Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

I received this book from NetGalley.

In early September 2011 this book got delivered to my door. It was called The Restorer and the idea of ghosts and murder mystery really intrigued me. That day I was alternating between reading chapters of my English book and letters from my French read. I think I managed all of about six alternations before the French book was left, forgotten, to one side.

The Restorer took me on such an emotional ride! I loved every moment of it and spent the last four months of 2011 gushing about how it was my favourite 2011-published read. The Kingdom, the second book in the series, was due for release in October 2011 but the release date got pushed back. I awaited its now-2012 release date with baited breath and when I got approved for the book on NetGalley in January, the approval email was met with a high-pitched squeal and much fan-girling. That’s how excited I was to get my hands on this book! The boyfriend had this look on his face that clearly said that he thought I’d gone temporarily mad but who care? More Amelia Gray!


Title: The Kingdom
Series: The Graveyard Queen #2
Author: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira (Harlequin)
Target Audience: adult
Pages: 400
Chapters: 40
PoV : 1st person
Tense : past tense

Story : 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.

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts and impressions : The very first page. That’s how long it took before I was completely and utterly hooked. The events in this book take place six months after the end of the first book. Amelia is on her way to a restoration project in an area cut off from everything else when the lake expanded several decades ago, flooding some areas of the town. All those houses, all those lives are still down there, not to mention all those ghosts of the past trapped in this backwoods place.

Right off the bat I was completely head over heels for this setting. It’s remote, it’s spooky – it’s perfect for this sort of book! The reader becomes just as immersed in these secluded surroundings as Amelia herself and I felt that the author did a fantastic job of creating an eerie location in what feels almost like an abandoned ghost town.

There are various different intrigues woven into this story that keep the pace racing along and the tension (often) high. Some things I’d figured out long before they became accepted fact (Freya’s role) but others left me completely stunned (Papa). Amelia was a bit slow on the uptake regarding the main theme in this book – her heredity – but then this is a first person narration and I got the feeling that this was a case of an unreliable narrator. I think that deep down Amelia knew the truth as of fairly early on but she shrank from this knowledge until she could no longer pretend that it wasn’t staring her in the face.

In the first book, Amelia has four rules that she follows in order to protect herself from the ghosts that she can see but must never acknowledge. When she meets John Devlin, a haunted cop, she breaks each of these rules one by one. Now she has to pay the price as bigger things start to stir, calling out to her, drawing her to them. There are worse things than ghosts.

The Restorer introduces the concept of ghosts and what they are as well as dark creatures that always remain a bit mysterious. The Kingdom takes things a step further with witches, strange creatures that do not belong to our world, and a dark menace that Amelia calls pure Evil, adding a fascinating layer to the lore in this series. Though I liked the concept of a force that influences the people who let it in, I didn’t really so much understand exactly what it was or how it could manifest itself in so many different ways. I suspect that explanations are still to come, hopefully in the next book.

The Kingdom separates Amelia from next to everything that was in The Restorer, including John Devlin. Despite his absence (he didn’t figure in the book at all), he’s often referred to and I’m fairly sure that Devlin is Amelia’s long-term romantic interest in the series. I kept hoping that he’d show up but the author stuck to her guns and in the long run I suspect that this was better for Amelia as it allowed her character to grow. And grow she certainly did! She is just the sort of heroine that I adore.

However, there is still an important romance subplot in this book with a new romantic interest. At first I was fairly guarded and not quite willing to give Thane Asher the time of day that he deserved – after all, he was Devlin’s replacement and I wanted Devlin! – but once I’d put my prejudices aside, he grew on me. He was certainly an interesting enigma and I never knew quite where I stood in how I felt about him, much the same as Amelia did really. Unfortunately, his chemistry with Amelia just wasn’t on the same level as the Devlin-Amelia chemistry that we saw in the previous book. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t like their relationship, I did, Thane just didn’t impact me the way Devlin did. The Prophet’s blurb confirms that Devlin will be back in the third book and I can’t wait to see how he and Amelia will act around each other!

Angus deserves a mention too. Poor, sweet Angus. What happened to him was a horrible but very real reality and I’m glad that Amanda Stevens chose to address it in the book. He was completely adorable. Now that Amelia has adopted him, I’m really hoping that he’ll keep his status as a main character in the next book.

As of the very first chapter I had tingles going down my spine. That’s quite some feat. Every time I put the book down, I had an overpowering urge to delve right back in putting off everything I could in favour of reading. I never once lost interest in the narrative. And that last line? Oh so many promises for the next book in fewer than ten words.

The Kingdom has cemented a spot for Amanda Stevens on my favourite authors list. It was all I could have asked for and more. It took me on a ride I won’t be forgetting. I urge everyone to read this series!

Just one question: who on earth licked her neck?!

Style: Colloquial at times but very absorbing. Absorbing to the point where we ate a burnt dinner because the story was just far more interesting than keeping an eye on the cooking!

Final verdict: Two words: More Please!! 5 stars

Extra notes: I was too absorbed by the narrative to pay any attention to the language but it didn’t stand out. Sex is kind of there but nothing explicit.


  1. What a great review! I love this series so much :D Can't wait to get it.

    Book Enslaved

    1. I love it too! If, like me, you're obsessed with Devlin, the third book is just wow on the relationship front! Hope you get the book soon, I'm sure you'll be head over heels for it!!

  2. I agree with you, I'm totally in love with the series. And the prophet is just awesome too! I'm glad you liked it as much as I did. It's dark, complex and so interesting! Great review!

    1. I love the world that Amanda Stevens has created. I'm looking forward to getting my review of The Prophet out - I enjoyed that book so much that as soon as I'd finished it I wanted to go back to the beginning and reread it!

  3. I've been curious about this series, but I haven't gotten the chance to read anything from it yet. The covers are so pretty though, that I've been thinking of giving it a try for awhile. After reading your review, I have to try it out! I'll look for the first book the next time I'm at the library!


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