HomeReviewReview: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When I first picked up the Graveyard Queen series, it was on impulse—there was a galley being offered and I got curious and requested one.  I was very pleasantly surprised with the plot and setting and have been eagerly waiting for the story to continue.  I haven’t been disappointed, as Amanda Stevens has provided thrills and shocks galore in The Prophet, the third in the series.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“My name is Amelia Gray.

I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I’ve broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I’ve vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston-where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish–and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.

Now I’m faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.”

In the previous novel, the author answered many of the questions surrounding Amelia and her past.  In The Prophet, she returns to John Devlin and his ghosts.  There is more to the story of how Devlin’s wife and daughter came to haunt him than has previously been shown.  Astute readers will notice that the seeds of these revelations were sown back in The Restorer.  It shows a skilled grasp of plotting on the author’s part, as this novel could easily have come off as something whipped up on the spur of the moment, but doesn’t.

Once again, Stevens has captured the atmosphere of the South.  I especially like how she describes the scents—the flowers at night, the cooking smells from restaurants, and the heavy vegetation scents of a cemetery.  For me, it makes the setting all the more realistic.  While not everyone has visited the South, all of have known similar scents, and readers get a more vivid sense of what it is like by this comparison.

The supernatural side of the story expands with the introduction of African black magic as a foil to Amelia’s unwanted power to see spirits.  I liked knowing that Amelia’s abilities are just one facet of a broader portrait of magic in the local culture.  Although spirit communication is all well and good, it doesn’t provide Amelia with much to combat against except the spirits themselves and their human puppets.  Adding another magical practitioner takes the conflict to a new level.

Admittedly, I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the novel more than the romance aspect, but that’s because Stevens’s prose occasionally gets a little purple.  While I have no objection to paranormal romance—evidenced by how much of it I read generally—the choice of how to write such scenes can be a bit tricky.  There were a couple of eye rolls on my part, but it doesn’t ruin the novel.  Just be aware of what you’re reading and be prepared for some florid language.

Stevens has said on her website that she’d like to write more of the Graveyard Queen series, and I do hope that she does.  Solid plotting, an intricate mystery, and complex characters drive The Prophet to a high level of entertainment.  Even if this doesn’t seem like the kind of novel you’d normally read, stay open-minded and give it a try.

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