Review: The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens


Title: The Kingdom
Series: Graveyard Queen, #2
Genres/Themes: dark urban fantasy, gothic/horror ghosts, mystery, romantic elements
Author: Amanda Stevens
Excerpt: on author website

Quick Take:
All in all, The Kingdom has boatloads of lush atmosphere (I’m sure you’ll hear that whenever someone describes this book), with several moments of creepiness and excitement. If you scare easily, I would suggest not reading this book alone in the dead of night. ^_^ But I’d certainly recommend the book and series to any and all fans of UF, especially those looking for something different from the usual.

Book Description (via Goodreads): 
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.


Review (first posted at Book Lovers Inc):
Atmospheric. Intense. Those are two words that keep coming to mind when I think about this book, a combination of quiet horror and lingering suspense. The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens has expanded on the strengths of its predecessor, The Restorer, while focusing on a different set of characters and locations. The beautifully written prose also brings to mind a third word: Creeptastic. ^_^

I’ve said it before, and it bears saying again: Amanda Stevens has a knack for setting up atmosphere. It’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of reading her books, in my opinion. The settings described just come alive with the language she employs. Since many of these settings involve spirits and the paranormal (remote towns and abandoned cemeteries in the deep South), the book takes on a gray, spooky feel…and the author hits the appropriate note with prose that feels effortless.

There’s quite a bit of entanglement as far as how the characters fit together, how bits of information are relevant to later developments. Some may not love that degree of complexity, nor the seemingly random, odd occurrences; heck, at times even I was a bit exasperated at feeling so unsure of what was going on—who was friend or foe, how to process certain events. But since that’s often part of the deal when reading a plot that revolves around a deep mystery, some of that is to be rightfully expected. ^_^

There’s a lot more revealed about protagonist Amelia Gray, which is a welcome direction given that much of the first book focused outwardly to other characters’ situations and backgrounds. Amelia is extremely nuanced, and the mystery surrounding her very existence is juicy enough to fill a whole string of tales. I like that she’s strong and brave, yet not impervious to fear and vulnerability.

As in book one, there was a shade of romantic intrigue, enough to satisfy the readers who love that element, but not so much as to overshadow the main plot thread and mystery. It provided enough zip to keep the story thrilling and full of life.

A bit of truth telling here: I actually enjoyed the first book more than this second one. But considering this installment does not have the benefit of “newness” that The Restorer did, I have to account for the heightened expectations (I can definitely say that The Restorer was one of my favorite books of 2011; top 3, easily. That’s a tough act to follow). Furthermore, this book has even more of an unfinished feel than the last book, insofar as many plot threads from the first and second book will feed directly into the next. Thank goodness for the fact that book three will be released in only a couple more weeks!

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
"I absolutely loved it."

2 comments:

  1. Quiet horror, I love that! I haven't read any of the books yet but I'm planning to do a marathon this week and read all three books. This is a wonderful review?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooooh! A triple header! Sounds like fun. I hope you don't spook easily. ^_^ But I think you'll absolutely love it.

    ReplyDelete

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