Thoughts on Books (#21): LITTLE THREATS • MAGIC DARK AND STRANGE • THE AWAKENING


Little Threats
Little Threats by Emily Schultz *
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In 1993, teenage twin sisters Carter and Kennedy Wynn rebel against their suburban upbringing with grunge, drugs, and dangerous guys. The night after a bad acid trip, their best friend Haley is murdered and Kennedy takes the blame, and she spends 15 years in prison wondering what really happened. In 2008, Kennedy is finally free to start her life, but soon true-crime tv show host Dee Nash comes to town intent on stirring up the past.

While it is part mystery, LITTLE THREATS is mostly a slow-burn family drama about the repercussions of a young girl’s murder. The characters were difficult to like, though I thought their dilemmas were compelling. Kennedy’s conviction at 16 was a stretch. Motive is important, and to me there wasn’t one. She ends up accepting the charges against her though maintaining her innocence because she blacked out and couldn’t remember what actually happened. What lazy police work. The victim’s younger brother and Dee Nash investigate further and open a nasty can of worms. I wasn’t surprised by how things turned out, though I found it intriguing, and rather depressing.

The best part of the book was the early 90s nostalgia — grunge music, doc martens with floral peasant dresses, Kurt Cobain — this story brings it all back. Fun to revisit, though so glad I didn’t go through it with this disturbing crew.

* I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Magic Dark and Strange
Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

MAGIC DARK AND STRANGE is a YA historical fantasy set in the Victorian-like city of Invercarn. The main character is 17-year old Catherine Daly who works at a print shop by day, and by night she raises the dead for grieving families who just want a few more moments with their departed loved ones — for a price. She and Guy Nolan, a watchmaker’s son, end up entangled in a mystery involving a charmed timepiece said to be buried in an unmarked grave. Catherine’s boss wants her to retrieve this item at any cost, but she and Guy get more than they bargained for when the coffin is opened.

There was much to enjoy in this Gothic mystery — dark atmosphere, creepy cemeteries, slow-burn romance, clever characters, and a Victorian setting. I was disappointed, though, with the lack of world-building. All of this amazing magic, and no explanation of where it comes from and how it works. Why is Catherine magical? Has she always been that way? It almost felt like this was book two of a series. Some backstory was missing. MAGIC DARK AND STRANGE had a lot of potential, but it needed to be fleshed out more.


The Awakening (Graveyard Queen #6)
The Awakening by Amanda Stevens *
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading THE AWAKENING was bittersweet, as it’s the conclusion to one of my favorite series. I didn’t want it to end! Known as the Graveyard Queen, protagonist Amelia Gray has made a successful career restoring dilapidated and often forgotten cemeteries. She’s also gifted with being able to see and communicate with ghosts. Her latest job restoring Woodbine Cemetery brings her face to face with the malevolent spirit of a young girl. She seems to be fixated on an unnamed baby’s grave, and it’s up to Amelia to figure out the connection between them and what will finally allow the child to rest in peace.

A lot more juicy secrets are revealed in this book, and Amelia’s turbulent on-again, off-again relationship with John Devlin comes to a head. Though I was sad to see the story end, I was pleased with the way the author wrapped things up. Emotional! I highly recommend the Graveyard Queen series to fans of Gothic suspense and creepy ghost stories, just start at the beginning with The Restorer (#1) or The Abandoned (#0.5).

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

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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