Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Visitor, Number 4 in The Graveyard Queen

THE VISITOR ( Graveyard Queen, # 4)
Amanda Stevens
Harlequin MIRA
March 29, 2016

Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer living in Charleston, SC and restores old graveyards all over the South. Amelia essentially grew up in a graveyard, since her father was a custodian for a large one. Father and daughter have a very strong bond because both can see ghosts. From an early age, her father gave her four rules to avoid being taken over by parasitic ghosts: never acknowledge the dead, never stray far from hallowed ground, never associate with those who are haunted, and never, ever tempt fate. Her meeting police detective John Devlin, however, causes her to break all the rules. Devlin is being haunted by the ghosts of his dead wife and small daughter. Amelia and Devlin have an immediate bond and Amelia must try to free him from his ghosts. He is unaware of them but Amelia knows that they will eventually kill him by siphoning off his life force. All ghosts want is to be alive again. The arc of first three books, The Restorer, The Prophet and The Kingdom  tell the story of her effort to free him and her own very disturbing family background. She is successful but the door to more supernatural beings is thrown wide open.

Amanda Stevens has a real gift for escalating "creep factor". The atmosphere of The Visitor becomes more heavy and cloying as the novel progresses. There are some very frightening beings haunting the graveyard Amelia is asked to renovate. All the members of a cult were either murdered or suicides and were buried together. It becomes plain that someone, maybe human, maybe not, does not want its' secrets uncovered. Devlin, too, has become secretive and distant with Amelia. Evidently he, as well, has some family secrets to hide. 

I am afraid that the long gap in publication between The Kingdom and The Visitor was detrimental to the series. Even though she does a good job mentioning prior events without any information dumps, I have completely forgotten many of them and how they tie in. I also found Amelia lacking in caution and walking into situations that she very well knows she should avoid. The Visitor doesn't even begin to resolve the relationship problems with Devlin and leaves us with a huge cliffhanger. The next book, The Sinner, comes along in September so there will not be such a long wait. I will be reading the next book but I do have reservations about The Visitor.  It is well written, but ultimately unsatisfying.

Thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for an advance digital copy in return for an honest review.

RATING- 3 Stars

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