Rummanah Aasi
  I requested The Restorer by Amanda Stevens from Netgalley quite a while ago, but it expired when I found the time to read it. Luckily, I was able to snag a copy of the book at my library. While many categorize the book as paranormal romance, I actually think it much more accurate to label this one as a paranormal mystery with a romantic slant, at least that's how the series starts off, this is the first book in a planned series. While there is romance, the book focuses more on a murder mystery.

Description (from book's cover): My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe. It started with the discovery of a young woman's brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I've been hired to restore. The clues to the killer--and to his other victims--lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

Review: I wasn't sure if I was going to like The Restorer when I first picked it up. I had previously read a paranormal mystery that left me underwhelmed so I had really had low expectations for this book. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it. With a few interruptions, I almost read it in an one sitting and the plot grabbed me right away.
  Cemetery restorer, Amelia Gray saw her first ghost when she was nine. Since that day she has live by the rules her father, who also sees ghosts, instilled in her:
  1. Never acknowledge the dead.
  2. Never stray far from hallowed ground.
  3. Never associate with those who are haunted.
  4. Never, ever tempt fate. 
Amelia's father knows what the repercussions of this 'gift' will have in Amelia's life, for that reason he gave her these rules to protect her. Amanda has abide by these rules for all of her life. Keeping a small circle of friends and being mostly by herself to keep herself safe from the dead. She has become accustomed to her boring or sheltered life, but that all that changes when the body of a murder victim is found in the cemetery she is restoring. Amelia is asked to collaborate with police given her extensive knowledge about cemeteries. She is partnered up with detective John Devlin and immediately becomes fascinated with him as she sees the two ghosts that haunt him. As Amelia digs deeper into the case and her attraction to John grows, she starts to break the rules.
  The Restorer is a spooky, creepy, and fascinating read. Stevens did an amazing job creating this unique world. Her attention to details created a great Gothic atmosphere. There were pages where I almost feel the chill of the ghost lingering around me as I read the story. I could feel the cold, damp, grass beneath my feet as I walked on the cemetery where Amelia worked. It was creepy, but at the same time it was kind of beautiful too. Cemeteries aren't my number one place to hang out, but the explanations of the symbolism used in the tombs are fascinating.
  The characters in this book are complex and endearing. Amelia is woman with a difficult and different life. Having the ability to see ghost hasn't make her life any easier, just more complicated. Since she was a child she has been the odd one and has always living by her father rules without questioning them, but given the severity of her situation you can't really blame her. The book is told in first person from Amelia's point of view, allowing us to connect with her and feel the inner conflict raging within her. Amelia doesn't dwell on her loneliness. Yes she has her bad days like all of us, but she does her best in living her life as possibly as she can with the limitations and difficulties she has.
   John Devlin is a tortured and broken man, who goes through life without really living it. He is dark, intense, full of secrets. and mainly keeps to himself. He is a man with a very painful and tragic past, who doesn't think he deserves any happiness. We learn about John's life as the book progresses. I really ache for him when I learned about his heartbreaking story. He was by far my favorite character and I really look forward to learning more about him.
   The relationship between Amelia and John is tense to say the least. There is an undeniable attraction between them and I loved watching it grow. At first I thought Amelia's affections for John were one sided, because there was always a wall built around him but there are lingering gazes and body movements that made me think otherwise. It is obvious that John is Amelia's forbidden fruit and vise versa. John's pain and past doesn't let him to move on and be happy. Like Amelia, John is also trying to break his self imposed rules.
  This book's supporting characters are also very interesting. I really loved Regina and Ethan. I also like how the city of Charleston is described, with its quirks and all making it feel as if it's another character.
  The Restorer has a great mix of mystery and suspense. We are given the right amount of answers and clues to get our mind whirring and trying to find out the perpetrator along with Amelia and John. Though my prediction of the criminal was correct, I wasn't sure of criminal's motive and I kept reading to find out.  Although the mystery is solved by the end of this book, there are things left unsolved and secrets left untold, especially in regard to Amelia's father but it didn't leaving me hanging. I'm definitely looking forward to meeting these characters and the world again in the next book in this series, The Kingdom, which is slated to come out next year. If you are interested in mysteries and don't mind the paranormal with a dash of romance, I would really consider picking this book up.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is language and disturbing images. There are two brief but small sex scenes. Recommended to mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2) available in April 2012, The Dead Room by Heather Graham, The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting
6 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    This one sounds so good! I snagged a copy at BEA without really knowing much about it, but your review has me considering bumping it up the TBR pile! I love a tortured hero, so John sounds like someone I could really fall in love with, and I'm already halfway there just knowing he has a heartbreaking story. Fabulous review Rummanah!

  2. At this point in my life, it seems like I'd have a lot in common with John, well, except for the dark, intense, full of secrets part. You have me really wanting to learn more about his past.

    I remember reading some really great reviews for this book a while back, but since it's been a while, I appreciate the reminder to get this one on my wishlist.

  3. Rubita Says:

    Charleston is one of those cities that I love visiting in fiction (and would like to in real life), but don't see a lot of. I also love a mystery--and while the romance is important to me--I don't mind if it takes a back seat if the other elements of the book are strong. Also, I really liked The Body Finder so maybe I should try this.

    Thanks for the review!

  4. Oh I enjoyed this one too! I think I was surprised at the book. I think I was expecting something more haunting, but I wasn't disappointed. I also want the next book!

  5. This book sounds absolutely amazing, Rummanah! Although, it kind of sounds a little scary. I'm kind of a wimp. :D But, the part about walking through the graveyard, although it's not a place I hang out either, sounded so lovely. I really want to give this one a read. I'll just make sure to keep the lights on! LOL!

  6. Danmark Says:

    This is an extremely difficult book to review. Amelia sees ghosts and they have been a part of her life. However, there are set rules concerning ghosts that her father has instructed her to follow. All of the rules instruct Amelia not to look at the ghosts and to guard against them. Amelia has been successful all her life until now. When she notices Devlin, one of the haunted. This first person view takes the reader through a creepy mystery that seems to include the entire town and local college.

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