LJ Best Books 2017

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Librarians’ Best Books of 2011: Amanda Stevens’s The Restorer

Independent library consultant Katie Dunneback loves The Restorer (Mira: Harlequin) by Amanda Stevens

What We Said:

(Ahem, we didn’t review it. So many books, so little time. Apologies, Amanda Stevens. We hope Katie’s take below will suffice.)

What She Says:

The first in the Graveyard Queen series (there’s a prequel novella called The Abandoned well worth reading), The Restorer centers on series protagonist Amelia Gray, who has a master’s degree in anthropology and specializes in cemetery restorations. She has a by turns helpful and troublesome little tic‚ she can see ghosts. Her father recognized this about her when she was a little girl and laid out four simple rules to follow; rules that she found easy to live by until she met John Devlin, a detective with the Charleston Police Department.

You may be thinking at this point, Yay! or Boo! because you’ve pegged The Restorer as a romance. But this is not a romance‚ this is a gothic, paranormal mystery with a strong romantic element. Maybe even add in Southern as part of the gothic descriptor. The Restorer focuses squarely on the mysteries confronting Amelia, the main one being who has dumped the body of a young co-ed in the cemetery that Amelia has been contracted to restore. This murder brings to a head issues that have been simmering for decades. Our cemetery queen finds herself on the outside‚ both literally and figuratively‚ while also probing the death of another Charleston PD detective and the identity of the two ghosts attached to Devlin.

Stevens creates richly layered characters against a believable setting, deftly drawing out the issues that Amelia and John have to work through to achieve their happy ending (if they’re even meant to have one!). Their relationship will carry over into the next books in the series, I am happy to say.

Anyone who enjoyed John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for its setting and mystery elements will take a liking to The Restorer. To me, it is an exemplar of the Southern gothic subgenre. The reader should also enjoy, or at least be willing to read, strong romantic elements. Don’t make the mistake of a Twitter friend of mine and approach it as horror. It definitely has horror elements, but I’d never classify it as such.

I’ve reviewed this book in other venues, but the main reason I wanted to feature it here is because, likely owing to its narrative strengths and paranormal , it’s been optioned by ABC as a television series. Are we looking at the next True Blood or Dexter? Very possibly, though not as graphic. If the adaptation goes well, I would bet on high demand for this title and the next installments in the series, The Kingdom (April 2012) and The Prophet (May 2012).

Her Favorite Passage:

I’d spent most of my life in cemeteries‚ my graveyard kingdoms. Each a calm, sheltered, self-contained world where the chaos of the city seemed anathema. Tonight, reality had stormed the gates, wreaking havoc.

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Heather McCormack About Heather McCormack

Heather McCormack (hmccormack@mediasourceinc.com, HuisceBeatha on Twitter) is Editor, Book Review for Library Journal.


  1. Karl Helicher says:

    Interesting to see how this translates to the small screen in this new golden age of TV horror. It will compete with some of my favorites: The Walking Dead, and American Horror Story. Nice promotion of this book, which reminds be of the truism: Always remember to pay your exorcist, or you might get repossessed.