by Amanda Stevens
Series: The Graveyard Queen #1
Publication Date: May 6, 2023
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal
Publisher: Mills and Boone
Never acknowledge the dead
Never stray far from hallowed ground
Never associate with those who are haunted
Never, ever tempt fate.
My father’s rules. I’ve never broken them…until now.
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 the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.
It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore. The clues to the killer—and to his other victims—lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. 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 symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.
Another LT rec, and a winner. This was some grade-A-ghost-story stuff, and in a passage or two, it toed the boundary with Horror (my definition of horror anyway). I really enjoyed the graveyard background information, and the facts involving the symbolism used on gravestones.
The plot of the mystery is a tad gruesome for my taste, although it’s not graphic at all until the end, as they get closer to identifying the murderer, and details start to emerge that I could have done without.
I thought the characters were well written and well developed and I really got engrossed in the story, and was sorry to see it end. Saying that, however, I’m not feeling confident about continuing with the series. Reading the synopsis’ and a handful of reviews for subsequent books makes me think that author is more interested in yanking her characters around emotionally than writing good, spooky mysteries. I’ll have to see how I feel as time goes on – will memories of this story draw me back in, or will they fade altogether.
NB: I rated this 4.5 stars just after I finished it; with a few days distance, I really want to nudge it back down to 4 stars and will probably do so, as I can no longer remember why I thought it was worth that extra .5 star.