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The Abandoned by Amanda Stevens
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4.5 Stars

Amanda Stevens manages to zero in to fear with pinpoint accuracy, and exploit it down to the bone with a chilling single-mindedness. In her debut prequel to her stunning Graveyard Queen series, Stevens casts her web to set the stage for a full complement of characters that will end up dangling from her threads.


The Abandoned and its mysteries centers on a largely decrepit cemetery adjacent to Emerson University in Charleston. For numerous years, Oak Grove Cemetery has remained abandoned and forgotten-with good reason. To some, the old cemetery has been rumored as a place for trysts, and for others it has been a fixture for more evil pursuits. Charleston residents now steer clear of it. But none can deny the overwhelming malevolent atmosphere waiting to be unearthed.


For Reanna Hutchins, a student at nearby Emerson and volunteer at Milton H. Farrante Psychiatric Hospital, her life is just beginning. But when one of her patients at the hospital dies, she is plunged into a ghostly mystery that will possess her body and haunt her relentlessly until she is able to piece together the puzzle.


What Rhee doesn’t know is that the ghosts at Oak Grove hunger for justice, and will not stay buried, and will not rest until their voices are heard. When the trail points the hospital, Rhee becomes entwined in a decades old murder, a sexy law grad who has a penchant for parapsychology, and an immense cover up that some would kill to keep from surfacing.


After having the opportunity to dive into The Restorer prior to reading The Abandoned, it’s apparent that Stevens has an innate knack of focusing on settings and behaviors in her characters that instantly evoke a sense of unease-a deeply chilling unease. This is ideal for the type of ghost story Stevens is trying to tell- romantic suspense with high tension and strong paranormal elements. I couldn’t help but flash back to watching Shutter Island and Session 9, both possessed the same off balance feeling that I get from Stevens’ gripping series.


Rhee Hutchins and Hayden Priest are a fantastic team and the uncertain attraction between them works in Stevens’ favor-as does the spectral hitchhiker that has taken an almost obsessive interest in them. It almost cultivates a see-saw of trust/distrust between her leads that keeps the reader guessing and the tension high. Does Rhee trust Hayden even though she knows he belongs to the Order of Coffin and Claw? Can she stop herself from falling for him when he could be involved in the cover up of the murders?


The Abandoned might be a novella, but represents the same quality, the same chilling forthright writing style that had me sucked in for The Restorer.


Highly recommended!
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)
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