Welcome back to Day Three of Something Wicked Comes! Today's stops:
Jess@The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow: Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci,
David Catrow (Illustrator)
Be sure to visit these fantastic bloggers and enter their giveaways!
Day three of Something Wicked Comes brings us to graveyards and cemeteries. A night, ( or day) in an abandoned graveyard alone would be terrifying, but for Amelia Gray, the heroine of Amanda Stevens' The Graveyard Queen Series, spending time by herself in forgotten cemeteries is part of her job as a cemetery restorer. This is one of my favorite series. It is full of ghosts, cemeteries and a thrilling romance. I especially love the discussions on cemeteries and all the symbolism and lore associated with head stones and beliefs and customs for burying the dead. Ms. Stevens does a phenomenal job in bringing the old graveyards to life in her series. It in my opinion, If you like chilling ghost books this is a must read. I am thrilled to have Amanda here today to tell you a bit more about cemetaries and headstones! Be sure to enter the giveaway as well. Here is a bit more about Amanda Stevens:
Amanda Stevens was born and raised in the foothills of the Ozarks, an area known for its folklore and superstition. She cut her teeth on ghost stories and learned from an early age to fear black cats, ladders and broken mirrors. A risk-taker, she now resides with all three. In her spare time, Amanda loves exploring old graveyards and collecting Alfred Hitchcock memorabilia. Some of her online haunts include Twitter,Facebook, MI6, ONTD! and the Depeche Mode Fan Club.
A few of her favorite things:
Her black cat, Lola
Amanda resides in Houston, Texas, where she is currently working on The Graveyard Queen series for MIRA Books and the Soul Jumper series for Harlequin Teen. The author of over fifty novels, Amanda is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. She is a three-time Rita finalist and the recipient of career achievement awards in Series Romantic Suspense and Series Romantic Mystery from RT Magazine.
And here is Amanda on graveyards:
I grew up near an abandoned cemetery in rural Arkansas with graves dating back to the 1800s. It was one of my favorite places as a kid and I still remember how awed I was by the history of that withering place. I didn’t know it at the time, but the discovery of that graveyard stirred the embers of a future fascination.
When I started researching THE GRAVEYARD QUEEN, I had what I thought was a passing interest in the funeral arts. But the deeper I dug into gravestone symbols and southern folklore, the more enthralled I became with cemetery culture. I poured over books and walked old graveyards so that like my protagonist, Amelia, I could study the dead by interpreting the symbols and motifs on their headstones.
The death’s heads symbols–winged skulls–are prevalent in cemeteries that date back to the 1600s. They represent the grim Pilgrim outlook on death and mortality. The skulls eventually morphed into more angelic or cherub-looking effigies, a transformation that corresponded with a shift from fire and brimstone theology to a period of religious enlightenment wherein death and the hereafter were looked upon in a more optimistic light.
The Victorians, of course, elevated death to a whole new art form, and the weeping willow became one of the most popular mourning symbols of the period. It represented a shift from a concern of the fate of the soul to the sorrow of those left behind.
photo credits: celestialrose, elycefeliz, peppergrass
My fascination for gravestone symbols inspired the mystery plot in THE RESTORER:
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 lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Detective 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.
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.Mass Market Paperback, 1st Edition, 376 pagesPublished March 27th 2012 by Mira
I did not review The Restorer since I read it before I started my blog, so I am going to refer you over to my friend Maja@The Nocturnal Library for her review. You can see my review of The Kingdom here. Here is my review for:
My name is Amelia Gray.
I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I've broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.
In order to protect myself, I've vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.Now I'm faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.
Four and a half stars: Another fantastic installment in this wonderful series.
Amelia returns back to Charleston ready to face Devlin and his ghosts after her harrowing experience in Asher Falls. She quickly learns that by breaking Papa's steadfast rules she has opened the door and let the ghosts into her life. Her once safe, hallowed sanctuary has been invaded by the ghost of Devlin's daughter, Shani. Again, Shani returns the garnet rings and begs Amelia to help her. Amelia is also haunted by the specter of Robert Fremont, the prophet, a murdered police officer. Fremont needs her to help solve his murder. He insists the stars are aligned and the time is right. Amelia finds herself immersed into the murder mystery that ultimately leads back to Devlin and his dead wife and daughter. To make matters worse, a man has returned to Charleston. A man well practiced in voodoo and dark magic, a man who was raised with Devlin's dead wife Mariama. Soon Amelia is dealing with root magic, tea leaves, palm readers and the deep superstition that lives and breathes in the South. The door is open and something is haunting Amelia. Can she piece together the mystery, catch a killer and finally rid Devlin of his ghosts?
What I Liked:
- Again Ms. Stevens takes us back to the Old South as we pick up where book one, The Restorer, leaves off. Amelia is forced to once again face Devlin and take on his ghosts. Tensions run high and the attraction between the two is electric and explosive. I love the way the romance in this series builds and builds. If you love a high voltage, tense romance this one fits the bill.
- The writing is haunting and beautiful and full of rich, detailed descriptions. Ms. Stevens has a gift in her ability to paint such amazing pictures that you can almost smell and feel all the sights, sounds and smells as they leap off the page. This book also gives plenty of heart pounding, adrenaline filled scenes as Amelia encounters ghosts, witch doctors and more.
- I loved that this book brings us back to the original story line that began in The Restorer and follows through to a dramatic and intense finish. To say the plot thickens is an understatement! There are some jaw dropping surprises along the way.
- I was delighted that Angus, her dog, returns with Amelia from Asher Falls and becomes her constant protector. He has won my heart!
- I really loved that this book takes us through many of the deep secrets that are renowned in the South. We meet palmists, root doctors, explore palmistry and voodoo and of course encounter plenty of ghosts. The only thing missing is mouth watering descriptions of Southern cuisine.
- Finally, I love that Amelia's character is growing and evolving. She is starting to let go of her father's steadfast rules and she hesitantly begins to communicate with the ghosts instead of constantly ignoring them. I like that she is finally beginning to embrace her gift and hopefully she will continue to use her talent to help ghosts.
And The Not So Much:
- I was disappointed that none of the story lines from The Kingdom were revisited. All of the characters and events that were present in the second book are buried and forgotten. I had hopes that Tilly and Sidra and Thane would be back for this installment, but alas they do not make an appearance.
- I missed some of the creepy atmospheric tension that is so prominent in the first two books of this series. There are some chilling scenes but they were not as frightening. You can read this book before bed with no worries. I can't say the same for the other two books.
- I was disappointed that Amelia hardly spends anytime in the graveyard. I love all the discussion and revelations about gravestones and graveyards and this books does not have much about graveyards. Granted, Ms. Stephens instead works in other symbols and information regarding voodoo, root doctors and such that it makes up for the lack of graveyard information.
The Graveyard Queen is one of my new favorite series. It is filled with rich imagery, chilling scenes, ghosts, superstition, secrets and a fiery romance. If you are looking for a new series to try, I highly recommend checking out these books. I am fascinated by all the information on graveyards and their restorations. Ms. Stephens plunges you deeply into the superstitious South, haunts you with ghosts and leaves you gasping for more!
"She always said it was a foolish woman who relied solely on the discretion and generosity of a man, even one as wealthy and as smitten as my grandfather."
"I didn't yearn for him in the middle of the night, didn't awaken to his conjured whisper in my ear, the phantom caress of his fingers along my spine."
"My foreboding grew with the wind. The harbor sparkled with sunlight but somewhere in the distance, darkness gathered."
"A fragrance should haunt, don't you think? Like an elusive memory."
"I no longer believed in the randomness of the universe or the happenstance of everyday occurrences. Everything happened for a reason, and I was very much afraid this current synchronicity would be the death of me."
"My gaze flashed to his desk where papers fluttered like bird wings beneath an upside down tumbler."
"He wasn't yet free of his ghosts, might never be free of them, so where did that leave us? With a life half lived before twilight?"
"I sat there and watched her stitch, the rhythm and shimmer of her needle and thimble almost entrancing."
"The glow on the horizon began to fade, and in the rising wind, the dead leaves sounded like tiny clappers. There was a strange rhythm to the sound. A stirring of energy that made my heart quicken."
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not compensated for this review!
A huge thanks to Amanda Stevens for the exceptional post today! Be sure to visit her on her website, twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Do yourself a favor and check out this series. You can get a small sample by reading the Prequel: The Abandoned.
There are rules for dealing with ghosts. Too bad Ree Hutchins doesn't know them.When her favorite patient at a private mental hospital passes away, psychology student Ree Hutchins mourns the elderly woman's death. But more unsettling is her growing suspicion that something unnatural is shadowing her.Amateur ghost hunter Hayden Priest believes Ree is being haunted. Even Amelia Gray, known in Charleston as The Graveyard Queen, senses a gathering darkness. Driven by a force she doesn't understand, Ree is compelled to uncover an old secret and put abandoned souls to rest--before she is locked away forever....An ebook exclusive prequel to The Graveyard Queen series.Kindle Edition, 73 pagesPublished April 1st 2011 by MIRA