Review: The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

Filed in 5 Stars , Amanda Stevens , featured , Review , The Needy Lover Posted on April 6, 2012 @ 7:00 am 13 comments

Format read: e-book
Series: Graveyard Queen, #2
Genre: urban fantasy
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Number of pages: 376 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Formats available: e-book, paperback
Purchasing Info: GoodreadsAuthor’s WebsiteAmazonKoboBook Depository

Book Blurb:

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.

My Thoughts:

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!

Bottom Line: 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.

I give  The Kingdom 5 stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Alisha

Alisha, the bespectacled and ever nerdy California girl, simply won't leave home without a book in hand. She loves language learnin' and is working toward becoming a bonafide grammar ninja. On any given day you'll find her haunting local libraries or baking scores of cupcakes and sweet treats.

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Join the Discussion
  • Sarah (The Brazen Bookworm) April 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

    All your adjectives are totally apt – can I borrow ‘creeptastic’? Awesome word. I think the phrase ‘quiet horror’ sums it up beautifully as well. Though I actually liked this one (slightly) better than The Restorer, I agree that there were a few odd occurrences that I wish had more resolution. What was up with creepy spider man? That still bothers me, in a totally creeptastic way. 😉

    • Alisha April 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Heheh. “Creepy” just didn’t seem to be enough of an apt description. It’s Freakin’ Creepy! LoL

      Yeah, I’m hoping that some of those oddities (like the slithery spider dude and that weird darkness that keeps following Amelia) are revisited in future books. I can already tell that Stevens will be bringing Amelia back to Asher Falls. There’s so much left to resolve there.

  • Mel S April 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I have to confess I felt like I was over using the word atmospheric when I wrote my review for The Kingdom! You’re right it’s such a creepy and eerie story and I loved the complexity of the plot. Everyone should read this series! 🙂

    • Alisha April 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Yeah, it’s just the perfect word to describe the books! “beautifully haunting”, as you mentioned in your review, is another great way to describe it.

  • LSUReader April 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I just finished this book yesterday. Wow. After that, I immediately preordered next month’s release, The Prophet. Everyone should read this series (and stay away from Asher Falls, SC!)

    • Alisha April 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      “Wow” is right. ^_^ Ms. Stevens will be visiting BLI later this month, so lemme know if you have any burning questions for her.

  • Susan April 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Wow. I have The Restorer and The Kingdom in my Kindle queue, but ya’ll are making me want to move them up to the top of the list! Maybe this weekend. . .

    • Alisha April 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Do it. ^_^ Of course, if there are some rainy Springtime days, those might be even better for reading these books.

  • aurian April 7, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Great review, but I still think this series is just too scary for my tastes.

  • melliane April 7, 2012 at 5:21 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one, I really think I’m in love with the series lol. I just can’t wait to read the fourth because the third one was really amazing. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Great review.

    • Alisha April 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      Oooh, that’s great to hear! So glad you liked the third…gonna start that in a few days, so it makes me even more excited to hear such positivity about it.

      SO glad that there will be more than three books, too. Not ready to let go of Amelia and her lot.

  • Stella April 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I read with one eye closed, but wanted to let you know that it was you Alisha with your enthusiastic reviews who made me add this series to my TBR list (otherwise I very well might have overlooked it *gasp*), so thank you and can’t wait to discover it! 😀

    • Alisha April 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Yayyyy!!!!! That makes me happy! ^_^ I hope you like it, I really do. Just be careful about reading it in dark rooms at night. Hehe..

      I still have to thank you for puttin’ me on to the Secret McQueen books. Soooo excited about reading book 2 (.5 and 1 were awesome). And I just saw the cover for book 4….gonna be goooood…

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