Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

Title: The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2)
Author: Amanda Stevens
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Heat Index: 2 out of 5
Release Date: March 27th, 2012
Word/Page Count: 400 pages
Format: NetGalley

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town...

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I’ve been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I’m coming to think I have another purpose here.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I’ve discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

Amanda Stevens builds on the strong foundation she established in The Restorer and leaves her readers breathless with the events in The Kingdom.

The Kingdom brings us back to Amelia Grey’s world, where ghosts walk among us, attached to the people who once knew them, slowly sucking the life and warmth from them. Amelia is one of the few who can see the haunting specters, but has been raised by her father to never acknowledge a ghost for fear of the consequences. After the events in The Restorer, Amelia feels the need to be away from Charleston and takes a restoration job in the isolated mountain town of Asher Falls.

Our introduction to Asher Falls comes in the haunting story Amelia is told on the ferry ride to the town. Once a thriving community, the downfall of the town came when parts of it were flooded in an attempt to make a reservoir in the area. Water now covers houses, streets, cars, and the old Thorngate graveyard.

“The original Thorngate was rarely used. It was all but forgotten. No one ever went out there. No one gave it a second thought… until the water came.”

I stared at him in horror. “Are you telling me the bodies weren’t moved before they expanded the lake?”

He shuddered. “Afterward, people started seeing things. Hearing things.”

I fingered the talisman at my throat. “Like what?”

He hesitated, his gaze still on the water. “If you look for this basin on any South Carolina map, you’ll find the Asher Reservoir. But around here, we call it Bell Lake.”


“In the old days, coffins were equipped with a warning system-a chain attached to a bell on the grave in case of premature burial. They say at night, when the mist rolls in, you can hear those bells.” He glanced over the railing. “The dead down there don’t want to be forgotten… ever again.”

As Amelia sets about her work restoring the newer Thorngate cemetery, she becomes slowly enraptured with the mysteries of the other graveyard. Along with the mysteries of the underwater graveyard, Amelia also uncovers parts of her family history that were previously unknown, along with the discovery of the circumstances surrounding her birth. Secrets that have long been hidden to her are brought to the surface, leaving both the reader and Amelia reeling from their revelation.

As for our secondary characters, I do admit to feeling the absence of Devlin, our male lead during The Restorer. We are introduced to a new male character, though, Thane Asher, heir to the local wealthy family. Though he hides behind a charming mask, underneath, Thane is as much of a complex character as Devlin, and just as haunted. His ghosts are of a far different variety, however, and much more intricately connected to Amelia than she initially realizes.

I know that there are quite a few people who aren’t fans of a romantic triangle. I’ll admit to being in that group myself, on occasion. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem Ms. Stevens is going to be taking us too far in that direction at this point in time. There is a hint of romance between Thane and Amelia but, by the end of the novel, it’s clear that, at this point in time, their paths aren’t meant to cross. I like that Ms. Stevens handled this part of their potential relationship without drama; both characters are very adult and realize that there are other commitments to which they must attend, commitments that are pretty much closing the possibility of them being together.

One final aspect of this novel that I have to note is Ms. Stevens beautiful use of prose to create a scene. Much like the gothic novels of old, Ms. Stevens paints such a vivid picture that the environment seems to take on a life of its own, becoming a character that is living, breathing, and interacting with not only the characters, but also the reader.

The breeze off the water carried a slight chill even though the sun had barely begun its western slide. It was still hours until twilight. Hours until the veil between our world and the next would thin, but already I could feel the ripple of goose bumps at the back of my neck, a sensation that almost always signaled an unnatural presence.

In addition, Ms. Stevens’ possesses a masterful talent of exploiting the sensation that something might be right behind you, ready to jump out, giving you the unnerving feeling you have walking in a dark suspicious alley in the middle of the night. She can leave the reader both completely unnerved yet highly anticipating the next page of the story.


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