally restless and hungry tone, especially when they interact. Whether they are combing the depths of the pre-Civil War tunnels beneath the varying hearts of Charleston, or picking through the broken effluvia of forgotten graveyards, Devlin and Amelia are haunted by one another, denying an almost primal attraction.
But the spectral obstacles placed before them could be their undoing.
Amelia has broken all the rules laid down by her father, and engaged in contact with the Otherside. Somehow, somewhere, she broke through the veil and now these entities recognize her. And the sanctuary of the graveyards, her solitary life, even her own desires are now at a cross-roads, intersected with that of Devlin’s. For Devlin whose ex-wife Mariama and daughter Anyika linger always, their spirits irrevocably found to his…can he let her go? Will Mariama let him go?
I find myself relentlessly enthralled by Devlin. Stevens has hinted at his paranormal roots with his involvement with the Charleston Institute of Parapsychology Studies, the medallion he wears (that indicates he was a Claw member), and his taking of a Gullah wife who was the daughter of a root witch ensures that his past is unmistakably steeped in magick, both dark and light. What spooked Mariama enough to drive her car through guard rail? What spectre has The Order of the Coffin and Claw unleashed? And how is Devlin involved?
I was positively addled with questions at the end of The Restorer, but that only whipped up an almost ravenous desire to read more. Steven’s does not allow Devlin and Amelia to culminate their relationship but their connection is inevitable. She has plans for these two and they are going to meet up again. The Abandoned is out in April, The Restorer is also out in April, followed by The Kingdom (Nov 2011), and lastly The Prophet (May 2012).
The Restorer has managed to place itself firmly at the top of my favorites list, being the most surprisingly unique and engrossing reads that I have read so far this year. Highly Recommended.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)