Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Shush…lest she awaken…”
Amelia Grey, a professional cemetery restorer know as The Graveyard Queen, has been awarded the bid to restore the Woodbine Cemetery. Woodbine has long been considered the final resting place for the mistakes and indiscretions of the elite and wealthy Charleston families. When Amelia encounters an elaborate child’s gravestone that is nameless, she is accosted by an angry ghost whom she believes is the child buried there and who is looking to Amelia for justice. Amelia’s investigation leads her through a web of lies and deceit that takes her all the way to the front door of her ex-lover, John Devlin.
John Devlin’s family has been a part of the Charleston elite for as long as anyone can remember. Devlin had previously ignored his family’s legacy, choosing to go his own path, but circumstances have led him back into the fold and out of Amelia’s life. Can Amelia trust the man she once gave her body, heart, and soul to? Or will the family that Devlin swore he never wanted a part of put them on opposite sides of the battlefield?
The Awakening is the sixth and final installment in Amanda Stevens’s Graveyard Queen series. Steven’s has assured readers on her blog that this isn’t goodbye and she has ideas for a spin-off that will allow us to revisit this world and hopefully bump into Amelia again. I myself am going to miss this series with its dark southern gothic feel, suspenseful mysteries, and spine-tingling supernatural elements. Stevens’s compelling voice wraps a spell around the reader as she guides us back into her world of malevolent spirits and age-old superstitions with vibrant descriptions and rich prose. Outstanding characterization, intriguing narrative, and a smooth delivery add to the appeal of a reluctant heroine and the path she has unwillingly being drawn down.
“I wouldn’t wish my life on anyone.”
In the 5th book, The Sinner, Amelia Gray accepted a restoration job out of Charleston which put her in the direct path of two groups who seek to do her harm. An old murder mystery sheds light on the many secrets Amelia’s and Devlin’s family have held tight to for too long and forces a reckoning a long time in coming. Barely surviving being murdered herself, Amelia is now back in Charleston to stay though she is having a hard time letting go of Devlin and her memories of their time together. Especially when she feels him all the time-whether he’s physically there or not.
“There’s still a connection […] So strong that at times I can feel your presence before you enter a room. I hear your voice in my ear when I know you’re miles away.”
Interestingly enough, Amelia’s knowledge has expanded considerably though her world itself has contracted. Everything that has happened since the beginning has led back to her’s and Devlin’s families. The various loose ties and threads we have been combing through all make sense now and the picture they have been trying to form is becoming visible. Amelia has steadily gained strength and hope throughout this series, learning more about her family’s heritage and it’s bloody history. Previous events are alluded to with viable explanations, letting us know that Stevens hasn’t lost her way through Amelia’s life.
“I’d grown up with so many secrets, apparently in all branches of my family…”
The main conflict is an emotional complexity with a strong shroud of secrecy and shame. Though centralized in manner and deed, there are long reaching implications that affect a variety of people. Effectively scary and chill-inducing as Stevens’ no doubt intended, there is a vein of sorrow that grows stronger as Amelia digs deeper into her investigation and begins to unbury all the facts.
“She wants my attention. And like all the others, she needs my help.”
“Will you help her?”
“Do I ever have a choice?”
The relationship between Amelia and Devlin has been a huge point of interest in the series; having both thrilled and exasperated fans since the beginning. The push and pull of the romance, coupled with intense chemistry and multiple secrets, has kept readers riding the edge with Stevens’ continuing to play her hand close to the vest. Amelia’s love for Devlin had driven her to the point where she ignored her own safety. I was happy to see that her cavalier attitude is gone. His leaving her and fast engagement to another woman was a blow that shook Amelia far deeper than suspected. Devlin is a steady influence in this installment. We finally get his POV which is something I have really been waiting for in this series. Amelia’s self esteem has always been a bit low, especially where Devlin concerned, and I was ready to hear something that contradicted her dark thoughts.
“Since that first night in the Battery, there’s never been anyone but you. I can’t imagine where there ever would be.”
A steady influx of new and old faces mix and mingle, some as allies others as enemies, as Amelia unknowingly prepares for her final battle. They maintain the same intense and reticent nature; adding the intrigue and horror of the story. Stevens firmly wraps up the mystery and a large part of the overreaching arc with a large dose of excitement and suspense. I did feel Stevens’ rushed the ending and choose to take an easy way out when it came to Amelia and Devlin. I wish it could have been more of a choice on Devlin’s part then a happy coincidence.
I will repeat that I am sorry to see this series end and I hope *crosses fingers and toes* that Stevens’ does choose to spin off in the future. Once again, I can’t recommend this series enough. Fans of southern gothic horror stories that speak of the darkness that exists in the shadows between the living and dead should pick up Amanda Stevens’ The Graveyard Queen series ASAP.