Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: The Kingdom (The Graveyard Queen, #2)

The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2)Author: Amanda Stevens
Publication Date: March 27th 2012
Publisher: Mira
Mass Market Paperback, 376 pages
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Something was seriously amiss in this town. I’d felt it the moment I crossed Bell Lake. The shadows seemed deeper, the nights longer, the secrets older. Even the wind felt different here.

In The Kingdom, second book in The Graveyard Queen series, Amelia Gray is called to restore the local cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, and she gladly accepts, hoping some time away will help put emotional distance between her and John Devlin, the haunted police detective she desperately loves. The job, however, is not as simple as it seemed to be. Thorngate cemetery and the powerful family that used to own it are surrounded by controversy and not everyone is welcoming. Amelia soon discovers that she has blood ties to the place and she is forced to face not only the ghosts that are everywhere, but her family's history as well.

It is strange but admirable that Stevens decided to distance her heroine from the original love interest for the duration of this book. As much as I missed John Devlin and his dark, brooding personality, that particular storyline is a lot like good wine: the more time Stevens chooses to give it, the better it will become. After all, if Devlin was freed from the ghosts that haunt him – those of his wife and daughter – too quickly, it would make the issue seem less serious than it’s supposed to be, especially if the trigger happened to be his attraction to Amelia. In addition, getting to know Thane Asher, the man who kept Amelia company in this book, was an unexpected pleasure. Like Devlin, he has a lot of baggage and a definite dark side, but they really couldn’t be more different. I could see why Amelia would be attracted to him, especially after everything she went through with and for Devlin.

The heavy atmosphere of Deep South wasn’t as pronounced in The Kingdom, but the creepiness of the minuscule town and the closed mentality of such a small community were portrayed rather excellently. Asher Falls had layers upon layers of shameful and dangerous secrets, and for some unknown reason, Amelia was at the very center of it all.

Amelia Gray is a highly unusual Urban Fantasy heroine. She is gentle, reserved and very quiet, trained to keep her emotions and reactions to herself. She never relies on sarcasm and her entire personality is influenced by her Southern upbringing. Perhaps she is not a real lady like her adoptive mother and her aunt, but she is, above all, polite – towards friends and enemies alike.

My mother and aunt were very beautiful women, exuding a bygone femininity that smelled of honeysuckle, sandalwood and fresh linen. Papa, by contrast, smelled of the earth. Or was that me? To Mama’s horror, I often had little half moons of dirt beneath my nails, the odd leaf or twig stuck to my hair. Even wearing my Sunday best, a bit of graveyard seemed to cling to me.

Stevens’s prose is lush and gorgeous, intense and heartbreaking. Her characters come alive so easily, and her talent for creating an eerie atmosphere is enormous. Truth be told, there aren’t that many Urban Fantasy authors like her. With her talent, she could write anything she chooses, anything at all, which is why I’m especially proud that she opted for my favorite genre.

I’m supposed to read the third book, The Prophet, with my friend Heidi over at Rainy Day Ramblings and I’m already so excited about it. If you’re a fan of dark, eerily beautiful stories that will keep you awake at night, please give this series a try. It was, after all, recommended to me by Ann Aguirre, and she’s a lady who knows what she’s talking about.


  1. I ordered this one from the library, hopefully it will get here soon. I loved the first book in this series and cannot wait to read the next one. Great review!

  2. Amelia Gray does sound pretty atypical for an Urban Fantasy heroine. I haven't read nearly as many books in this genre as you, but most of the heroines I have come across have been typically tough. She seems likeable though which is always a plus. I'm glad this series is going well for you, Maja! Great review as always! :)

  3. "Her characters come alive so easily, and her talent for creating an eerie atmosphere is enormous."

    LOVE IT! I love authors who have a real gift for making their characters leap off the page since characters are always my favorite part of any book:) I've heard nothing but good things about this one, so glad to know you enjoyed it as well Maja!

  4. Quick fact: Any series called the Graveyard Queen just HAS to be awesome and your review confirms that x) I know how much you loved the first book so I'm glad you loved this one even more, Maja! It's so cool how Amelia isn't your common kick-ass and sarcastic urban fantasy heroine -- I think I'm going to love her and her ability to be sweet and polite to everyone. Even I don't think I could be that way to enemies LOL :')

    Amazingly beautiful review, Maja! Seems like you and Amanda both have gorgeous prose in common! ;) <3

  5. Hey Maja! Long time no see... I'm sorry!

    I can't believe I still haven't checked out book 1. It's on my digital device, but I just haven't found the time... Though I will, soon. I think there's so much potential, not just because the original heroine and the whole Graveyard Queen theme, but because you're completely right about the love interest: if it worked out too easily, it would lose importance. So, I'm glad Devlin didn't show up much-I just hope that there's not an unseemly love triangle ahead. I don't mind when they're well executed, but you know exactly what I mean. Luckily, it sounds like this is not a danger in the series.

    I'm rambling so I'll stop now. :) Thanks for the wonderful review, as usual!

  6. YAY! I loved that we get to know Amelia aside from her usual connections. She gets a chance to develop on her own. I was shocked about her family. Though I also missed Devlin in this one, I can understand why Stevens chose to remove him. Amelia needed this journey in order to survive the third book.

    I can't wait for you to read "The Prophet", which was so well done. Lots of twists and turns. And lots and lots of Devlin time. :D

  7. Wow this series sounds awesome! I can't believe I haven't heard about it before, you can so tell that Steven's writing is gorgeous just from that quote you've left us with. Also I love it when authors don't give us enough of the love interest (this Devlin guy I can't wait to meet) but the time we get with them is just the best! Lovely review hun and thanks for bringing this series on my radar! :)

  8. What you didn't mention Angus, he stole my heart. I loved your review of this one. Yes you are right Amelia is so different from the sassy kick butt characters we love but she is strong and shines in her own way. I love the creepy tension filled atmospheres that Stephens creates! I can't believe I still haven't read The Prophet. I will send you an email. Next week is busy on the blog. I have four reviews but after that I can squeeze it in. I need to keep chipping away at that NG pile and this is one of those NG titles!

  9. My eyes slightly bulged when I heard the main protagonist is the more gentle, shy and polite sort. And oh my, in an urban fantasy novel, of all genres!

    Lovely review, Maja. :) Urban fantasy isn't usually my cup of tea but this sounds novel sounds exquisite. :) Happy reading to you and Heidi! Hope you enjoy. :)

  10. The writing sounds so beautiful, Maja! I love the quote you included in your review. I wish I had more time to read each and every book I want to! Lovely review Maja. :)

  11. Pretty sure I've heard of the first one and I think I've seen the second book around too! It sounds really interesting and I think I should add this book to my TBR!

    Awesome review, Maja! ♥ Glad you enjoyed it!

    PS: Love the quote you used on your review ;)

  12. Lovely review, Maja. I like the sound of Amelia, she really does sound different to the standard heroines and that opening paragraph about the lake and the town has me intrigued! Fantastic review, hun!

  13. I have yet to read this series despite the raving reviews I keep seeing for it, and it's just a shame on me.

    I have to agree about the romance. The distance between them will probably (and hopefully) lead to something better, but at least it gives the poor man proper time to grieve. The one thing that I hate about all the vampire romances I read is when the vamp loses his lover, who he swore to love for all eternity, he suddenly finds someone else to love before the body is even cold. LOL

    UF isn't my preferred genre, but after this review, I could hardly turn my back on it. As if the way you described the writing wasn't enough, I like that Amelia doesn't seem like your typical UF heroine.

  14. Nothing wrong with an unusual heroine, makes the story stand out more.
    Thanks for review,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog


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