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The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

The Restorer is the first novel in Amanda Stevens' The Graveyard Queen series that features Amelia Grey. The series takes its name from the nickname Amelia uses on her blog (I think).  Amelia has followed her father into the business of restoring old cemeteries to their former glories.  As a girl she assisted her father in his duties as caretaker of several local cemeteries; he taught her everything she knows about the research, techniques, hard work  and dedication that go into restoring long neglected or abandoned cemeteries.  Like her father, Amelia can see ghosts, and her father has instilled several rules in her life meant to preserve her safety and sanity: among them are never let them know you can see them and stay away from those who are haunted.  But her father has kept secrets from her and this knowledge has driven a wedge between father and daughter and could cost Amelia everything.

Having just taken on the major project of restoring the old and long neglected Oak Grove Cemetery that's affiliated with a local Charleston university, this is the project that could make or break Amelia's business. Those that sit on the Emerson University committee that hired her have valuable connections in the city's power circles and many also sit on the trustee boards of local historical organizations and preservation societies.

However, when a murder victim is found interred on top of an ancient grave in the old cemetery all of this is thrown into peril.  For fifteen years previously another murder victim was discovered in a mausoleum in the same cemetery.  The crime remained unsolved because it was covered up by those in Charleston's power circles who all had connections to Emerson University and the exclusive secret society that operated in the dark shadows of the underworld--its members sworn to secrecy and loyalty at all costs.

The discovery of the first victim brings Detective Devlin into Amelia's life.  He's charismatic, attractive, magnetic, and (quite literally) haunted.  The latter of which makes him automatically off limits to Amelia because the haunted are dangerous to those who can see ghosts.  However, staying away from Devlin is easier said than done when another murder victim is found in a subsequent search of the cemetery grounds.  Before long Amelia is sucked into the mystery of the murders, the shadowy underworld of the cemetery, the dark secret society of the university and the dark netherworld that is home to ghosts and other dark beings.

The story is steeped in the unique Southern culture of Charleston and the local Gullah culture as well as the rich history of the city's cemetery iconography, history and customs--all of which are far more interesting and intriguing than most of the characters that populate the book.  The twist in the ending is enough to bring readers back for more in the second installment of the series.  Fans of supernatural mysteries will enjoy this read.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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