Book Review: The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Genres: Adult fiction, paranormal – ghosts, mystery.

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.

What better way to start off an early English summer than by reading a ghostly adult thriller. No? That’s what I thought, but the novel quickly draws you in to its captivating story. Think: Welcome to Dead House (Goosebumps #1) by R.L. Stine for adults. I had originally thought that this would be a young adult paranormal novel, as that’s what it is shelved as on Goodreads, but it became clear early on that it was a mistake. This lead me to completely suspend my judgement about the book and take it more seriously as I had no idea what to expect; I’ve only ever read one other adult ghost story, Her Fearful Symmetry, in my life. I think that this lead to the novel being much more believable to me because I felt I didn’t have to worry about werewolves or people with magical powers appearing out of nowhere.

The novel begins with our protagonist already long acquainted with her ability to see ghosts: “I was nine when I first saw my first ghost”. Amelia was self-assured and confident even as a child and is instantly a likeable character. Her bizarre father constantly reminds her of the rules:

1. Never acknowledge the dead. Don’t look at them, don’t speak to them, don’t let them sense your fear.
2. Never stray too far from hallowed ground.
3. Keep your distance from those who are haunted. If they seek you out, turn away from them, for they constitute a terrible threat and cannot be trusted.
4. Never, ever tempt fate.

I found The Restorer to be a good mix of ghost story and murder mystery that constantly kept me guessing. There were incidents of “Oh I know where this is going” and then I’d be completely wrong. The novel is full of complex characters; you’ll want to know each of their stories, but is also exceptionally spooky. Even though I was sitting in 80 degree heat, I’d feel chills. I also found the novel to be educational as it mentions many little details about cemetery restoration, symbols and history, which is actually very fascinating.

I’m giving this novel a 3.5/5 because even though I really did enjoy it, I found it to be slow paced at first but then the ending was quite rushed. Even so, it was still an extremely creepy, engrossing novel and I’m definitely interested in reading the free, short prequel, The Abandoned, next.

This book was obtained as an eGalley from Harlequin.

Note: There is a slightly more detailed, spoilery review on Goodreads.

My Rating: ★★★½