Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “His voice was the kind that made you think of dark places. The kind that made the skin ripple along the backbone.”
1. Never acknowledge the dead.
2. Never stray to far from hallowed ground.
3. Keep your distance from those that are haunted.
4. Never, ever tempt fate.
These are the rules that Amelia Gray has lived by all her life. Passed down to her by her father, they have assured Amelia of a lonely life shut off from people due to her amazing terrifying gift. All that changes when John Devlin enters her life. A police detective with the Charleston police force, Devlin contacts Amelia for her expertise when bodies are found in a cemetery she is restoring. Amelia sees that Devlin is one of the “haunted” that her father warned her about yet she cannot turn him away. A connection exists between them that strengthens with each encounter; even as the ghosts of his dead try to push Amelia away.
Amelia soon finds herself drawn deeper into the spiritual world she has tried so hard to avoid. As she and Devlin work hard to find the killer, the door between the living and the dead begins to open. Amelia knows should it ever open completely, her life will never be the same again.
The Restorer is a ghost story from days past; when a ghost story wasn’t about blood and gore but more insidious. A gothic mixture of hope and dread. A story where what you feel is far scarier then what you see. Ms. Stevens has a distinct poetic prose that brings her writing to life in sounds, smell, and emotions. The world building is dark and electrifying as we are introduced to Amelia’s world. Set in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas, I could feel the wet heat and raw tension that vibrates throughout. The spiritual entities portrayed in here are not benevolent spirits set on helping the living. These are parasites which attach to human warmth and “haunt” them-absorbing their energy until only a shell of the person remains. Smooth descriptions and fast pacing absorbed me into the story with no resistance.
Amelia and Devlin are addictive protagonists. Each with a heavy cross to bear, they gravitate towards each other with no thoughts as to how or why even though deep inside they know they are not good for one another. Amelia is a quiet self contained young woman who wears a shield around her persona. You instinctively know that no matter what she says or does…you only see what she wants you to see. I like that we read from Amelia’s POV. It created a more intimate connection with a character that doesn’t want intimacy with anyone. I find her gift to be both astonishing and creepy. To always have to be guarded less she gives herself away. Very nerve racking. We are given little bits of her background that only serves to wet our anticipation for the whole story as we go deeper into this series. There were a few things I would have loved clarified in the beginning but I understand it will all be revealed in later books.
John Devlin is the ultimate tortured hero. Heavy guilt over the death of his family combined with his attraction to Amelia and his family connections; his still waters run deep. He is delicious, dominant and dangerous with capital Ds. Ms. Stevens allows his character to straddle the line between good and bad, so like Amelia, we want him even if we aren’t sure where he stands.
The romance between them is more of an undercurrent through the main storyline rather then a dominant aspect.; yet the sexual tension between them will have you clenching your hands. The question of will they get together is unanswered and unneeded as we focus more on the mystery and conflict. At times the innuendos and games these two play became overwhelming only because I found myself becoming concerned for them. Ms. Stevens makes their connection and personalities too vivid and alive for it to stay in the background for long.
The secondary characters are as intense and secretive as our protagonists; adding even more suspense and tension to the story as each carries a small piece to the over all of the puzzle. Some we get answers to and some we don’t. The multiple sub plots allow for more deception. But the path to the answers is a twisted maze of complexity as Ms. Stevens shows us of the past, the present, and the ties that bind them all.
All in all a fantastic debut of a gothic paranormal suspense thriller. If your a fan of Peter Straub’s Lost Boy, Lost Girl or Ghost Story then you will feel right at home in Amanda Steven’s The Restorer.