📚 The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

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Graveyard Queen #2

Goodreads⎮Reviewed Nov. 2017

Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
Publisher: Harlequin Books S.A.⎮2012

Synopsis: 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.

3.75 ★ Audiobook⎮ A little bit of my October listening list carried over into November. The Kingdom was the second installment in the Graveyard Queen series that I started in early October. But if I didn’t already know that The Kingdom and The Restorer were in the same series, I would have never guessed it. The deeper I got into the story, the further it seemed to drift from the world and characters Stevens created in The Restorer

Things started off really great. Amelia was off to a new town to restore another cemetery. I was interested to see what secrets this cemetery would hold and how Amelia would become dragged into trouble because of it. I ended up getting more than I bargained for. Amelia’s job as a cemetery restorer wound up having little to do with the story. In this installment, it seemed like Amanda Stevens abandoned her originally presented idea for the series, in favor of taking it, Amelia, and the reader down a completely new and dark path. In doing so, she also seemed to have bitten off more than she could chew, so to speak.

The Kingdom’s main issue, in my opinion, was an overly abundant storyline. I barely had enough time to process one shocking soap opera-style reveal before another was thrown at me (and another, and another…). The thing was, I had already figured out a couple of the big twists early on. So it wasn’t the twists themselves that were too much to comprehend, but the amount of twists. It made the story seem messy. Stevens pulled out all the stops, with little development in between, and it was just too much. Quantity does not equal quality. As a result, this audiobook seemed almost double its length.

I will say that The Kingdom was way creepier than I expected. I was pleased with the richly atmospheric elements of the story. I had to stop listening several times because the story became so intense. At one point, I was absolutely livid. These villains were pushing all the wrong (or right?) buttons. It’s been a while since a story has managed to evoke such a visceral response from me. By the end, I was 50% weirded out and 50% freaked out. In other words, it was perfect for Halloween night.

I’m undecided about when, or even if, I’ll be listening to the third installment. I am curious to know if Stevens will return to the way things were in the first book or continue down the very different path she started in The Kingdom. I hope it’s the former. I’m ready for both Amelia and me to leave Asher Falls behind.

Narration review: I adore Khristine Hvam as a narrator, but this wasn’t my favorite performance from her. The longer the audiobook went on, the more her southern accent began to annoy the heck out of me. Other than that, I have zero complaints about her performance. She always provides brilliant character distinction; heads and tails above the rest. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.com and Audible/Amazon

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