Sunday, July 3, 2011
Reviews: Phantom Evil by Heather Graham & The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
I am reviewing these books together because they basically are the same book, with variations. They both are set in the South, about women who can see ghosts, an ability which will ultimately help them each solve a crime. Both are the first in a series of books (The Restorer is the first of The Graveyard Queen series, and Phantom Evil is the first in the Krewe of Hunters series). Both are billed as "romance" novels, but the romance takes a backseat to the rest of the story. They do have their own unique pros and cons though...
I read The Restorer first, and maybe that is one of the reasons why I liked it so much better. The heroine, Amelia Gray, is a 2nd generation graveyard restorer, who also happens to be able to see ghosts. There are rules about this "gift," which she's always held fast to, until she meets Devlin. Because he is haunted by some of those ghosts (but is unaware), Amelia knows she is supposed to stay far away from him. But, he needs her help, both professionally and personally. Together, they must solve a murder after a new body is found in the old graveyard Amelia is restoring.
I literally could not sleep while reading this book; both because I didn't want to put it down, and then did not want to turn out the light when I did. The story is fresh and compelling. The chemistry between the main characters is exciting. However, I did feel disappointed that so much was left unanswered at the end. I get it is part of a series, but the sheer number of loose ends in this book is more than a little annoying. Still, I cannot wait to read book #2.
I wish I had the same enthusiasm about Heather Graham's Phantom Evil. It was good, it just wasn't great. Unlike The Restorer, it is very obvious from the start that this book is part of a series. Way too many characters are introduced quickly in the book, and their supposed instant chemistry is a bit forced -- as is the romance between the main characters. It's almost as if they get together because they have nothing better to be doing. The plot had potential, and for the most part was interesting, but became confusing at times. I did find most of the characters likable, I just felt like they all lacked depth, even the supposed main characters of the novel. I did appreciate that although this is to be part of a series, there were very few loose ends left dangling.
In the end, I'll probably end up reading all the books in both series, but I'm definitely anticipating the end of Amelia Gray's story in the Graveyard Queen series more.
Note: I received free copies of both The Restorer and Phantom Evil from their publishers at the BEA.
The Restorer: book: 4.5/5 cover: 5/5
Phantom Evil: book: 3/5 cover: 4/5