Title: The Kingdom
Author: Amanda Stevens
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Series: The Graveyard Queen (Book 2)
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
ISBN-10: 0778312771 (Harlequin/Mira)
ISBN-13: 978-0778312772 (Harlequin/Mira)
Reviewed by: Sheila
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.
Quick & Dirty: A woman dragged into a world where her unknown heritage comes back to haunt her.
Opening Sentence: The breeze off the water carried a slight chill even though the sun had barely begun its western slide.
The second installment of the Graveyard Queen series, The Kingdom, lives up to the expectations of the first book. This one focuses not on Amelia’s present and possible future, but on her past. Her new restoration job in Asher Falls is just what she needs to separate herself from her jumbled feelings for the haunted detective she left behind in Charleston. But the quiet town has more than a few secrets; secrets that no one there wants to come to light. Amelia’s own past is intertwined with this little town and the oppressive evil that permeates it.
Amelia Grey has a lot to think about these days. The rules that her father gave her to live by no longer offer the protection it once did. The man she loves is haunted by the ghosts of his deceased family. All of this has left Amelia with the need to discover her own past and face her own ghosts. She begins to question all the things her parents told her that she once took for granted. How did she come to be adopted by her parents? Where did she come from? This place, this dying town of Asher Falls, calls to her on a level she doesn’t understand. And when she is drawn to an unmarked grave, the questions it raises are not ones that anyone in town what to answer. Will the answers she seeks about her past be her undoing?
Even with all the trouble Amelia finds in her new commission, there are a few good things that she does find. For instance: her new dog, Angus. A stray Amelia found lurking around the place she was staying at; Angus’s physical scars reflect Amelia’s emotional ones. Even after all the apparent pain he was put through, the dog remains steadfast and loyal to his new owner. A pet is a good companion for someone who needs to reexamine their lives. Angus offers silent acceptance at a time that Amelia feels that the foundation of her world is crumbling.
Amelia also finds a kindred spirit within the town. Sidra is a teenage girl that can also see ghosts. For someone that has purposely alienated herself from others, Amelia realizes how alone she really was before she met someone like herself. I believe that this is a pivotal moment for our heroine. Amelia sees some of herself in the teenager, Sidra. But can she see a different path available for the young woman, different from the one she herself chose? She starts to see that there are options for her now, other than her father’s rules. Can she truly break out of her box? Will she explore other avenues, now that she no longer feels so alone in the world? Should she take the chance, even if it may lead to her doom?
Of course, there is always the handsome Thane Asher. Even though there is a spark of passion between them, both of their hearts belong to others. Amelia is not yet ready to give up John Devlin and Thane is still in love with his old fiancé, Harper. But there are forces at work that want these two people together, one way or another. How far is the Asher family going to go to secure their “legacy?” What will they do if Thane and Amelia dig too deep into things they want forgotten? I like Thane’s character. He puts on a good front of disinterest, but his good nature shines through in all of his actions. I hope that Amelia learns to judge people by their actions and not their words, including her family.
One of the neat things about The Kingdom is its villains. Or should I say its lack of true villains. Everyone in the town has something to hide and they all have varying degrees of desperation in keeping them quiet. That makes for a lot of people that have the potential to hurt Amelia, and not all for the same reasons. This one fact lets the reader keep guessing who is behind all the trouble our heroine keeps getting into. Who is to say that the person she feels is following her a person, several persons, ghost, or one of the other beings she found out about in the last book?
On a side note: The two main characters from the prequel story, The Abandoned, are mentioned in passing by Amelia’s Aunt Lynrose. I always appreciate an author who ties in their previous work with their current. For me, it makes the side story more cemented into the main one and therefore, worth my time to read it.
Overall, The Kingdom is a worthy sequel to the first novel. Amanda Stevens weaves this story in such a way that makes you feel relieved in the end that justice and peace are served. She leaves you with a sense of hopefulness for the future and not despair. I can’t wait for the next installment because this series gets better and better.
I lay awake that night for the longest time, dwelling on all the old questions. I’d never understood my place in this world or the next. Why had I been given this gift if not for some larger purpose? Papa never had answers. De didn’t like to talk about the ghosts. It was our secret, he would say. Our cross to bear. And we must never, ever tell Mama. She wouldn’t understand.
Looking back, I could see how easily he’d put me off… about the ghosts, about my birth, about everything. He and Mama had taken me in when I was only a few days old, but I still knew nothing of how I had come to them or of my biological parents. All my queries had been met with a wariness that had made me so uncomfortable I’d finally stopped asking. But I knew there were things they hadn’t told me. Especially Papa. He’d never even mentioned that realm of unseen ghosts-the Others-until it was too late, until I’d already fallen for Devlin. Now I had to wonder what else he’d kept from me. What other terrors lay in wait for me?
The Graveyard Queen Series:
0.5. The Abandoned
1. The Restorer
2. The Kingdom
3. The Prophet
FTC Advisory: Harlequin/Mira provided me with a copy of The Kingdom. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.
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