THE SINNER by Amanda Stevens

The Sinner (Graveyard Queen, #5)
THE SINNER by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Really good! THE SINNER was creeptastic from the very beginning. This one takes place about a year after the previous book. Amelia has taken a job restoring Seven Gates Cemetery in Ascension, South Carolina. While taking a stroll through the surrounding woods, Amelia makes a shocking, gruesome discovery. Gave me chills. The mystery surrounding her discovery puts her paranormal abilities to the test. Suspenseful, very spooky, and ends with an intriguing tease of what’s to come.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

THE VISITOR by Amanda Stevens

The Visitor (Graveyard Queen, #4)
THE VISITOR by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With this book, I’m happy to say that the Graveyard Queen series is back on track with me. The previous book was ho-hum, but THE VISITOR captures the intrigue and creepy goodness of the first two books in the series. Yay!

This time around, Amelia is hired to restore the puzzling Kroll Cemetery. Hidden away on private property for decades, the dilapidated old graveyard is full of headstones with strange inscriptions. What do they mean, and how do they relate to the tragic history of those buried there?

Amelia is honing her special gifts in this book and learning more about her family history, thanks to a new ghostly presence who’s haunting her. Alas, Devlin (Amelia’s love interest) continued to annoy me, but he didn’t have as big of a presence in this book. Clearly, he has issues that run deep. What is he hiding?

THE VISITOR is an enjoyable Southern Gothic/spooky mystery. Looking forward to the next book!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

THE PROPHET by Amanda Stevens

The Prophet (Graveyard Queen, #3)
THE PROPHET by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

THE PROPHET is the third installment in the spooky Graveyard Queen series. This time around, Amelia is back in Charleston and haunted by the ghost of a murdered police officer. He needs answers, and Amelia won’t find any peace until he gets his way. The mystery was good, though the pacing dragged a bit in places.

The second book in this series, THE KINGDOM, was my absolute favorite, and THE PROPHET had a hard time measuring up. I’m kinda done with Amelia pining over John Devlin. He needs to go, so she can get back to restoring cemeteries (the coolest job!) and developing her unique abilities. She needs her confidence back! While I did enjoy the surprising twists revealed at the end, overall I thought this one was just okay.

♦ Check out my thoughts on Book #0.5 >> THE ABANDONED

♣ Check out my thoughts on Book #1 >> THE RESTORER

♠ Check out my thoughts on Book #2 >> THE KINGDOM

Book Review: THE DEVIL’S FOOTPRINTS by Amanda Stevens

DevilsFootprints
Publisher: Mira
Released: March 1, 2008
Source: Borrowed from the Library

The footprints were etched in the snow for miles, passing through walls and crossing rivers…appearing on the other side as though no barrier could stop them.In 1922 a farmer in Adamant, Arkansas, awakes to a noise on his roof and finds his snow-blanketed yard marked with thousands of cloven footprints. The prints vanish with the melting snow…only to reappear seventy years later near the gruesome killing of Rachel DeLaune.

Years after her sister’s unsolved murder, New Orleans tattoo artist Sarah DeLaune is haunted by the mysteries of her past. Sarah has always believed that her sister was killed by a man named Ashe Cain. But no one else had ever seen Ashe. He had “appeared” to Sarah when she needed a friend the most, only to vanish on the night of her sister’s murder. The past bleeds into the present when two mutilated bodies are found near Sarah’s home, the crime scene desecrated by cloven footprints.

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THE DEVIL’S FOOTPRINTS is another creeptastic novel of suspense from Amanda Stevens, though there were a few things about it that niggled at me. I thought the mystery was very well done, and it wasn’t until I was close to the end that I could say for sure, “Ohhh! It was…”

I’m a big fan of Ms. Stevens’ tormented characters with their dark secrets, and Sarah DeLaune – yeah, she was tormented. She had a loveless childhood, then her old sister Rachel was brutally murdered, and the killer was never caught. Satanic symbols and cloven footprints were found at the scene of the crime, just like the prints a local farmer had seen back in the 1920s. Fast-forward 14 years after Rachel’s death, and more women are found dead similar to how Rachel was murdered. Is the killer Ashe Caine, a reclusive goth kid who Sarah suspects murdered Rachel? Or maybe it was the Devil himself?

I really enjoyed the puzzling mystery and eerie, dark atmosphere of the book. What bugged me was that there were things in the story that were introduced or hinted at, but they were never fleshed out. It also drove me nuts that Sarah was tortured for years with not knowing her family’s dark secrets, and the DeLaune’s housekeeper knew the answers but refused to share. Why, why, why? *sigh*

Even with my complaints, overall I still enjoyed THE DEVIL’S FOOTPRINTS. I love Amanda Steven’s descriptive writing style and how her creepy tales can make me afraid to turn out the lights. Definitely worth a read!

Rating: 3.75 Stars

Book Review: THE DOLLMAKER by Amanda Stevens

dollmaker
Publisher: Mira
Released: March 1, 2007
Source: Borrowed from the Library

And now a new clue has surfaced…a doll that is the spitting image of Claire Doucett’s missing child, right down to the tiny birthmark on the girl’s left arm. A chance sighting of the eerily lifelike doll in a French Quarter collectibles shop leaves Claire shaken to her core…and more determined than ever to find out what happened to her beloved Ruby.

When the doll is snatched and the store’s owner turns up dead, Claire knows the only person she can turn to is ex-husband Dave Creasy, a former cop who has spent the past seven years imprisoned by his own guilt and despair. He let Claire down once when she needed him the most. Can she make him believe the doll really exists? She’ll have to if they’re to survive an encounter with a brutal psychopath— the dollmaker—who stole their future to feed an obsession that will never die.

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This will be a quickie review, because this week has been hectic! I’ve been getting ready for a garage sale this Friday & Saturday. I have four big boxes of children’s books to sell, ones my kids have outgrown and I don’t want to keep for posterity. I’m sure they’ll want the $$$ to buy new books. 🙂

Does anyone remember the book How Spider Saved Halloween from the 70s? That’s probably my favorite book from early childhood, and a definite keeper.

Anyway, THE DOLLMAKER. Yep, it was as creepy as the cover. This book came out a few years before The Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens, and I loved it. She knows how to create troubled and tragic characters who draw readers into their stories, and Dave and Claire – ugh, their story was heart-wrenching! Their daughter disappeared without a trace seven years earlier, their marriage fell apart, and Dave turned to alcohol. Then suddenly, Claire comes across a mysterious doll in a shop window that looks just like their missing daughter, down to the birthmark on her arm. Coincidence?

THE DOLLMAKER was an exciting and emotional novel of suspense, set in one of my favorite locations, New Orleans. It was interesting how the author talked about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath on the city. There were many layers to this story, not only the doll, but also the reemergence of a cold case Dave had first investigated at the time of his daughter’s disappearance. There was also a diverse cast of notable secondary characters, some good, some bad, but which was which?

Final Thoughts: If you enjoy page-turning, creepy suspense with just the barest hint of romance, I’d highly recommend THE DOLLMAKER.

Rating: 4½ Stars