Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “He was the perfect companion. Noble, loyal, and I didn’t have to hide my secret from him. He already knew about the ghosts.”
My name is Amelia Gray. Often referred to as the Graveyard Queen, I restore old historical cemeteries. I also see ghosts. In order to protect myself from my “gift”, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father.
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.
I broke every one of those rules when I met Detective John Devlin. A desperate man who’s deceased wife and child cling to him, slowly weakening his hold on this world. I knew I should have pushed him away but his allure outweighed my objections. I now know that our attraction has led to dire consequences; opening a door that puts us both in danger. When I was approached to restore an old cemetery out of town, I accepted, hoping to put some distance between me and John.
Asher Hills is a living ghost town, sentenced to a slow death by the greed of it’s founding family. My arrival here was no coincidence. I was brought to Asher Hills for a reason. A reason that will tear my world apart as I uncover the secrets this dying kingdom holds.
The isolated kingdom surrounded by water- looms heavy over the town that once blossom, now cloaked by darkness and evil. And there underneath the water lays stone angels and the graves of those of the unrest as they walk among the living looking for peace and justice.
Amanda Stevens’s The Kingdom is the second in her bone chilling Graveyard Queen series. Picking up a few months after The Restorer, Ms. Stevens’s once again submerges us into her world of gothic horror, infused with the slick heat and superstitions of the South. Dark poetic descriptions hold you hostage in it’s insidious embrace as we are gently guided through the story. Ms. Stevens strong voice wraps around you in each chilling scene. Amelia’s world is a frightening one and it translates well across paper. Blessed or cursed, depending on how you look at it, Amelia has the ability to see the dead. An ability that puts her in danger because the dead in here aren’t benevolent specters but vengeful parasites that absorb the energy of the living until they are nothing more then a walking shell.
When Amelia accepts a restoration job in Asher Falls, SC, the devastation of the town calls to her, as does the town’s two cemeteries. One of which was buried under water. Enclosed by mountains and lakes, the town has a presence of evil that seems to be waiting for something. An evil that calls to Amelia while repulsing her at the same time. She feels like she’s come home even though she has never been here before. As Amelia begins her restoration, she finds herself at the center of a mystery. A mystery that that addresses her past and leaves us and Amelia reeling as questions are answered.
Amelia continues to be an addicting protagonist as her fear of the dead is challenged by the need to solve the mysteries of Asher Falls. A naturally reserved young woman, her aloof attitude is beginning to fray, allowing in more then human contact. Intelligent, loyal, and tenacious; Amelia continues to push where she is not wanted even as she feels her life is slowly slipping out of control as outside factors batter at her self imposed isolation. Even though weakening can only hurt Amelia, I like seeing her walls starting to crumble, and finally giving her a chance at something close to a normal life. I did get somewhat annoyed by her inability to ask for help though I understood her reasons. Amelia’s curiosity places her in some truly dangerous situations but her natural reluctance to bring someone into her world left her unable to ask for the help she desperately needed.
We don’t see much of Devlin in here though he remains a strong presence through Amelia’s thoughts. A new love interest in revealed, Thane Asher. Thane Asher, the scion of the Asher family, is an enigma. Portrayed as a lazy, carefree young man, we soon learn that Thane has deeper connections to the land and his family then originally revealed. He pursues Amelia, finding a common thread between them that intrigues him. He knows there is another who occupies her heart, but takes a chance that he can be the one to capture and keep it.
“Life is to short to live in the past, Amelia. Let him have his ghosts.”
The romance between Thane and Amelia is more of an undercurrent through the main storyline rather then a dominant aspect. Yet it holds important clues to the overall main conflict. The delicious sexual tension between them serves a different purpose as these two strangers find themselves on the edge of a dark precipice. I admit to not being as vested in this one. My love for Devlin is great.
The secondary characters in here are a dynamic part of the story as each one has a secret waiting to be revealed, adding suspense and tension to the story. Deeply characterized, no one is as they seem and we find ourselves both clinging to and edging away from each of them. A complex plot line and multiple sub plots feed upon one another as each revelation brings us closer to the answers Amelia seeks. Deception and betrayal are the foundation that the town residents have built their life upon. A foundation that is rotten at it’s core.
The Kingdom is a fantastic follow up to The Restorer and a welcome addition to any paranormal horror lovers bookshelf. I look forward to The Prophet which releases 5/12/2012. Beware though. This series seems to being out the primordial fears that most of us don’t acknowledge and will have you checking over your shoulder frequently, fearful of what may be watching you.
Overall Rating: B+