From the Back Cover:
My name is Amelia Gray. I'm the Graveyard Queen.
Restoring lost and abandoned cemeteries is my profession, but I'm starting to believe that my true calling is deciphering the riddles of the dead. Legend has it that Kroll Cemetery is a puzzle no one has ever been able to solve. For over half a century, the answer has remained hidden within the strange headstone inscriptions and intricate engravings. Because uncovering the mystery of that tiny, remote graveyard may come at a terrible price.
Years after their mass death, Ezra Kroll's disciples lie unquiet, their tormented souls trapped within the walls of Kroll Cemetery, waiting to be released by someone strong and clever enough to solve the puzzle. For whatever reason, I'm being summoned to that graveyard by both the living and the dead. Every lead I follow, every clue I unravel brings me closer to an unlikely killer and to a destiny that will threaten my sanity and a future with my love, John Devlin.
I am such a fan of the first three book in this series for several reasons: I love Charleston. It's my favorite city in the US. I love old cemeteries, and whenever I visit Charleston or any other old town on the East Coast, you bet I'm going to spend some time exploring their cemeteries. And finally, I love me some Southern Gothic. Add a smart heroine, a brooding hero, some sexy times, some history, and lots of spooky chills, and it all adds up to reading perfection for me. It's hard to review books in a series without revealing spoilers from earlier books, and it's doubly hard to review a mystery without accidentally revealing a little nugget a reader would have rather found on their own, so I'm going to skip the plot recap and just tell you how I felt about this book: I waited three long years for this fourth installment, and while I wish I could say it was well worth the wait, I did not find it as satisfying as earlier books.
While I have loved the undeniable chemistry between Amelia and John Devlin in previous books, I thought this one focused too much on Amelia's insecurities where Devlin is concerned. Now that they are finally a couple, I began to notice little things that bothered me, not the least of which is Devlin's refusal to acknowledge Amelia's true nature in spite of everything that's happened (FYI: she sees dead people), and they don't seem to have much in common outside of the bedroom. All of this leads up to what happens at the end of the book (and if you haven't read this book yet, don't read the blurb for book five, which includes a spoiler), so it definitely serves a purpose, but I found her inner worries to be repetitive, and they also made her look a little weaker in my eyes.
Another thing that contributed to my lower rating of this installment is that Amelia doesn't even get to a cemetery until halfway through the book. The pace was incredibly slow. Who would have thought it would take me two weeks to finish this book when I devoured the others in two days. And lastly, this book should have been published sooner. Three years is really too long to go between books in a series with an ongoing plot. I'm very glad that it reminded me of so much I'd forgotten, but I'd imagine those reading it right on the heels of The Prophet might be annoyed at the backstory info dumps. However, book five is already out, and book six releases next month, so we don't have to wait any longer to see where this thing is going.
Now on to the things I loved and that will keep me reading this series! Amanda Stevens has not lost her knack for writing some seriously creepy stuff without straying into the realm of outright horror. Conjoined twins, cults, antique ghostly photos, a curiosity shop filled with the odd and macabre, bees and cicadas, and that ever-present Gothic vibe that is uniquely Southern--this book is full of things to make your spine tingle. And, as always, the climax is made of pulse-pounding, nail-biting stuff. And I'm glad that a little bit more was revealed about Amelia's heritage. I am hopeful that one day she is going to get all of the answers she needs to be able to embrace who she is and live her life to the fullest. I'm already on to The Sinner, hoping it will take this series back up to the level of awesomeness of the earlier books. If you haven't yet read this series, I highly recommend that you do, in order, starting with The Restorer.
My Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5
*Please Note: This review references an advance digital copy received from the publisher via NetGalley, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.